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Adoption Attorney vs. Agency

ImperfectGirl

Shiny_Rock
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May 27, 2010
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309
Hi!

Many of you know that my husband and I are in the middle of the adoption process. We are matched with a birth mom who is almost 35 weeks. We really need to hire an attorney for her or an agency to help guide her thru the process. We've narrowed it down and are faced with 2 choices and I hope a few people will weigh in on which way they'd go.

Option 1 - Adoption attorney. Retainer = $5K, hourly rate = $350/hr, unbilled monies will be refunded if adoption is unsuccessful. We will also need to pay an $800 fee to an agency she works with to witness the consent of adoption. Includes necessary legal services. I’ve had quite a few attorneys in the state refer me to this attorney. This is option is great because the attorney comes highly recommended and if the work completed is less than the retainer, we'll recieve a partial refund.

Option 2 - Agency – Fee = $5500 flat fee. Includes counseling before and after the birth for birthmother, all legal aspects of the adoption, help with hospital plans/coordination and discharge coordination. No part of this fee is refundable under any circumstances.
Obviously going the agency route is a risk since none of it is refundable and we've already experienced a failed adoption so we're skittish. We are not wealthy by any means so this would be a big loss if the adoption failed. The agency is appealing because the cap is $5,500 so there’s no chance we’ll be surprised with a bill and it includes counseling for birthmom and some coordination at the hospital and discharge.

Which option would you choose?

Thanks! :))
 

Loves Vintage

Ideal_Rock
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Joined
Nov 19, 2007
Messages
4,563
Hi IG,

Is the agency the same agency that matched you with the birth mom? Or a different agency? Any feedback on that agency? I suppose I would lean toward the attorney. Is she able to give you an idea of what a typical adoption costs? It must be 5k or less, right? Under what circumstances would her fees exceed 5k? Oh, and last question -- how much work is done before the actual adoption? I mean, if she typically does 2 hours worth of work BEFORE the birth, and then spends more time finalizing things AFTER the time in which the birth mom might be able to change her mind, then you would really only have $700 at risk vs. ALL of the work being done weeks in advance of the birth. I hope that makes sense.

In any event, I suppose I'd really lean toward the attorney because she is highly recommended, and it sounds like she is an expert in the field. I'd be willing to pay $$$ to make sure the deal is done properly.

ETA: I read your post too quickly the first time. I see that the reason the agency is attractive is because of the cap, but it's not refundable. Can the attorney give you an idea of how often and when her fees would exceed $5,000?
 

ImperfectGirl

Shiny_Rock
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May 27, 2010
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309
Thanks for replying LV...turns out that I misread the attorney's retainer agreement. She is actually charging a flat fee of $5K. This will cover all of the 'normal' procedures involved in our interstate adoption. If anything out of the ordinary occurs (like birth father contesting the adoption) then she will charge for her work at her hourly rate.

After further questioning I also found out that the agency will require we hire their attorney to represent them.

so, we decided to go with the adoption attorney. She is an expert in her field and our attorney here in TX is comfortable with her. We are going to find some counseling for her near her home that she can take advantage of if she chooses.
 

Loves Vintage

Ideal_Rock
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Nov 19, 2007
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4,563
Oh good, sounds like a much easier decision, and good that you have someone who is solely representing you/your dh's interests. When does all of the paperwork get finalized? Shortly after the birth?
 

ImperfectGirl

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Thanks LV. We love our attorney! Yes, we can finalize about 6-8 weeks after the birth. We have to have one home visit from our social worker in that time and then our attorney can ask the state of TX to waive the 6 month waiting period so we can go ahead and finalize as quickly as possible. She said they waive it all the time...we're certainly hoping so since we'd like to recoup some of our costs with the adoption tax credit. It's at its highest at $13,170 for 2011 and is refundable. It's scheduled to drop next year and as of now isn't scheduled to be refundable. Thank you for being so supportive! :))
 

megumic

Brilliant_Rock
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Mar 8, 2009
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1,647
I was going to vote private adoption attorney, so I'm glad that's what you chose! Good luck with your adoption!
 

Loves Vintage

Ideal_Rock
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Nov 19, 2007
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4,563
That's great about the credit! I wasn't aware of the credit or how it worked. That is so ODD, but not surprising I guess, that the amount of the credit and whether it's refundable or not can vary so much from year to year! You would think it would be more consistent. Looks like you can carry the credit forward each year until it's exhausted, so at least there's that. (I just looked it up because I didn't get the refundable vs. non-refundable part, but I get it now.)

So, the attorney is one more thing to check off your list, right? One step closer now! :))
 

lliang_chi

Ideal_Rock
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Mar 13, 2008
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3,740
IG, I'm glad you're happy with the private attorney. I'm keeping your family in my thoughts, friend. :)
 

ImperfectGirl

Shiny_Rock
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May 27, 2010
Messages
309
Megumic - thanks! The attorney really was the right choice for us!

LV - yes, it is odd how the amount changes from year to year. I really hope they decide to keep it up higher since adoption can be so expensive.

Bella- yes, she is a member of the AAAA! She is super knowledgeable and we feel like birth mom is in good hands.

LC - thank you for your continued support. :))


We are officially retaining her today so there is nothing left to do except wait. :))
 
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