They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, the saying is also true when it comes to adopting a child. At AFTH we ensure that families have access to all resources needed to fulfill their adoption journey. AFTH partners with wonderful adoption attorneys to help provide legal confidence throughout the entire process.
Guest Blogger, Diana Schimmel, Esq. dives into the benefits of working with an adoption lawyer. Read on:
Adoption is certainly the happy side of family law. The decision to expand your family is exciting, and the adoption process can and should remain a joyful experience from start to finish. Tacking the steps alone can be overwhelming at times, especially when questions and unexpected obstacles arise. That’s why many parents benefit from building an “adoption team” of trusted and dependable professionals including an experienced adoption attorney.
There are many benefits to engaging a qualified attorney. The uncertainty of the legal process can be daunting on many levels. An attorney is more than just a useful guide as parents work toward adopting a child; he or she can also be their ally and confidant.
There are three main benefits of hiring a lawyer to assist with an adoption:
- Instant answers to critical questions
- Help navigating the process
If you’re considering adoption but are unsure if you should seek the help of an attorney, it is my hope that the breakdown below will help you decide if doing so is right for your situation.
Benefit #1: Confidence
People who contact our firm for assistance with their adoption most often give us the same primary reasoning: They need the confidence that everything will be done correctly from day one – all I’s dotted, all T’s crossed. These parents know (or soon find out) that an experienced adoption attorney can do the following:
- Identify possible problems and prevent them before they happen
- Complete the necessary steps and ensure the process runs smoothly
- Define the terms of the adoption – whether it will be open, if contact will be permitted, etc.
Having a new child enter your life and family should mean happiness and excitement; a mistake can set you back and even prevent the adoption from happening at all. The peace of mind that someone with experience is handling the process is worth it.
Benefit #2: Answers
Parents who are working toward adoption need to remain informed so they make the best possible decisions. But if you’ve never adopted a child before, you will likely not have all the answers you need on-hand – especially when questions arise unexpectedly.
An adoption attorney can answer tough questions, explain possible scenarios and outcomes from the decisions you could make, and help you make the choices that are right for your family. The Internet is a great resource for information, but having a real person available to answer your questions can be indispensable for a smooth, stress-free experience.
Benefit #3: Navigation
For some, moving through the steps of adoption can feel like steering a ship without a compass. An attorney can help you navigate the process not only by helping you make informed critical decisions, but also by taking on many tasks you would otherwise have to do alone. These tasks might include (but are not limited to):
- Filing necessary paperwork, meeting deadlines, etc.
- Connecting you with an agency if needed
- Attending consultations and home studies
- Representing you in court if needed
- Reviewing legal agreements and finalizing the adoption
- Providing support after adoption, such as updating your will, life insurance policy, etc.
A qualified attorney can be useful at any stage of the adoption process – even before you have taken the first step to adopt a child. If you’ve just begun to consider adoption, he or she can discuss your full range of options based on your individual situation. If you have already started the process of adopting a child, your lawyer can explain what to expect from now until completion of the adoption, and he or she can take on the complex tasks and ensure the rest of the process is successful.
Truly, an attorney’s help goes far beyond identifying the steps that distinguish the different types of adoption – for example, private versus public, adopting a relative, searching for a surrogate or donor, a same-sex partnership adopting biological children, stepparent adoption, and so on – it’s also in knowing what kinds of complexities may arise, how parents may feel emotionally, and what they may need on many levels through the process. This kind of tailored representation is exactly what makes a qualified attorney an important part of an adoption team.
Diana Schimmel has dedicated her career to family law. She established Schimmel Family Law in 2013, and after working as a solo practitioner for almost four years, Diana partnered with Melinda Previtera to establish Previtera & Schimmel. In 2017, they merged with another prominent family law firm to become Petrelli Previtera Schimmel, LLC.
Earlier in her career, Diana worked as a child advocate attorney for the Defender Association of Philadelphia in its Child Advocacy Unit. As an active member of the legal community, her outstanding work continues to earn her the recognition of her peers. She has been included in Pennsylvania Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars List and selected as a Lawyer on the Fast Track by The Legal Intelligencer. Diana has also been named a Top Family Law Attorney by Philadelphia Life Magazine and Best Overall Advocate by the Widener Intensive Trial Advocacy Program. Diana volunteers with the Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program, The Montgomery Child Advocacy Project and The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research.