Independent Adoptions and Not So Happy Endings

Once upon a time there was a couple who were married after they had gone to school for a really long time. They were smart and good looking and successful. They would live happily ever after. They would have a family, live in a nice house, adopt some dogs, contribute to the world with the research that they do in lieu of big-dollar salaries, and generally live responsible, rewarding lives while helping others.

Life would be good to them because they did all the right things.

Everything worked out pretty much that way except the babies didn’t come, so the couple thought they would adopt a child, as they very much wanted a family, to care for a baby and make a difference in that child’s life. They decided to try an independent adoption.

The difference between independent and agency adoption is the method by which the birthparents give their consent to adoption. In an agency adoption, the birthparents relinquish their parental rights to an agency, and the agency, in turn, consents to an adoption by specific adoptive parents. In independent adoption, the birthparents give their consent directly to the adoptive parents. In a private or independent adoption, prospective adoptive parents are advised by an adoption attorney.

Since independent adoptions are specifically authorized by law in most states, broadening the search for a child will ensure a better match, or a quicker resolution (or both) so most people opt to search in all states where it is legal to do so. The state the couple lives in is one in which independent adoptions are legal, and so they contacted a lawyer who was supposedly the “best adoption lawyer” in their state.

Enter Lawyer #1:

The couple’s first attempt at adoption failed because the birth mother changed her mind at the last minute. It is not clear why she did this, it may have been racially motivated (the baby was not the same race as the adoptive parents) or it may have been a case of mother love, a last minute remorse, the I-just-can’t-do-it response. This is completely understandable, even though one would have hoped such emotions might have emerged just a bit sooner for everyone’s sake.

The second adoption seemed like it was a perfect match. The birth mother wanted the couple to raise her baby, she picked the couple specifically. Everything was going along smoothly, communication via phone and email, and arrangements were made, that the couple would arrive at the hospital at the appointed time for a C-section delivery and they would be given custody of the child. The birth mother lived in another state.

Enter Lawyer #2:

Everyone knows we couldn’t possibly have just one lawyer involved. That would be too simple. No, of course not, we need another lawyer who knows all about the “state regulations” in that particular state, the state where the birth mother lived.

Here’s the part that didn’t end well. The not so happily ever after part. The excited couple got on a plane and flew to the birth mother’s state in order to be there in time for the C-section, all set to live there for one week, as that state’s laws require. They had all the baby paraphernalia, the car seat, the clothes, the wipes, everything they’d need for the baby’s first week. They got to the hospital, only to be told that the mother had had the C-section three days earlier, had checked herself out and taken the baby with her and no one had a clue where she was. For the couple, it probably felt like a death to them. They were devastated, and dejected, and had lost hope.

I see two problems with this.

  1. Lawyer #1
  2. Lawyer #2

The couple paid the “best adoption lawyer”, Lawyer #1, quite a bit of money to represent them. The fee is, of course, non-refundable. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars here, which is not chump change to the couple, since they are not Working for da’ Man, as many in their field do, but are making smaller salaries so they can do research in their chosen fields in order to make a difference (aka help people). Bottom line, the money is a big consideration and they had to borrow it in order to go ahead with the process.

Why wasn’t Lawyer #1 on top of this situation? I use the generic “he” here. He’s the one who recommended Lawyer #2, and so he should have been working with Lawyer #2 on behalf of the couple. He should have made sure that everything was on track to go forward, but of course he didn’t do that. No, he was real good at collecting that fee, but not so good on following through.

It gets worse.

Lawyer #2 failed even more miserably. He collected his fee too, and he was to meet with the birth mother at least one time. He failed to do this. Either she didn’t show up or he didn’t contact her to come in for a meeting. Either way, Lawyer #2 – you suck. So he collected a bunch of money and did not add much value. Make that none. Nada. Zilch.

I can’t even figure out which lawyer is worse. They both got paid a fee for not doing a job.

The couple can still go forward with a third attempt. They’ve paid the fee for Lawyer #1 so he will still be around to “help” the couple. What does this lawyer do exactly? Cross his fingers and hope for the best? How about checking up on Lawyer #2 (you know there has to be one in nearly every case)? How about making sure Lawyer #2 is doing what he’s supposed to do? And Lawyer #2? How about getting off your ass and setting up the meetings you are required to conduct? Lawyer #1, how about asking Lawyer #2 if that meeting ever took place?

It’s easy to blame the birth mother here. She received a few bucks for her care, maybe $1200 or so. She didn’t make any money off this deal, unless just getting medical care was her motivation in the first place. “I’ll pretend I’m going to give my baby up for adoption so I can get it paid for, then I’ll just take off. Let them come after me. So sue me. Good luck with that.”

But really, it’s the lawyers in this case. The ambulance chasers of the adoption industry. They aren’t paying attention, they aren’t doing their jobs. They put in a few years of hard work, gain a reputation as being the “best” in some area of law, then put their feet up and relax for thirty years.

While searching for illustrations for this posts, I came upon a joke:

99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

It’s not that bad of course, but just watch your local TV ads, all those guys who want to “help” you when you’re in an accident, or when you’ve been exposed to asbestos, or when you’ve been prescribed a drug that they now find will kill you. They don’t want to help you, they want your money. We can pretty much forget about finding the John Grisham lawyers, the Atticus Finch’s or the Matlocks. And when you do find one of these, you won’t find him advertising on TV.

Lawyer #1 and Lawyer #2 are in the “I’m Here to Help” (big eye roll here) category. They pretend to care, but they don’t. They are in it for the fees. Those huge sums that people will pay, when they are desperate to start a family.

These (the couple) are good people who want to raise a child. A child who would have had everything he could ever want or need. Two parents who love him, and a stable home, and given every opportunity to succeed.

It’s just too bad that crappy things have to happen to good people, who just want what everyone else wants, a family.

And too bad there are lawyers out there who will take advantage of that.


4 thoughts on “Independent Adoptions and Not So Happy Endings

  1. Wow, Our adoption story was nothing like this one. Our lawyer was all you could ask for: helpful, compassionate and completely reasonable in her fees. We had a very positive experience. We did have a birth-mother-changing-her-mind situation, but that is not uncommon. It was not our attorney’s fault.

    If this story is real, I hope they eventually succeed.

  2. Bravo!! Any way you could send this to the two legal eagles, both of whom are one of the multitude of reasons people can’t rent guns??

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