Definition- Adoption law firms are a group of two or more attorneys who practice law. In adoption, some law firms have an attorney who specializes in adoption law. This specialty can range from stepparent to independent adoptions. Most attorneys handle the legal process but do not locate birth parents for their clients. In some cases, however, attorneys can provide their clients advertising mediums to place ads to locate birth mothers.
Advantages of Adoption Law Firms:
- The main benefit of adoption law firms is the safe and solid legal work they provide, which makes the adoption more secure.
Disadvantages of Adoption Law Firms:
- The advertising mediums available to individual families are much less effective than those available to adoption agencies. (Keep in mind: the largest national agencies buy advertisements at a discount, carefully track marketing success and have major networking contacts, but still spend an average of $8,000 to $10,000 in advertising for each successful adoption. You should expect to pay more in advertising through a law firm, especially if the ad is placed on your own.)
- Placing ads individually puts more money at risk if a birth mother is not located.
- Families should expect their advertisements to be far less effective, and many prospective adoptive families complain their ads did not yield any inquiries.
- Adoption law firms often bill hourly, meaning their fees are at risk if the adoption doesn’t work out.
- Like facilitators, most adoption law firms’ cost estimates are best-case scenario and rarely reflect that clients may experience several disruptions and lose thousands of dollars before an adoption succeeds. Those losses will be added to the fees for a successful adoption later.
- Families get frustrated with adoption law firms because they lack a social service department skilled in evaluating, educating and guiding birth mothers through the adoption process. As a result, families are often matched with birth mothers who aren’t strongly committed to adoption, aren’t emotionally prepared or don’t understand the process.
- Families often must answer initial birth mother calls from their advertisements, which can be a strain on a family’s time.
- In the early stages, most birth parents are intimidated to talk to an attorney.
- Adoption law firms are normally not available in the evenings or on the weekends.
- Adoption law firms may lack a sense of urgency in responding to your calls or questions, as they are often juggling other cases.
- Local adoption law firms are susceptible to changes in state’s laws, which can put them out of business. Florida, for example, changed their laws in 2001, and adoptions plummeted 50 percent the following year. Many local agencies and adoption law firms were forced go out of business. National organizations simply focused their services in the other 49 states.
- Local adoption law firms are also susceptible to negative statewide adoption stories, like 2007’s foster home abuse case in Missouri. The negative newspaper articles made many pregnant women in Missouri choose to parent, which hurt local Missouri adoption law firms.
Types of clients who choose adoption law firms:
- All adoptive families use adoption attorneys for legal support during the adoption process, but some adoptive families prefer that their primary adoption professional provide more services than an adoption law firm.
- Families who don’t understand the adoption process.
- Families who have friends who are attorneys.
- Families who want control of the adoption process and have low trust in an adoption agency’s evaluation process.
- Families who mistakenly believe that an adoption law firm is the cost-effective way to adopt and don’t account for fees outside the best-case scenario.
- Families who are ok with spending evenings and weekends answering their phone to counsel birth parents themselves.
How do you find a good adoption law firm?
Without an independent government body reviewing their files, there is no organization ensuring an adoption law firm is truthful. Because there is no oversight, your questions should be more probing, and you may wish to ask for the answers in writing.
Read Questions to Ask an Adoption Professional to learn what to ask an adoption law firm, adoption attorney or other adoption professional.