The question of legal representation in an adoption can get a bit tricky.
Regardless of how an expectant parent finds an adoptive family, it’s the adoptive parents who will pay for all of the adoption professionals involved. The adoptive parents will usually have their own attorney and they may also have hired an adoption agency and/or a facilitator. However, in the majority of adoptions in this country, the expectant mother is the only one not represented by her own attorney! AdoptMatch is on a mission to change that. Only prospective adoptive parents who are working with an agency or attorney who has promised to offer expectant parents their own attorney are permitted to post their profile on AdoptMatch. We want to make sure that expectant moms and birth moms are fully informed of their rights throughout the adoption process.
Unfortunately, only a handful of states require that the birth mothers be separately represented or at least be offered separate representation. In the vast majority of states, it’s up to the adoptive parents’ agency or attorney to make the offer. Even if it’s not required in your state, it’s permitted in every state, so make sure you ask for it. It doesn’t mean you don’t trust the agency or attorney representing the adoptive parents; they are usually very honest and really do want the best for you. It’s just that sometimes the interests of adoptive and expectant parents differ and it’s impossible for one attorney or agency to be truly impartial in their advocacy for each.
Expectant moms need to fully understand the legal process and to have an opportunity to ask questions about each step of the process.
This legal advice should be coming from her own attorney, not from the adoptive parents’ attorney or a social worker! While adoption is definitely a collaborative effort between adoptive parents and the expectant mother, it’s essential that all parties be fully informed of their rights and have their own advocate. An expectant parent should only work with adoption professionals who encourage her to have her own separate attorney.
There are several issues that are important to discuss with your own attorney. You may have questions about the adoptive parents’ background or home study. You may be having second thoughts about whether the family you initially chose is right for you. You own attorney can help you find out more information or even change families in a legal way, if necessary. It’s also important that you be fully advised about the consequences of signing or not signing a post adoption contact agreement and that your own attorney review it with you to make sure it meets your expectations for future contact with your child.
Discussing the issue of the birth father with your own attorney is also vital. You need to be free to discuss difficult situations in a confidential environment with someone committed to your best interests. Your own attorney can also help you secure the emotional and financial support you need to maintain a healthy pregnancy both physically and emotionally.
Whether or not you find a family on AdoptMatch, we want you to make sure that you move forward with your adoption plan fully informed and represented.