Interview Questions For Adoption Lawyers
This extensive questionnaire is broken into three sections of questions: Attorney Specific, Services Offered, and Fees, plus a list of documents to request that they send to you and a place to evaluate the feel you get from them.
- Do not e-mail this list to attorneys you are considering. It is the conversation where you will pick up on the personality and philosophy of the agency.
- These interviews take time, and it is only fair that you make an appointment so the firm can have the right person speak with you and that the person will have allocated enough time.
- When you interview an attorney, take notes and label them according to the question you are asking.
- When you have finished the interview, take the time right then to analyze if you would enjoy working with this attorney. What was their attitude and how helpful were they?
- How long have you been practicing adoption law?
- Is your practice exclusive to adoption? Primary?
- Are you a member the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (AAAA), American College of Assisted Reproduction and Adoption Lawyers (ACARAL), and/or American Bar Association Section on Family Law, Adoption Committee?
- How many adoptions did you complete last year? The year before?
- Are you licensed in my state of residence?
- How many adoptions that you completed in the last two years were of children born out of state? How long did it take to complete the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)? (You should ask this question to determine the adoption lawyers level of competence with the ICPC even if you think you will adopt a child born in your state because you do not know where you will find your child when hiring.)
- What was the average wait for the last two years for families that look like mine in terms of marital status, age, race, sexual orientation, and risk factors and race we are open to? What is the shortest wait? Longest wait?
- How many adoptive parent profiles are you trying to match right now?
- How do you find expectant mothers that may be considering an adoption plan for their child?
- How many of your adoption in the last two year were open? What is your opinion on open adoption, and how do you facilitate openness?
- What percentage of expectant mothers in your practice change their mind after a match but before or immediately after the birth?
- How long do birth parents have to change their mind after they have relinquished in my state?
- Explain the adoption process. (This helps you understand both the process, as well as the attorney’s ability to explain complex ideas in a comprehensible manner.)
- Are attorneys allowed to “match” expectant mothers with adoptive parents in this state? If so, do you provide this service?
- What type of resources do you provide to the expectant woman on the option of parenting the child herself?
- What counseling options are provided for expectant mothers both pre and post adoption are provided as part of the adoption fees paid by adoptive parents?
- How long post adoption can the birth mother access counseling without charge?
- Do you represent both the adoptive family and the expectant woman or does the expectant woman have a separate lawyer? If you represent both, is there a conflict of interest?
- If an expectant woman changes her mind and decides to parent is she charged for the services she has received?
- How do you handle obtaining the consent of the biological father even if he has not been identified? What risk do I run when adopting a child with an unidentified birth father?
- How do you handle the situation if a child is born with disabilities?
- Do you provide additional adoption education other than the home study, or can you recommend a good resource?
- How long do you keep adoption files and contact information on the birth parents?
- What will happen to the adoption files when/if you close your practice?
- Are you available to answer questions by phone or do you have a paralegal or assistant to handle routine questions?
- What are you office hours? What is you policy for returning emails and telephone calls? How soon?
- What is your plan for weekend and after hour coverage of cases?
- How do you charge? Hourly? Flat fee?
- If hourly, what is the hourly fee?
- Is there a cap on fees?
- Do you require a retainer payment up front?
- Is every phone call billed separately?
- How are paralegal and assistants charged? Hourly? If so, what is the hourly rate?
- Do you charge for copies of documents? If so, what is this charge?
- What charges are applied against the retainer?
- What is the average cost of an adoption you completed in the last two years?
- What are the average birth mother expenses in your practice in the last one or two years?
- What is your policy on fees and expenses paid for an adoption when the expectant woman changes her mind and decides to parent?
- An itemized list of all costs, fees, or expenses and when they are due. Make sure to include estimates for costs that are paid for outside services (e.g. home study, document preparation, etc).
- The latest audited financial statements and the internal financial report for last year.
- Contracts, liability waivers, confidentiality agreements, or other paperwork that we will need to sign.
- References (name, telephone number and email address) of families that closely resemble ours and were open to similar risk factors.
Evaluation of Feel
- How thorough and honest were their answers?
- How easy was it to talk with the attorney?
- Did I feel rushed?
- Did I speak with the person I will primarily be working with?
- How knowledgeable did they seem about adoption?
- Did it seem like they were more interested in my understanding what to expect or were they trying to sell me on their services by glossing over potential problems?
- How clear was information on cost and waiting times? Did I have to dig to get this information?
- How courteous was the staff I spoke with?
- How promptly were materials mailed and phone calls returned?