If you are a family member, foster parent, friend or recruited adoptive resource, having an adoption attorney can greatly assist in easing the stress of going through the adoption process. In many cases, foster parents and other adoptive placements are usually shuffled through the adoption process with very little input and usually no legal representation. Having an attorney assist in the adoption process can be of great help. We have prepared this article to highlight the ways an adoption attorney can help if you are considering adopting children through the dependency system or in a private adoption.
1. Understanding the process. An experienced adoption attorney should be able to assist you in understanding the Court process. Having legal representation should make the process of adoption flow smoothly with as few Court appearances as possible.
2. Understanding the paperwork. An adoption attorney can also assist prospective adoptive parents in understanding the myriad of paperwork that comes with an adoption. A top notch adoption attorney should be able to explain each document and why each document is necessary.
3. Negotiating Open Adoption Agreements. If you are considering an adoption where birth parents might still have contact or knowledge about the child, an adoption attorney can negotiate the language of an open adoption agreement for you. An experienced open adoption attorney will be able to assist in preparing a solid open adoption agreement that leaves little room for future litigation.
4. Communication with Birth Parents. In some adoption cases, the adoptive parents do not want to have communication with the birth parents. Hiring an attorney can facilitate this communication. Moreover, having an attorney communicate with birth parents should allow for proper documentation of adoption terms and negotiations.
5. Obtaining Information About the Children. If you are considering an adoption through the Department of Family Services, it is very important to have a complete understanding of the child’s medical and psychiatric history prior to adoption. DFS is not always forthcoming in the information they provide to prospective adoptive parents. An adoption attorney can assist in obtaining the child’s medical and psychiatric records to help you avoid adoption disruption or adoption dissolution in the future.
6. Obtaining Information About the Birth Parent. It is not surprising that agency and DFS adoptions provide little information about birth parents to prospective adoptive parents. This can be particularly concerning if the child was substance exposed or severely abused or neglected by the birth parents. Because of privacy laws, DFS and private adoption agencies are usually unwilling or unable to provide this information to prospective adoptive parents. Hiring an adoption attorney can assist an adoptive parent in obtaining the necessary background and information about birth parents to help adoptive parents make an informed decision about adoption.
7. Representation at Court Hearings. If you are adopting through a DFS proceeding, chances are the birth parents’ rights have not yet been terminated. As a placement and prospective adoptive parent, you should be represented at all court hearings and team meetings concerning the children. You should know exactly where the child’s case stands and the issues DFS is facing in completing the termination and adoption. Unfortunately, most potential adoptive parents come to hearings unrepresented by an adoption attorney and never get a chance to speak to the judge. Having a lawyer can help you and a good adoption attorney will insist that you have a say-so in Court proceedings.
While some adoptive parents may decide to represent themselves in the adoption process, it is usually best to have an adoption attorney on your side. An adoption attorney cannot guarantee a particular result, but they should be able to make the process easier to understand and create less stress for all parties involved. If you or someone you know if in need of an adoption attorney, call our office at (702) 433-2889 or fill out our on-line form. We can help.