1. Adoption Lawyers Know Adoption Law.
Both Kansas and Missouri have a set of statutes that describe in great detail how lawyers should handle adoptions. Sometimes the meaning of the statutes isn’t always clear, so there are a lot of court opinions interpreting them. A lawyer handling an adoption needs to know both the statutes and the case law. An adoption lawyer will be very familiar with both and know how to apply them in your adoption.
2. An Adoption Lawyer Knows the Adoption Judge.
A good adoption lawyer will know how the judge handling your adoption case views the law. The lawyer will also know how the judge schedules cases and wants adoption handled in their courtroom.
3. An Adoption Lawyer Will Have a Good Relationship with Key Hospital Personnel.
When the baby is born, the reality of adoption starts to set in for both the adoptive parents and the birth parents. It’s important that the lawyers involved have a good relationship with key hospital personnel (mainly hospital adoption social workers) so that everyone’s time together at the hospital goes as smoothly as possible. A good adoption lawyer will know the hospital’s social worker and its policies and procedures regarding adoptions.
4. An Adoption Lawyer Will Get You Your New Birth Certificate Faster.
Each state’s bureau of vital records has its own requirements for adoption paperwork. A good adoption lawyer will follow these policies so that your child’s new birth certificate arrives as soon as possible.
5. An Adoption Lawyer Will Know What the Indian Child Welfare Act is and How to Comply with It.
If the child you’re adopting has a certain amount of Native American ancestry, the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (“ICWA”) could apply. If ICWA applies, it must be followed. A good adoption lawyer will know how to determine whether ICWA applies, and, if it does, how to do so. Failure to follow ICWA when it applies could jeopardize the adoption.
6. An Adoption Lawyer Will Tell You About the Adoption Tax Credits.
Depending on your household income, your adoption expenses might qualify for the federal adoption tax credit. Qualified adoption expenses reduce your tax liability dollar for dollar. Both Missouri and Kansas have state level adoption tax credits.
7. An Adoption Lawyer Will Get You Home Faster.
In interstate adoptions, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (the “ICPC”) applies. The ICPC is straightforward, but a lawyer has to know what they’re are doing to comply with it. If they don’t, their clients could be stuck in a motel room or Airbnb in another state while they figure it out.
8. A Good Adoption Lawyer Will Know What to Do If a Birth Father Fights the Adoption.
The most stress an adopting family will experience is when a birth father fights the adoption. A good adoption lawyer will know how to navigate this challenge.
9. A Good Adoption Lawyer Will Advise You About What and How Much You Can Give the Birth Mother.
Both Missouri and Kansas have statutes that say what the adopting parents can provide financially to or on behalf of the expectant mother. Additionally, each judge has their own view on how much living expenses is deemed appropriate. A good adoption lawyer will know both the written and unwritten rules about what you can do for a birth mother.
10. A Good Adoption Lawyer Won’t Represent Both Sides.
Because there’s a potential for conflict of interest between the adopting family and the birth mother/birth parents, it is best practice to not represent both sides.
Kevin W. Kenney graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1980, then spent a dozen years in the radio business having fun. When he met his wife, she told him he always wanted to be a lawyer. So, he graduated from UMKC School of Law in 1995. He’s a member of the American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproductive Attorneys. Learn more about adoption from his website, kevinwkenney.com.