Pregnant and Considering Adoption

When facing an unplanned pregnancy, it can be difficult to decide where to turn for help. Consulting with an experienced adoption attorney can benefit you in many ways.  Unlike an adoption agency that has professional obligations to both you and the adopting parents, your attorney’s professional obligation and loyalty are to you alone. Your attorney is your representative and advocate and will ensure that your rights are protected and that your wishes are heard and respected.

Your adoption attorney can help you assess all of your options and assist you in creating an adoption plan that is right for you. You will always have the opportunity to select the adopting parents for your child, and your attorney will advise you on the methods used to locate them and learn more about them. You will also have the opportunity to speak with them and meet them in person, if you desire. If you prefer a closed adoption and you do not wish to select the adopting parents, your attorney can guide you. With your attorney’s help, you can decide whether to retain an adoption agency or whether the adoption should proceed independently. Either way, your attorney will ensure that you receive the support you need, including adoption counseling and appropriate medical care, as well as financial assistance, as legally permitted.

If you are concerned about your financial burden, you should know that your legal fees and counseling fees are typically paid by the adoptive parents. This is legally allowable.  Recognizing the importance of counseling, New Jersey law requires that all birth parents be offered options counseling through a licensed adoption agency in the parent’s state of residence without cost to them. This is to ensure that you understand your options other than placing your child for adoption, so that you can properly evaluate whether adoption is the right choice for you. The adopting parents may also pay for educational and supportive counseling for you both before and after the baby is born. This will help you understand adoption, both during the placement and as a life-long process, and prepare you for the emotions you may experience. If you do not have Medicaid or insurance, or if your insurance does not cover all of your medical expenses in connection with your pregnancy and the birth of your child, these expenses will be paid by the adopting parents. New Jersey law allows the adopting parents to assist you with reasonable and necessary pregnancy related living expenses, as defined under the law.

Many birth parents wish to maintain some contact with the adoptive family after the child is placed for adoption, whether that consists of letters and pictures, e-mail, visits, or other contact. You attorney can help draft an agreement memorializing your agreement with the family. While not legally enforceable in New Jersey, a written agreement helps to clarify intentions and the purpose of the contact, which should be primarily to benefit the child.

If you have questions or would like to learn more, please feel free to call me at 973- 366-2499 or e-mail me at jean@jeanmcavalierelaw.com. If you would like to meet and travel is difficult for you, I would be happy to meet with you at a location that is convenient for you.