Legal Issues in Adoption
Since adoption is a process by which a child becomes a permanent legal member of your family just as if they had been born into the family, an attorney is needed to file the required legal pleadings with the court to complete this process. For any adoption, you need the social work services (the home study, birthparent counseling, emotional support, adoptive placement for agency placements, and post placement services) that Adoption Assistance Agency can provide and an attorney for the legal services. You can think of it as a relay race where a portion of the race is run by each part of the team.
At Adoption Assistance Agency, we do not have an attorney on staff, nor do we force you to work with a particular attorney. This is an additional protection for your adoption. You are free to choose the attorney you wish to work with, although we do seek to give you guidance in this area. We provide you with an attorney referral list that has the names and contact information of attorneys that we have worked with in many adoptions and that we know and trust to help you in this process. No matter who you decide to work with, however, it is crucial that the attorney you choose to hire knows New Mexico adoption law and the agency adoption process well. Please keep this in mind as you choose the attorney who will help bring your adoption to finalization. You may wish to call a few attorneys prior to placement of your child just to compare fees and choose a good fit. Please find our current referral list below.
Your birthparent/s will also receive the services of a different attorney to advise them of their legal rights and to help insure that they understand the legal ramifications of their choice to relinquish their parental rights and consent to the adoption of their child. Though the cost of these legal services is passed along to you as the adoptive parents, it is a wise investment in the stability and security of your adoption.
The vast majority of infant adoptive placements in New Mexico fit in the category of a “risk placement”. This is the legal name for the adoptive placement of a child for whom there are intact birthparent rights. No one will force you to take a “risk placement” but most adoptive families recognize that adoption brings with it some risks. Think about it this way, the birthmother and baby will typically be released from the hospital between 24 and 48 hours after the birth, about 72 hours for a C-section. Birthparents in New Mexico may not relinquish their parental rights in court until a minimum of 48 hours after the birth. If the baby is getting out of the hospital and the birthparents have not been to court, the baby has to go somewhere. The baby could go home with the birthmother to await her going to court, but few people involved in the adoption think that is the best alternative. The baby could go to Cuddle Care (and does on occasion) but most birthmothers are uncomfortable with this since they have chosen you to care for and parent the baby. For the baby it is not best because the baby begins to bond with the Cuddle Care parents rather than you. For these reasons most adoptive parents are willing to take a risk placement of the baby while the legal processes for birthparents rights are implemented. Also consider this; there are many situations where the birthfather cannot be located (for a variety of reasons). New Mexico has excellent laws for fully addressing his rights so that a stable adoption may occur. However, the legal processes take time and could delay your bringing your baby home and bonding with him or her for a few months. The overwhelming majority of our adoptions are done as risk placements and it works out over and over again.
Santa Fe, NM 87501