I am a foster parent. I need an attorney. How do I go about finding the best one? The answer is as easy as 1-2-3.
First, ask yourself why you need an attorney. The four most common reasons for foster parents are: when you want to adopt; when allegations are being charged against you; when you have been waiting forever for a termination of parental rights to be filed; and when a child you have come to care for over time is being moved for what appears to be no good reason. In other words, you probably need to go to court.
Second, once your reasons are clear, ask your fellow foster parents who have faced a similar problem for their recommendations. If you don’t know anyone, post a query on Facebook with the Indiana Foster and Adoption Parents group (IFAAP). Be sure to get more than one recommendation so you will have a choice. A good attorney is important. Take your time.
Third, call them up. Get information from more than one attorney. Here are some questions you might wish to ask before you hire someone.
- How much do you charge? The DCS will offer any attorney up to $1500 as a non-recurring adoption expense (NRAE) to represent you. Some attorneys are willing to accept the $1500 as the full fee for a simple uncontested adoption.
- What experience do you have with adoption or allegations or whatever my problem is? Have you handled cases like mine before?
- What special subsidies are available for me as an adoptive parent? And what do I need to do to obtain them? The subsidies include continuing monthly payments, health insurance, a federal income tax credit, one-time adoption expenses, college scholarships, and a variety of local ones.
- And finally, how available will you be to me personally if I have questions during the process?
Don’t be shy. Having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney you can afford is very important. Ask away. Straightforward answers to these questions will allow you to compare the answers and make an informed choice.