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Adoption Lawyers Near You

Brook M. Thibault avatar
Brook M. Thibault is a Virginia Beach trial lawyer, former Associate Counsel for CMA CGM (America) LLC the world's third largest container ship company, and Pub...
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Brook M. Thibault is a Virginia Beach trial lawyer, former Associate Counsel for CMA CGM (America) LLC the world's third largest container ship company, and Pub...
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Miguel Nieves avatar
Attorney Miguel Nieves has more than 20 years of family law experience. Miguel focuses his practice exclusively on family law, and he provides invaluable counse...
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Attorney Miguel Nieves has more than 20 years of family law experience. Miguel focuses his practice exclusively on family law, and he provides invaluable counse...
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Adoption is the process by which an adult becomes the legal parent of another person. Most of the time, an adoptive parent or parents adopt a child who is not their biological child. Formal parental relationships with adopted children extend to all areas of life, including custody and inheritance rights.

People tend to think of private adoption when they think of adopting a child, so many people don't realize that there are several types of adoptions. Most surprisingly for some is the fact that children are not the only adoptees.

Adoption can take the following forms:

  • Stepparent Adoption—Stepparents sometimes adopt their stepchildren when they are more involved in raising the child and are seeking parental rights equal to those of their spouse;
  • Adult Adoption—This type of adoption involves adopting another adult who has specific care and/or medical requirements;
  • International Adoption—International adoption occurs when a foreign child who is neither a U.S. resident nor a citizen is adopted. Different requirements apply to international adoption compared to domestic adoptions;
  • Equitable Adoption—Non-biological parents and adopted children establish this type of adoption themselves rather than going through a court order. The child may be considered legally adopted if the adult has acted as a parent during the child's life even if no formal adoption process took place;
  • Relative (or Grandparent) Adoption—When parents become incapacitated or face legal issues, grandparents or other relatives often step in to raise a child. Over time, they may wish to formally adopt the child.
  • Identified adoptions—This type of adoption occurs when the parties find and identify each other privately, without help from an agency or other adoption professional.

What Is an Adoption Lawyer?

When you’re looking for the best adoption lawyer near you, you’re going to want to consider a few factors. Adoption attorneys near you need to have an excellent grasp of the laws and processes surrounding adoption. Adoption can be a complex process with many requirements. In order to become a legally recognized adoptive parent, the following steps, among others, must be followed:

  1. Consent—Consent must be obtained from all interested parties, including the adoptee and the biological parents.
  2. Court Petition—The adopting party must file a petition with the court requesting approval to adopt.
  3. Notice—After a petition is filed, the court must notify anyone with an interest in the child. This can include parents, grandparents, legal representatives, adoption agencies, and the adoptee(s).
  4. Adoption Hearing—A judge will approve the adoption arrangements and issue a final decree of adoption at the adoption hearing.

Depending on the specific details of the adoption process, state laws may vary. There may also be differences in the process for the specific type of adoption, such as international adoptions. Having an adoption lawyer on your side can simplify the process for you, saving you some of the time and hassle of complicated paperwork.

What Does an Adoption Attorney Do?

Attorneys who specialize in family law, including adoption, are adoption attorneys. Adoption law firms have two or more attorneys. Although there are some attorneys who specialize in adoption law, the majority of adoption attorneys handle the legal process only, offering no assistance to their clients in locating potential birth parents, etc. These attorneys are the perfect professionals for stepparent adoptions, relative adoptions, and identified adoptions.

Adoption law firms offer the main benefit of providing safe and solid legal work, which ensures that the adoption is a secure process. Adoption attorneys have this advantage when they handle the legal side of adoption. Adoption attorneys are generally required by the courts, regardless of what other professionals—adoption agencies, etc.—are involved.

In one instance, a family who already has a potential birth mother, such as a pregnant friend or family member, may not need an adoption agency to complete the process, which can be more cost-effective. However, the adoption attorney is needed to complete the legal process.

When to Hire an Adoption Lawyer?

Adoption law lawyers near you understand adoption law. It is a good idea to hire an adoption lawyer who is familiar with both statutes and case law and understands how to apply them. When you know that you will be adopting, consult with an attorney to learn more about your legal rights. The following are examples of what an experienced adoption lawyer can do for you:

  • Your adoption lawyer should know how the judge who is handling your case views the law. It helps when the lawyer knows how the judge schedules cases and wants adoptions handled in their courtroom.
  • In cases of infant adoption, after the baby is born, both the adoptive parents and the birth parents have to face the reality of adoption. An adoption lawyer who has a good relationship with hospital personnel and is familiar with the hospital's social worker, procedures, and policies can make everyone's time together at the hospital go smoothly.
  • State vital records bureaus have their own adoption paperwork requirements. A good adoption lawyer can help you navigate the process.
  • Adoption lawyers should be familiar with the Indian Child Welfare Act and how to comply with it. If the child you're adopting has Native American heritage, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) could apply. If ICWA is not followed, the adoption could be jeopardized.
  • Your adoption lawyer can advise you on your eligibility for the federal adoption tax credit. Depending on your household income, you may be able to deduct qualified adoption expenses.
  • Adoption lawyers can expedite the process. The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) applies to adoptions across states. A good adoption lawyer will know ICPC compliance, which might keep you from getting stuck in a motel room in another state while you wait for the next phase to be completed.
  • A good adoption lawyer will not represent both sides. It is best practice to represent only either the adopting family or the natural parents to avoid a conflict of interest.

How Do I Choose an Adoption Attorney?

Before making a final decision to work with an adoption attorney, you may want to ask the following questions:

  • Where are you licensed?
  • Do you specialize in adoption?
  • How many [fill in your specific type] adoptions did you complete last year?
  • Do you handle time-sensitive cases?
  • Do you provide matching services for infant adoption?
  • What is the average cost of adoption through your office?
  • Do you charge an hourly rate?
  • What if my adoption takes longer than expected?
  • What factors affect wait times and costs?
  • Are your law firm's adoption services in-house or outsourced?

How Much Does an Adoption Lawyer Cost on Average?

When hiring a lawyer to help with your adoption, you will be responsible for the attorney's legal fees, which can sometimes be negotiated between client and attorney. The typical hourly fee for adoption lawyers ranges from $200 to $300. Some attorneys may instead charge a flat fee for uncontested adoptions that involve no special considerations or circumstances.

Do Adoption Attorneys Usually Charge for Consultations?

The answer to this depends on the attorney. A lawyer for adoption near you may offer free consultations to help you determine if they are the right fit for you. The purpose of the initial consultation is not to receive legal advice but, rather, to determine whether you wish to hire that lawyer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost of adopting a child in the United States?

The average cost of adoption in the U.S. for families adopting a baby through a private agency averages around $70,000. Families typically spend between $20,000 and $30,000 on the adoption process, although this may vary based on individual circumstances.

What if the birth father wants his baby?

These situations can often be unavoidable. However, adoption lawyers know what to do when birth fathers object to the adoption. A good adoption lawyer can guide you through this stressful process.

How much should I give the birth mother?

A good adoption attorney will advise you on how much to give the birth mother in a private infant adoption. Your adoption lawyer should be well-versed in both the written and unwritten rules regarding what can be done for birth mothers.