The adoption process can be confusing and stressful. The first step is that initial meeting with the adoption attorney. It can help to be prepared before coming to that meeting. The following questions can help a prospective client adequately prepare for that initial consultation
1. Ask About the Adoption Attorney’s Qualifications
Keep in mind that this consultation is also the client’s opportunity to fully interview the attorney and not just get questions answered regarding the case. Ask about the professional experience the attorney has, not just in the legal arena in general but also in adoption law specifically.
What percentage of the attorney’s practice is dedicated to adoption? Ideally, an adoption attorney’s practice should be anywhere from 50 to 100 percent adoption practice.
2. What Types of Adoptions Do You Handle?
Ask the attorney about what types of adoption cases he or she typically handles. Are they mostly open adoptions, confidential ones, or a combination of both? If he or she prefers open adoptions, what levels of open adoptions does the attorney prefer?
Does the attorney work more with birth mothers, with the prospective adoptive family or both? Are the adoptions traditionally non-relative adoptions or are they more step-parent or relative adoptions? Get an idea on how many contested adoptions the attorney has handled and whether he or she tends to handle adoptions that are non-contested more.
3. What Services Does the Attorney Provide?
Not all adoption attorneys are the same. Some attorneys will help the potential adoptive family line up the adoptive situation and do the work to finalize the adoption. Some law offices will only handle the legal part of the process.
It is important that the client ask what services are provided, especially if he or she desires a certain level of service that may not be offered by the attorney’s office.
4. What is the attorney’s adoption philosophy?
Ask the attorney about his or her general philosophy regarding adoption. The field of adoption law is a highly personalized one. Many attorneys have a good reason or backstory as to why they chose to practice in adoption law.
Do they prefer working with adoptions that are open or confidential, and if they do have a preference, why do they have that feeling? Do they prefer to help one side over the other, and why?
The attorney may not want to answer the question specifically, but they certainly cannot hurt to ask. It can help to see if the attorney’s philosophy lines up with the client’s hopes and expectations. That may make the process that much easier.
5. How does the office function?
It can be helpful to ask about how the office works and what to expect. Many times, lawyers will rely heavily on support staff, paralegals and associates to do the case work and most of the contact.
Ask about how the attorney prefers to communicate with clients, whether it be through email communication or phone. If the attorney who is handling your case is not in the office, is there another knowledgeable attorney who is available?
6. How much will it cost?
Of course, in the back of most client’s minds is the issue regarding the cost of the adoption. Ask the attorney how much the average cost of the adoptions he or she has handles normally is. How does the attorney bill? Do they charge a flat fee for adoptions, or do they charge an hourly rate? If the attorney charges an hourly rate, do they require a retainer be paid in advance?
7. What problems could there be, if any?
It can help to know what roadblocks the client may face or run into down the road. Attorneys tend to be worst-case scenario types of people, so they are certainly experts in foreseeing potential problems.
It is not paranoid to ask these questions. While they may not happen in your specific case, the attorney should be upfront about what issues, if any, may come up in the adoption case. They can be issues from small delays to issues that could completely derail the adoption altogether. It never hurts to ask the question at the very least.
If You Are Thinking Adoption, Contact Stuart & Blackwell Today
At Stuart & Blackwell, we understand just how stressful the adoption process can be. We’re here to help you find the path to adoption that’s right for you. Every adoption is as unique as the adoptive parents themselves, but the journey doesn’t have to be harrowing.
We specialize in Arizona adoption law, and we have the experience, knowledge, and compassion to help you welcome your child into your loving home. Contact us at (480) 420 2900 today for your free consultation.