In almost all circumstances, it is helpful to go through the adoption process with the assistance of an attorney. Creating a family is one of the most significant events in the lives of most people seeking to adopt. You will want to be certain that the adoption you pursue complies with state and federal laws, and that nothing will disturb the relationship that you have built. If you are considering adoption, one of the first steps is to contact a knowledgeable adoption attorney.
Similarly, if you are a biological parent, and you are seeking to place your child for adoption, you will also want the assistance of counsel to help you understand your rights. Typically, the adoptive parents will pay for the costs of the birth parents’ attorney because it is important that the birth parents’ rights and wishes are protected.
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The examples above presume that the adoption process has received the consent of all parties. This is not always the case, however. Sometimes a court will terminate the parental rights of birth parents without their consent. In these situations, an attorney is especially important. Some states will provide an attorney free of charge to birth parents who are involved in parental right termination hearings. In other states, parents who are at risk of losing their parental rights need to pay for their own counsel.
The involuntary termination of parental rights can only happen in certain circumstances. Parental rights can be terminated if the parents have been found to have abused or neglected the children and are unable or unwilling to provide a safe home for the children. Parental rights can also be terminated if a parent has abandoned the child or if they will be incarcerated for a long period of time. A skilled attorney can help you defend your parental rights if you are at risk of an involuntary termination.
The Role of a Lawyer in an Adoption
While potential adoptive parents may see an adoption as a primarily emotional process that formalizes a parental bond, it is also a legal process. Since the parent/child relationship is so important, courts want to be certain that the legal procedures are followed precisely. That is why attorneys are almost always involved in the adoption process. However, the specific involvement of the adoption lawyer will depend on the type of adoption and other factors.
Prospective adoptive parents will most likely also pay the attorney’s fees for a birth parent. However, this lawyer represents the best interests of the birth parent, rather than the prospective adoptive parents.
If you are working with an adoption agency, they will likely coordinate the attorney services for you. However, if you are doing an independent adoption, you will probably be responsible for finding and hiring your own attorney. In an independent adoption, the adoption lawyer will also likely play a much larger role. In an independent adoption, the attorney will be responsible for making sure that all of the legal requirements of your state are met. This includes making sure that necessary home studies, background checks, and other screening procedures are completed properly. It also may include helping potential adoptive parents gather the documents that they need.
If you are in a state that permits facilitated adoptions, often the facilitator will be an attorney. Some adoption attorneys will keep files of potential adoptive parents. When a birth parent reaches out to them, they will help them find an adoptive home for the child. As with independent adoptions, the adoption lawyer will probably be the main professional working with you.
For birth parents who are voluntarily terminating their parental rights, the role of the lawyer is to safeguard the rights of the birth parents. The adoption attorney can help explain certain decisions that need to be made and act as an advocate to make sure that your wishes are carried out. They can also assist you if you change your mind and decide to parent the child.
In involuntary terminations, the birth parents’ lawyer has one of the most important roles in the process. They are responsible for vigorously defending the rights of the biological parents and fighting the termination if that is what the birth parents want.