Adoption can be a confusing legal process, but luckily, American Adoptions will connect you with an experienced adoption attorney to answer all of your legal questions throughout the process. Adoption laws vary from state to state, so it’s important that you’re aware of the laws that will affect your individual adoption.
But, as much as you want to know about the legal process of adoption, there is just as much that your adoption attorney wants you to know — and it’s not always answers to legal questions about birth mother expenses, consent and finalization.
We had Texas attorney Eric Freeby offer up some of the important things that he wants all adoptive parents to know, so you can have the most positive and productive adoption process possible. Here’s what he had to say:
1. “A lot of things are out of your control — and that’s okay.”
Attorneys understand how important the adoption process is to those who have been waiting so long to become a family. Therefore, they also understand how frustrating it can be when it seems like there are so many parts of the adoption process that are out of your hands, like your wait time, legal scheduling, birth parent relationships and more. Accepting this lack of control early on will make the adoption process easier on all involved and allow your adoption attorney to focus on what they can do to move the process along.
2. “You are putting yourself in the birth parent(s)’ emotionally-charged situation.”
As much planning and preparation you do as prospective adoptive parents, there is always a risk involved when you’re working with prospective birth parents in such an emotionally-charged process. Many times, potential birth parents are dealing with other unstable aspects in their lives, and adding adoption into the mix can make everything more complicated. When you recognize the instability that many expectant parents are facing, you can better understand why some things in the adoption process go the way they do.
3. “Be patient.”
Adoption is obviously a complicated process with many steps, and it can take time to complete your adoption. Expect a wait time when it comes to finding an adoption opportunity, receiving ICPC clearance, meeting minimum residency requirements for the child before an adoption finalization, etc. Patience can be hard but can also be the most helpful thing for a positive adoption experience.
4. “Read what your attorney and agency send you.”
A lot of the answers to your questions can be answered if you read your email and mail from your adoption professionals. We put a lot of time and thought into what we send you.
5. “Communicate, communicate, communicate.”
Your adoption agency and adoption attorney are there to help you through all possible complications of your adoption journey, but they can’t do that properly without all of the information they need. Make sure your agency and attorney are aware of any life changes, like a change of address or family composition, as soon as possible. Tell your agency or attorney if the birth parents tell you something that you think could even have a chance of being important. Always tell your agency or attorney everything, even your dark or embarrassing secrets. The more they know, the more secure and stable they can try to make your adoption plan. Your attorney doesn’t like surprises.
6. “Even the most secure adoption has some degree of legal risk.”
Unfortunately, no adoption can be completely free of legal risk. Birth parent situations and adoption laws can be complicated, so your attorney can not assure you that a certain adoption opportunity is 100 percent legally safe. Your adoption professionals will do everything they can to reduce this legal risk to be as miniscule as possible.
7. “Complete your home study and supervisory visits in a timely manner.”
Your adoption finalization requires certain steps to be met. If you’re not updating those requirements as needed, you could delay your adoption’s finalization. This is one of the most important steps to making sure an adoption is completed as quickly as possible.
8. “ICPC takes time, and we are moving as fast as we can. We want you to get home too.”
For adoptive families, it can be frustrating to have a baby placed with them but be unable to return home to their normal life. Attorneys and adoption agencies understand how frustrating this can be, and they do all they can to expedite this process. Trust that your attorney is doing everything they can to complete the ICPC process as quickly as possible.
9. “After the adoption finalization, some states take months to send the amended birth certificate.”
If you need a birth certificate quickly for things like a passport, please let your attorney know as soon as possible. Otherwise, a birth certificate can take a good deal of time to make its way to you.
10. “Finalizing the adoption at the courthouse is a fun experience. However, it is still a courtroom.”
When you are in a court in front of the judge during your adoption finalization, you and your guests still need to dress appropriately. This means no shorts, no flip-flops, etc. While an adoption finalization can be a quick event that you already know meets all the requirements for approval, it’s still important to dress in an appropriate manner. If you have questions about your appearance during an adoption finalization, talk to your attorney or your adoption professional.
Remember, your adoption attorney will do everything they can to make your adoption process as positive and efficient as possible. Make sure to take their advice and suggestions; they’re only trying to make the process easy for you, letting you focus on what’s really important — creating your family.