There is no law saying that you must have an adoption attorney to represent you when you are adopting a child in Arkansas, but there are good reasons to consider it. Adopting without an adoption attorney can be more difficult and more stressful than you expect.
When you might choose to adopt without an attorney
Why does an adoptive parent decide to adopt without an attorney? Sometimes it’s because things seem like they’re going to be smooth and easy. Maybe you know a birth mother who seems happy to consent to the adoption, and you expect the process to be simple. Maybe you are a relative of the child — even a stepparent or grandparent. What could be simpler?
But adoption isn’t simple. Pregnancy and birth are always an emotional roller coaster, and an unplanned pregnancy can be an emotional roller coaster in an emotional whirlwind. Look at some of the situations that have recently come up in Arkansas courts:
- A birth father who didn’t support his child and rarely got in touch — until the child’s stepfather adopted the child with the mother’s consent, when the birth father contested the adoption.
- A birth father of a newborn who contested the adoption of his child after the birth mother gave consent in a private adoption.
- A birth mother who changed her mind about the adoption several months after the birth of the baby, arguing that she had been pressured into agreeing to the adoption.
These situations can’t always be foreseen. They can be a surprise hurdle in a case which seemed simple up to that point. And they can be heartbreaking.
An experienced adoption attorney can foresee problems, simplify the process, and support both adoptive and birth parents through the adoption. Often, problems can be avoided.
Choosing another type of attorney
Just as people sometimes decide that they don’t need an attorney at all, they sometimes decide to go with an attorney who is not a specialist in adoptions.
Family attorneys often focus primarily on divorce. There are many legal issues involved in divorce, from alimony to child custody, and division of property. They may draw up prenuptial agreements and deal with criminal cases of domestic abuse. Adoptions are likely to be an occasional experience.
An adoption attorney, on the other hand, should have extensive experience of adoptions. An adoption attorney will understand the paperwork and know the court system — but also have a real understanding of the human experience of adoption.
Don’t try adopting without an attorney
There is no reason to set yourself up for a difficult adoption — or even a failed adoption. If your adoption process turns difficult, you will be glad to have an experienced adoption attorney on your side. But an adoption attorney can also often keep the adoption from becoming difficult.
This is such a life-changing event for you and your family, you owe it to yourself to make it the best experience possible.