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What to look for when selecting an adoption lawyer?
Choosing an adoption lawyer is a little different than choosing a lawyer for other things. At Graham Law Firm in Northern Virginia, two things stand out: expertise and personality. Adoption is a specialized area of the law that is quite different from other types of family law, such as divorce and child custody. For this reason, you want to avoid hiring a lawyer whose practice is not specifically focused on adoption.
A good way to find someone with real expertise is to hire someone who is a fellow of the American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AARTA). This organization has high standards for membership and requires that the member has done a large number of adoptions, as well as undergoing continuing education. They have a directory where you can look up attorneys by state here.
The other factor you want to consider is whether the lawyer feels like a good fit for you, personally. Throughout the adoption process, you will be working closely with your attorney and sharing quite a bit of personal information with them. Adoption is an emotional process. Think about whether this is a person you feel comfortable talking to, particularly if you are planning a private adoption (where things can move very quickly once the birth mother goes into labor). You will want to ask about the attorney’s policies for being available to you after hours for urgent questions.
In What Way Are Stepparent Adoptions Different?
Stepparent adoptions and adoptions by close relatives are quite a bit simpler than other types of adoption thanks to Virginia laws that streamline the procedures for these adoptions. However, there are still a lot of important details in a stepparent or close relative adoption. Failure to follow the law to the letter can result in your adoption being a lot more expensive, or even cause the adoption to not go through. Your best bet is to speak to a lawyer with adoption experience from day one.
Virginia Adoption Laws – adoption laws can vary by state
It’s important to know that adoption laws can vary widely by state. For example, in Virginia, it is illegal for anyone other than a licensed child-placing agency to match a family with a baby to adopt. Meaning that if you pay an “adoption facilitator,” which is legal in some other states, it could cause serious problems in your adoption. Similarly, Virginia has very strict rules about what adoptive parents may pay for on behalf of the birth mother, and improper payments can void your adoption. Also, special procedures must be followed if the adopting parents are in a different state from the birth parents. By hiring a professional law firm to deal with your adoption legalities, like Graham Law Firm, you will be looked after by an experienced adoption lawyer who will be aware of all of these issues and will be able to help you to navigate through them.
The Right Experience Is What Matters Most
Naturally, an attorney with more years of experience is likely to be more knowledgeable than someone who just started. However, it is also important to pay attention to which areas of law the lawyer has gained his or her experience. If you need an adoption lawyer, one that has spent 5 years specializing in adoptions is a better choice than a lawyer who has 15 years of experience, but specializes in divorce.
Why Choose Graham Law Firm for adoption?
Our team has expert lawyers who practice adoption law as their primary practice area. Amongst our team, we have lawyers who are members of the American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys and Child Welfare Law Specialist, accredited by the National Association of Counsel for Children. The head of our adoption law team is extremely devoted and loves working with families. To us, each family and child is very special to us, and we strive to be good listeners so that we can set our clients’ mind at ease knowing that we will be there for them when they need advice or guidance.