I often hear: “It is just forms.” “Everyone agrees.” “Why do I need an adoption lawyer in North Carolina?”
You need an adoption attorney because:
- There is no “how to” video.
- Some things are just too important.
- It is important to get it right the first time.
- Your child’s future depends upon it.
Can you represent yourself? Absolutely. But, remember what Abraham Lincoln, a lawyer himself, said: “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”
I sometimes explain it this way: I had been practicing law for about 10 years when I purchased my home. I had never closed a real estate sale. I had seen it done. The software prepared the forms. I could probably have done it myself and saved some money.
But, I decided that, as the single largest investment I was ever likely to make, it was just too important. And, if I made a mistake, my wife would be very unhappy with me. So, I paid an experienced lawyer to do that for me.
I do know how to draft a will. I have drafted many wills. But, when it came time to prepare my own will, I hired an experienced lawyer to do that for me. You can certainly draft your own will. You can save yourself some money. After you die, it is likely that your intended heirs will have to hire an experienced lawyer to try and accomplish what you intended, but failed, to do. Your intended heirs will spend much more than it would have cost you to have a will prepared by a professional.
Likewise, you need to have an attorney complete your adoption for you.
An adoption attorney in North Carolina will:
- Provide an unbiased explanation of your options.
- Help you identify what is important to you.
- Make a plan to provide a secure placement.
- Explain your rights under state and federal law.
- Help you assess the risks of various opportunities.
- Clarify your options for post-placement arrangements.
Sometimes the best advice I give is to objectively assess placement opportunities. Each opportunity should be assessed against adoptive parents’ tolerance for various health, financial and legal risk factors. Those risks must be assessed in light of the strength of the adoptive parents’ desires and various preferences.
To adoptive parents, the very opportunity is exciting. They want to make the opportunity into a match and the match into a placement. However, it is the lawyer’s job to provide an objective risk assessment. That objectivity, or lack thereof, is what Lincoln was really talking about. Sometimes, I encourage prospective adoptive parents walk away from a potentially disastrous opportunity before they are committed to a match.
Sometimes, I problem solve. Lawyers are problem solvers. Every situation has some risk. The objective is to manage risk. That is what we do — evaluate, prepare, and execute a plan to manage the risk to accomplish your objectives in adopting a baby.
Tips on How to Choose an Adoption Lawyer:
- Contact an adoption lawyer early, even before you have committed to a match.
- Understand how fees are structured – fixed or hourly? Is any portion refundable?
- Ask about the scope of services – What is included and what is not?
- Have a list of questions ready. Ask each lawyer the same questions and compare their
Do I need to have a consultation?
You hire a team of professionals to help you adopt a baby. You need to interview each member of the team before hiring each one. Accomplishing your objective of adopting a baby requires working effectively with each member of the team. Do you need to have a face-to-face meeting with each potential team member? Maybe not. Telephone conference calls and video conferencing can take the place of the traditional meeting at the lawyer’s office. We can accommodate your needs.
Do you have a free consultation?
Yes and no. Usually, things are worth what you pay for them. To quote Lincoln again, “A lawyer’s time and advice are his stock in trade.” For the same reason, we do not give free consultations.
However, I frequently communicate with people by telephone and e-mail to get a quick overview of their situation and provide general answers. I do that because I do not want to take up their time with a meeting unless I can accomplish their objective.
When we take your time for a consultation, we are actively working to learn about your situation and explain how the law applies to your situation. Education and experience are the value that we add. Whether you hire us or not, you will leave a consultation with valuable information that you can use. If you hire us, you will also have a plan to accomplish your objective of adopting a baby.
After you meet with an adoption lawyer, ask yourselves these questions:
- Was the adoption lawyer knowledgeable?
- Did the adoption lawyer anticipate potential issues?
- Was the adoption lawyer available and responsive?
- Did the adoption lawyer explain the process so you could understand?
- Did the lawyer outline a step-by-step plan for accomplish your objectives?
- Did the lawyer answer your questions in a way that you could understand?
- Was the staff helpful?
- Was the fee arrangement in writing and clear?
- Did the adoption lawyer provided a detailed billing statement?
- Was the billing consistent with the terms of the contract?
How Do I Identify an Experienced Adoption Lawyer?
If I was choosing a lawyer, I would choose the one best suited to the job. I would visit their websites. I would want to know whether the lawyer considers adoptions to be a substantial part of his or her practice. If I want a recommendation for a lawyer, I ask another lawyer.
Experience counts when considering adoption lawyers. Look for:
- Certification in adoption or family law by the state licensing organization.
- A practice concentrated in adoption or assisted reproduction law.
- Memberships in professional organizations like the American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproductive Attorneys.
- Ask about the adoption lawyer’s experience. Having the right experience matters.
- Does he or she finalize fifty or more adoptions per year?
- Does he or she have experience in the type of adoption you are pursuing — relative adoption, interstate adoption, same-sex adoption, agency adoption, independent adoption, appeals, or contested adoptions.
- Has she or she represented adoptive parents in cases that have been appealed?
- Does he or she have experience in contested adoptions?
- Ask for references.
Why does it matter?
A swiss army knife is a handy tool. It is almost never the best tool. Experience matters. Having the right experience results in better quality of service.
If you’re considering an adoption lawyer in North Carolina, the law firm of Herring and Mills can help. Contact us today at 919-821-1860 for more information.