What to Ask Before Hiring an Adoption Attorney

Questions to ask an adoption attorney, general guidelines on standards — plus a free downloadable worksheet!

An adoption attorney, being asked questions to ask an adoption attorney

Financial Matters of Hiring an Adoption Attorney

  • What is the average cost of the adoptions you have handled?
  • How do you bill? Is your fee an hourly rate, or do you charge a flat fee? (Keep in mind that ethical, experienced adoption attorneys may have a higher hourly rate but charge less overall because they spend less time than a less-experienced adoption attorney would.)
  • Do you require a retainer fee in advance? If so, how much? What happens to my retainer fee if the birth mother changes her mind?

Qualifications of the Adoption Attorney

  • What is your experience, knowledge, competence? How long have you worked in adoption?
  • How many non-relative adoptions have you completed? How many this year? (Ten to 20 a year and several years of experience being an adoption attorney are desirable.) What percentage of your total practice is devoted to adoption? (Fifty to 100 percent suggests adoption expertise.)
  • What services do you provide? Will you actively assist me in finding an adoption situation as well as handle the necessary legal work? Attorneys in some states cannot match you to a birth mother (a practice that is allowed in many states). Make sure that you and the birth parents are represented by different adoption attorneys.

Working Relationships

  • What is your general philosophy about adoption? Why did you get involved in adoption?
  • Do you handle open adoptions, confidential adoptions or both? Do you have strong feelings about openness?
  • Will your office keep me up-to-date and involved?
  • Do you see counseling for birth parents as helpful? Why or why not?
  • Will you accept collect calls from birth parents? Do you have a toll-free number?
  • When you are away from the office, is another knowledgeable adoption attorney available?

Other Things to Think About When Considering an Adoption Attorney

  • Does the lawyer answer your questions to your satisfaction?
  • Does the lawyer return your phone calls promptly?
  • Is the lawyer sensitive to your feelings?
  • Is the lawyer well informed about adoption law?
  • Is the lawyer well organized?
  • Does the lawyer pressure you or make you feel uncomfortable with the decision-making process?
  • Does the lawyer openly discuss the financial and emotional risks involved?
  • Are the lawyer and support staff pleasant people who help you feel at ease and who will assist the birth parents graciously?

Search for attorneys in Building Your Family's Adoption Attorney Directory

Download Building Your Family's Adoption Attorney Worksheet, a free worksheet to fill out for each adoption attorney you’re considering.


Adapted from materials by Amy Silberberg and Diane Michelsen.

[mc4wp_form id="30309"]

Adoption Attorneys

[businessdirectory-listings category=10909]

See all adoption attorneys >


You are viewing this exclusive AF content as a guest. To access our full Adoption Parenting Library — plus digital issues, eBooks, expert audio and more — join Adoptive Families today.


Copyright © 1999-2019 Adoptive Families Magazine®. All rights reserved. For personal use only. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

More articles like this


Given email address is already subscribed, thank you!
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.
Please provide a valid email address.
Thank you, your sign-up request was successful! Please check your e-mail inbox.
Please complete the CAPTCHA.
Please fill in the required fields.