November 22 marks National Adoption Day, a nationwide event designed to bring attention to the more than 100,000 children living in foster care while awaiting their forever families.
Last year, about 4,500 children living in foster care were adopted. And, since the inception of National Adoption Day 15 years ago, an estimated 50,000 children have been adopted, according to the organization’s statistics.
As a family law attorney, I am always happy when clients come to me asking for my help with the adoption process. Whether you seek a private adoption or an agency adoption I can assist with the legal aspects of your adoption.
Many people fear the process because they believe there is too much red tape; that they will only be able to adopt a child with some type of disability; that those available are older or in some way “damaged;” or that they risk having the birth parent take away the child.
Before considering adoption there are steps you can take to make sure it’s the right decision for you.
Explore all of your options: Will you adopt domestically or internationally? Will you work with an adoption agency or will this be a private adoption? There are many ways to adopt. It’s always best to do as much homework up front before committing to a process.
Consider the cost: While we don’t like to think about it, because no one wants to place a value on creating a family, there are fees associated with adopting. Will you be able to afford not only the process going forward, but are you financially secure enough to raise the child?
Beware of scams: Sadly, there are people who will take advantage of your emotional state. Never give anyone money upfront. This is where a professional adoption counselor or attorney can come into play. They will remain objective and are better able to handle any financial transactions.
Hire a professional: Make sure the attorney you hire is experienced in handling adoptions. Don’t hire the attorney who helps you with your business to handle your adoption.
Be patient: The process can take time. Working with someone who is familiar with the process will help you to understand when delays are expected and proper, and when they are not.
Adopting a child is a complicated process; it takes time, money and expertise. However, in the end most people who create their families through adoption will tell you it’s worth it.
Lori Barkus is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil and Family Law mediator and guardian ad litem. She handles matters relating to divorce, custody, child support, paternity, collaborative divorce, adoption, parental rights, and family law and civil mediation.
Ms. Barkus is a cum laude graduate of the University of Miami School of Law. She is admitted to practice in Florida, Georgia and the District of Columbia, as well as in the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida and the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Appeals. She is also a member of Leading Women for Shared Parenting.
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