Private independent adoptions are those in which the adopting parent or parents work directly with the birth parent(s) instead of through an adoption agency. Birth mothers are matched with adoptive parents in different ways. Licensed adoption agencies must still be involved as they must investigate the adoptive parents and their home by doing a “home study” and preparing a report which is later filed in the adoption case at court. There are many things that can go wrong, so working with an experienced and knowledgeable adoption lawyer is crucial to success.
How do you begin?
The attorney-client fee agreement is the first piece of paperwork the client must address in the private, independent adoption process. This agreement is very important because it establishes the legal relationship of attorney and client and sets forth what the attorney will do for the client. It should also clearly spell out the expected fees and costs the client will have to pay. In many cases, the attorney will work with an Adoption Service Provider (“ASP”) who is a specially-trained Social Worker. The ASP will meet with the birth parents and make sure they understand they are permanently giving up their parental rights as they place their child for adoption and consent to the adoption of their child. The attorney will work with hospital staff, put them on notice of the anticipated adoption, and ensure that paperwork is prepared so that the adoptive parents are allowed to take the child home directly from the hospital. In California, birth parents have up to 30 days to change their minds about consenting to the adoption of their child. However, birth parents may elect to take an additional step and sign a waiver of their right to revoke their consent. By signing such a waiver, the birth parent voluntarily gives up his or her right to change her mind about placing the child for adoption within the thirty day period. Special paperwork and procedures are required for these revocations to be legally effective. Working with an attorney who understands these procedures thoroughly ensures essential legal papers, such as this waiver and all court forms are prepared properly and signed and filed according to law.