While many adoption professionals may suggest that you that don’t need your own attorney, we believe that when the adoptive parents are represented by a lawyer and the expectant mother is not, it creates an unfair imbalance in the relationship and the overall process (yes, even when everyone loves each other!). In an adoption, you are being asked to sign important legal documents (including the adoption consent and the post adoption contact agreement) that have permanent consequences. While many states don’t require that an expectant parent is separately represented, we believe that it is the most ethical way of approaching adoption.
Regardless of how you find your adoptive family, it’s the adoptive parents who will pay for all of the adoption professionals involved. The adoptive parents usually have their own attorney and they may also have hired an adoption agency. In the vast majority of adoptions, the birth mother is not represented by her own attorney. Only 17 states require that the birth mother be separately represented or at least be offered separate representation and require the adoptive parents to pay for her attorney. Regardless, as the expectant parent, you can and should ask for separate legal representation. Even if you don’t have your own attorney, in most states you’re required to be formally advised of your rights by a social worker. Sometimes, though, that advisement doesn’t happen until very near the birth of your child. Make sure you know your legal rights and don’t be afraid to ask questions frequently throughout the process.