Adoption Lawyer Career Information

Adoption lawyers are specialists, working in one of the most sensitive areas of family law. Adoptions are not always easy because there can be difficult issues in any adoption having to prove that a person will be a suitable as a parent. There are also international laws like the Hague Adoption Convention, which may affect adoption. 

The Work Environment

Adoption law is universally complex. In most countries, adoption laws are extremely strict, and in many cases the adoption process is highly bureaucratic. The adoption lawyer is involved in all phases of the adoption process as an adviser to intending parents prior to application, and handles the related paperwork for the application. 

Adoption legal requirements may include medical screening processes, and additional immigration requirements, both of which may involve the adoption lawyer in an advisory or active role in representation. Adoptions are handled in several stages:

  • The application process: Application is made to an adoption agency or if possible privately (private adoption is illegal in several US states) for custody of an eligible child selected by the applicants. This is a formal legal process, requiring proper identification of the intending parents and full disclosure of all required details according to law. These requirements can vary considerably depending on jurisdiction. Applicants may be required to provide information on practically any aspect of their lives if adoption laws require them, including financial situations and any past legal history which may be relevant to the application. 
  • The review process: This is a detailed check of the application against statutory criteria, involving in some cases policy issues and guidelines for adoption. 
  • The decision process: The determining authority, a court in the US, decides Yes or No, and provides grounds for its decision if negative. At this point the adoption lawyer may have to appeal the decision, if the applicants want to proceed further and contest the ruling. This is quite common, as a result of the strict legal requirements of adoptions. 
  • In many cases appeals against a negative finding may be made to a higher court, this is a very technical adversarial process, which may involve several months of preparation by the adoptions lawyer. An attorney will be required to gather legal materials to contest the issues raised by the decision.
  • US entry requirements: If successful, US applicants adopting children from overseas must also receive clearance from US Citizenship and Immigration Services. This is another area of involvement for adoption lawyers. 

Wages: Fees based.

Hours: Standard legal hours may vary in cases of international adoption. 

The Career Environment

Adoption is becoming increasingly common throughout the world, and international jurisdictions are often involved in the adoption lawyer's role. This situation often requires applicants to hire specialist adoption lawyers who are familiar with the home country's adoption procedures and the laws relating to foreign citizens and adoption. 

The sometimes very high levels of difficulty in adoption have created an increased demand for specialists. Applicants need reliable legal advice and support throughout the adoption process. As specialists, adoption lawyers achieve career progression in terms of the nature of their work. Adoption lawyers may be self employed or members of legal firms providing these services.