In regards to domestic adoption, adopting through an agency is still the most popular choice in the USA today. However, some families prefer to adopt independently through an adoption lawyer. Because of this, in this article we’ll be exploring the adoption process when adopting independently, as well as how to select the perfect lawyer for you.
Legal in all states except Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and North Dakota, independent adoption is where prospective parents adopt with the aid of an adoption lawyer instead of an agency.
Also known as a private adoption, independent adoption differs from traditional adoption as the adoptive parents play an active role in finding a birthmother, often through networking and social media, instead of an agency working as an intermediary for them.
There are also legal differences, with the birth parent(s) giving consent for the adoption to take place directly to the adoptive parents, instead of through the agency. An adoption lawyer is needed to handle the legal documents and negotiations and will also represent prospective parents in hearings and other meetings. Some lawyers may also aid parents in sourcing and screening potential birth mothers.
How Independent Adoption Works
Services seen in agency adoptions are also provided in independent adoption, including medical and social histories, which are able to be obtained by the prospective parents or the lawyer. Typically counselling or therapy is made available for both sides of the adoption process and is strongly recommended for a positive outcome. Just like agency adoptions, independent adoptions require a home study to be successfully completed.
In independent adoptions, the adoptive parents are often present at the hospital for the birth and maybe witness the birth itself. Adoptive parents are also able to care for their new child in hospital which allows for a more immediate bond, helping ensure the adoption's success. It is also common that the infant is discharged directly into the adoptive parents’ care. However, regulations vary from state to state, and no state will ever allow binding consent before the birth of the child, with some states extending this to a period of time after birth.
Hiring and Adoption Lawyer
To undertake independent adoption, prospective parents need an adoption lawyer. The lawyer will manage the complex legal negotiations as well as file relevant paperwork and other responsibilities including:
Explaining all adoption methods available to you without bias
Informing you of your legal rights and the adoption laws specific to your state
Reviewing contracts and documents
Setting up post-placement arrangements
What to Ask Potential Lawyers
There are some key questions you should ask any potential lawyer before hiring:
What is their fee structure and how much do they charge?
What is the lawyer's adoption specialty and how much experience have they have
Do they have references or information on success rates
Ask any questions you have as well as voice your concerns, if the lawyer is able to answer these proficiently and provide adequate but professional reassurance, you’ve likely got a strong contender!