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An Attorney’s Role in Representing a Birthmother
My role in representing a birthmother is two-fold. First, I make sure the birthmother understands all the legal aspects of an adoption and that she understands that she is permanently surrendering all her rights as a parent. I make sure no one is pressuring her or no one is threatening her. I make sure she understands the process so there is no chance of fraud, duress or coercion - the only factors that could be used to challenge the surrender. I explain the meaning and significance of each document that she is asked to sign. I talk with her about birthfather issues and the putative father registry.
I try to determine if there is a risk from a putative father for disruption. I make sure she is neither requesting nor accepting funds from the potential adopting parents that would be beyond the limit of the law. Second, I explain that I am her advocate. If she wants to proceed with the adoption I make sure all elements of the adoption are being carried out correctly, but if at any time up to the signing of the surrender, she changes her mind, I stop the process on her behalf. While she is at the hospital I am available to speak with the social workers or healthcare staff if she is not being treated properly (unfortunately there are times that some staff members can be very insensitive). I encourage birthmothers to seek counseling both during the pregnancy and after delivery. I like to meet with a birthmother at least once prior to the surrender and I attend the surrender with her. I give a birthmother my office, cell and home phone and let her know that I am always available to answer her questions about the adoption plan.