Adoption, whether it is domestic or international is the complex legal process of transferring the legal custody of a child from one person (or institution) to another. Some people wonder if avoiding the cost of an adoption attorney is a good way to reduce their out-of-pocket expenses. Adoption laws are on the books, so why do they need a lawyer? Can’t they look up the laws themselves and make sure they follow them?
The answer is complicated. It is true that the laws are on the books, but like many legal processes, the laws governing the adoption process have changed over the years due to case law. Case law is law that is based on decisions that judges have made in past cases. Many times, laws on the books take time to catch up to case law. Additionally, the Interstate Adoption and Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC) as well as the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption governs certain adoption processes.
If one was to try to navigate the legal portions of adoption alone using laws on the books, they would be operating with limited information. In order to find and interpret the relevant case law, one would practically need to go to law school. Adoption lawyers are well-versed in adoption law. They can walk you through the process and ensure that every step of the way everything is done legally and correctly. While it is tempting to consider avoiding hiring an adoption lawyer during your adoption process, it would be a huge mistake. It may also be tempting to ask your family lawyer to work on the adoption process for you for a lower fee than an adoption attorney. Unless your family lawyer is well-versed in adoption law and a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (AAAA), he/she may need to conduct extensive research into laws impacting on your adoption and thus may in the end cost you more than an attorney who is an expert in adoption. We have seen families try to go it alone and try to use an attorney who is not part of the AAAA. In both types of cases, many mistakes were made which could have easily been avoided by hiring a qualified adoption attorney. These mistakes ended up costing these families months and months of time and thousands of dollars.
In the end, there is a very good chance you will end up making many mistakes without sound legal advice. Fixing those mistakes is costly as well as time consuming. While it is tempting to try to cut down costs with a DIY approach, we do not suggest it. We cannot stress the importance of a good lawyer enough. It is worth every penny to get your child home as quickly and easily as possible with the right legal support.