Do I Need a Lawyer for My Adoption?

child holding hand

Adoption is a wonderful life-changing event, bringing together a child who needs a family and a family who wants the joy of having a child to love and care for. Building your family through adoption will require the assistance of an experienced adoption attorney who can guide you through the legal process involved with your adoption. By learning about the process and working with an experienced adoption attorney, you will gain a good understanding of the legal steps that are required to successfully complete your adoption.

So what should you be considering?

Private Adoptions and Agency Adoptions

A private independent adoption and an agency adoption both require the services of an adoption attorney. A private independent adoption is a direct placement between the birth mother and the adoptive parent. An agency adoption involves placement of the child with the adoptive parent by a public or private licensed child-placing agency. In both private and agency adoptions, you will need an approved homestudy by a licensed social worker.  Krigel & Krigel’s adoption attorneys can advise you on the adoption laws in Missouri and Kansas.  Our attorneys can also help you find a qualified and experienced social worker to complete your homestudy. It is helpful to consult an attorney early in the process so that the adoption laws and your adoption options can be fully explained.

Filing an Adoption Case

Whether you choose a private independent adoption or an agency adoption, an adoption case will be filed by your adoption attorney in the appropriate court. In Missouri and Kansas, the adoption case will not be filed until after the child’s birth, but there are legal issues that can arise prior to the child’s birth that your adoption attorney can help you with. For example, there may be concerns about the birthfather or concerns about payment of reasonable living expenses to your birth mother during her pregnancy. Your Kansas City adoption attorney can advise you and guide you through the legal process and procedures for your adoption, both before and after the child’s birth.

Court Hearings and Obtaining a Decree of Adoption

Your adoption attorney will accompany you to the court hearings after your adoption case is filed. In Missouri, adoptive parents can expect to attend two hearings. The first hearing will not occur until the child is at least 48 hours old.  The second hearing occurs after you have had custody of the child for six months. In Kansas, adoptive parents typically attend only one court hearing, which usually occurs within 60 days after the adoption case is filed. At the final adoption hearing in both Missouri and Kansas, your attorney will obtain a decree/judgment of adoption for you.  For many people, this may be the first time you are in a courtroom or the first time you must testify. Your adoption attorney will make sure you know what to expect at the hearings.

Every State is Different

Keep in mind that adoption laws differ from state to state. Missouri and Kansas adoption laws are not the same and sometimes, the legal procedures to complete an adoption differ, depending on the county where the adoption case is filed. If an adoption involves two states (adoptive parents reside in a different state than the child’s birth mother), then a law called the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) must be complied with. If ICPC is not complied with, the adoption can be jeopardized. It is important to have an experienced adoption attorney who knows the relevant laws and procedures that will apply to your adoption so that your journey to parenthood is completed in a lawful and ethical manner.

How to Find an Experienced Kansas City Adoption Attorney?

If you want to speak to a Kansas or Missouri adoption attorney, please take a look at our Adoption Law practice group here at Krigel & Krigel.

And if you want to learn more about Adoptions, you can read our post on The Top 5 Things to Consider Before Adopting.

Image: Thinkstock/fatesun
*This article is very general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. Readers with legal questions should consult with an attorney prior to making any legal decisions.

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