Legal Considerations When Adopting or Putting Up for Adoption
Adoption processes and qualifications are determined by state laws, which can be confusing. Unless you’re an expert on Oklahoma adoption laws, you may be wondering, “Do I need a lawyer for adoption?”
The short answer is yes; all adoptions require an adoption attorney to help finalize the legal process. However, when working with a trusted adoption agency like Deaconess Pregnancy & Adoption (DPA), both adoptive parents and birth parents will have legal counsel provided to help coordinate the process.
Part of DPA’s mission is to help navigate all aspects of the process from the initial match to the final court process with adoption attorneys. Here’s what you should know about the legal considerations of pursuing adoption as either a birth parent or an adoptive parent.
What Does an Adoption Attorney Do?
Adoption attorneys are legal practitioners in family law. They have expertise in adoption or adoption law. Most adoption attorneys specialize in the legal process of finalizing an adoption. An attorney’s role begins after a match has been made with a local adoption agency like DPA.
Do I Need an Attorney to Place My Baby for Adoption?
Yes, at some stages in the process, a birth mother will need to work with an attorney to place a baby for adoption. When working with DPA, an attorney is provided, so the birth mother does not have to hire the attorney herself. Birth mothers have the right to choose a different legal counsel and DPA will cover those costs up to the amount agreed upon with the DPA provided attorney. There are absolutely no legal costs (or any costs for that matter) for the birth mother.
In many U.S. adoptions, only adoptive parents have legal representation. Unfortunately, most birth mothers go underrepresented. It is important to DPA that both adoptive parents and birth mothers have trusted legal representation.
There are two legal steps to adoption.
1. Termination of the parental rights of the child’s birth parents
2. Finalization of adoption in the court
The second step makes the child’s adoptive parents their permanent, legal parents in the eyes of the Oklahoma state government.
Birth parents will work with the designated adoption attorney to terminate parental rights safely and legally. Attorneys are reviewed by the state each year to ensure they comply with Oklahoma state adoption laws. DPA has also vetted each of the attorneys we select to offer birth parents confidence in the process.
If you are considering adoption, DPA can assist with every step of the adoption process from choosing the best adoptive parents to finalizing the adoption in court and everything in between. To learn more about the support offered to birth parents, check out these resources for birth mothers considering adoption.
Do I Need an Adoption Attorney as an Adoptive Parent?
At the core of every adoption is a good intention — ensuring that a child is placed in a good home. Both the birth parents and the adoptive parents want the baby to be placed in a long-term home where he or she is taken care of. However, it’s still a legal matter that must be handled correctly. A birth mother is agreeing to terminate her parental rights (care, custody, and control of her child). If this isn’t performed properly, things can get messy.
To ensure the process goes smoothly, DPA will provide an attorney to adoptive parents that is included as a flat fee in the total cost for adoption. The agency and birth mom will also have an attorney. It is best practice for both parties to have their own separate representation. This protects the interests of everyone involved.
How to Choose an Adoption Lawyer
Working with an adoption attorney is a critical part of this process. Here are a few questions you (as a birth parent or adoptive parent) should ask to ensure you have qualified legal representation.
· Can you explain the adoption legal process?
· Are you a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys?
· When will you be available in person or by phone?
· How much control do I have over the adoption?
· What is your stance on open adoption?
· What is your role in this process? How does it differ from the role of the adoption agency?
Adoption attorneys play a significant role in the adoption process and help to ensure that adoptions are handled properly in the state of Oklahoma. Because attorneys take on numerous cases, they often lack the time for individualized support that adoption agencies can provide. Having a trusted local adoption agency like DPA can make the entire process smoother and less intimidating.
Reach out to Deaconess Pregnancy & Adoption to learn more about how we can support you through this process from start to finish.
If you’re pregnant and considering adoption, please know you do not have to make this journey alone. We are here for you and want to support you. We can text, talk on the phone, or meet in person either at our office or at a location that is convenient for you anywhere in the state of Oklahoma. Contact us today by calling (405) 397-3140 or email us whenever you’re ready. In the meantime, check out these FAQs.