This guest post is by Samantha Larson.
Adoption is an incredibly exciting time as you and your family welcome a new member. While adoption is a time for celebration, the journey to this glorious event can be difficult as you weigh the pros and cons of each type of adoption.
Whether using an agency, organizing an independent adoption, or proceeding with an international adoption, each type offers something different that may work better for some families, and not for others.
Whichever method you choose to begin or add to your family, it is recommended to retain a qualified adoption attorney to help with the process.
To help find the best adoption lawyer to fit your particular needs, consider asking these 7 questions when meeting with prospective lawyers:
How extensive is your adoption expertise?
Each state has differing laws and regulations for the domestic adoption process. It is vital your potential adoption attorney is well-versed in your area’s laws and is licensed to practice law in the state.
As for overseas adoptions, legal professionals must be approved to provide adoption services.
What is your response rate?
Adoption can be an emotional process so it’s important to find a lawyer who will take the time to listen, respond, and support you both as a person and client.
Be sure to ask if you will be speaking to the attorney directly or if you will be in contact with a legal assistant, and his or her average turnaround rate for responding.
Don’t be shy when asking about availability: if you need a lawyer who is available after hours for a phone call, make it clear.
Are you prepared to handle all scenarios?
As mentioned previously, adoption can be an emotional journey filled with twists, turn, pits, and peaks. Legal expert and Austin adoption attorney Abraham Kant recommends prospective adoptive parents “be confident in your attorney’s experience both with the law and local rules, but also feel you can relate to the attorney on a personal level.
This is a person who will have a short but powerful impact on your life and that of your family’s.” An adoption lawyer will be communicating with your family as well as the birth parents, and likely social workers, home study providers, counselors, medical professionals, and other legal professionals.
It is crucial you feel he or she is kind, supportive, communicative, and efficient, no matter the circumstance.
What is your track record?
Ensuring your potential attorney has experience and is competent is arguably the most important question on this list! How many non-relative adoptions has he or she completed in the past year?
How many years has she or he been involved with adoptions? How much of the practice is dedicated to adoption? Does he or she handle open adoptions and/or confidential adoptions?
Does he or she specialize in LGBTQ adoptions? Keep in mind how your potential adoption lawyer answers these questions as candidness and honesty is incredibly important throughout the adoption process.
Can you help me achieve my goal?
State your goal clearly and ask if your potential lawyer is capable of making it happen! If your goal is not attainable, ask why and what alternative solutions are available.
Ask what hurdles you may encounter and what the necessary steps are in order to achieve your goal, if possible.
Also, inquire if the lawyer has expert referrals he or she recommends or if he or she is capable of providing additional services: beyond the legal portion, some lawyers can assist with finding an adoption opportunity, payment for birth parent’s expenses, and facilitating contact with an open adoption.
What is included in the paperwork?
Before signing the official paperwork, ensure the fee, rate, or representation agreement is in writing and clearly explains for what services you will be paying.
The agreement should also include who is in charge of your case, who will be your point of contact, and the hourly rate for legal staff.
How much do you charge?
For many people, this is probably one of the most important considerations when it comes to finding a lawyer.
And while attorney fees can be a deciding factor, choosing an attorney simply based on his or her rate will likely result in disappointment. As long as the adoption attorney’s rates are competitive with the market you are in, prioritize other factors, such as likeability and track record, before his or her retainer.
Be sure to ask if rates are hourly or if there will be a flat fee. Will you be billed for the attorney’s work alone or also the work completed by the legal and office staff?
Asking these seven questions can make all the difference in your quest to add to or begin a family. Adoption is a journey, and having the right adoption lawyer by your side can make all the difference.
Many family law attorneys offer free consultations, so take advantage and take your time in finding the best fit for your particular situation!
Sam Larson is a passionate legal content writer, dedicated to providing the online community with useful legal information by working with family law firms and attorneys, like Abraham Kant Esq in Austin.
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