Adoption Attorney

Starting (or expanding) a family is a very exciting time for parents-to-be and this is no less true when building your family through adoption. Leigh A. Kretzschmar, as an adoptive parent herself, understands that this is a uniquely happy time, though one that might be also come with some amount of personal struggle. Leigh A. Kretzschmar understands that there are many reasons people arrive at the choice to adopt, and her goal is to provide her clients with a combination of unique expertise, insight, knowledge and compassion during the adoption process.

Adoption can involve expanding your family to include a new child; or, to affirm an existing parent-child relationship between a child and a stepparent. Leigh A. Kretzschmar has been assisting clients with all types of adoption for over a decade.

First Steps:

When considering adoption, prospective parents (individuals and couples) need to consider what kind of adoption is best for them. Do you want to pursue:

1. Domestic adoption (an adoption involving American-born children)?

If so, you will need to consider two alternatives:

Independent adoptions are the result of an agreement for adoption between the birth parent(s) and the prospective adoptive parent(s), usually completed with the assistance of an adoption attorney. The birth parent(s) and prospective adoptive parent(s) are matched through their own resources or with the assistance of a professional adoption facilitator.

Agency adoptions involve the matching of the birth parent with the prospective adoptive parent(s) by the adoption agency or agencies licensed by a state (a non-profit adoption agency or your local County). The adoption is completed with the assistance of an attorney, sometimes available through the Agency.

Another very important consideration is the amount of contact you wish to have with the birth parent(s) before and after the child’s birth. This contact falls into three categories:

Open adoption. Adoptive parents and birth parents speak to, and occasionally meet, prior to and after the child’s birth and placement of the child for adoption. This adoption is preferred by adoptive parents who would like their child to have the option of knowing his or her birth parents throughout the child’s life. The birth parent(s) must also agree to this type of adoption.
Semi-open adoption. Adoptive parents and birth parents have identifying and contact information about each other; and, may have communication via a third party (an agency or attorney), prior to and after the child’s birth and placement of the child with the prospective adoptive parents.

Closed adoption. Traditionally, this is when the identity and location of the adoptive parents and the birth parents remain confidential, with no contact prior to or after the placement of the child. This type of arrangement occurs mostly through adoptions handled by your local County.

2. International Adoption?

This requires at least one agency in the United States and an agency or other approved contact (lawyer, orphanage, agency) in the foreign country from which you are adopting. These adoptions require that the foreign country approve of the adopting couple, including consideration of their ages, health, incomes, employment and other factors.

Choosing from the above types of adoption is somewhat affected by your preferences about your new child. Making the right decision for your family means asking yourself some specific questions.

  • What age of child do you wish to adopt? Do you want an infant? A toddler? A five or ten year old child? Not all prospective parents are willing or able to deal with early morning feedings and the childcare required for an infant. Other parents are excited at the opportunity. You may wish to consider many issues like lifestyle (do you frequently travel?), finances, career development, and your choice of recreational activities.
  • Are you willing to adopt a child with special needs? Again, it is important to consider your lifestyle, as well as your support system and resources.
  • Are you willing to adopt a child of a different ethnicity? Are you already part of a diverse family? How comfortable are you in addressing the cultural and ethnic needs of a child whose background is different from that of yours, your spouse or partner, and your family? There is no politically correct answer to these questions because you are forming your family. The most important issue is that you are comfortable with your decision.
  • Are you comfortable traveling to a foreign country to pick up your child? Some countries require one trip to pick up your child. Other countries require two trips. Many have requirements that one parent remain in country for a number of weeks. It is important to evaluate whether your family can accommodate the requirements of your chosen country.
  • What is your financial situation? Adoption costs can fall anywhere on a spectrum of free or very low, to very costly. For instance, if you choose to adopt through your county’s foster care/adoption system, costs will be minimal. However, if you are primarily interested in an infant, you may find that regardless of the type of adoption, locating a birth mother is more difficult, more expensive and takes longer than adopting an older child. Often, the prospective parents advertise (locally and in other states), or are in contact with friends or relatives who know a birth mother. It is important to realistically assess what your family is able to comfortably afford.

Leigh A. Kretzschmar knows that making this decision can be a daunting process. Considering these questions before you meet with her will help guide her work with you to arrive at your decision about what type of adoption is best suited to your family.

3.  The Independent Adoption Process in California

Once a birth mother is matched with the prospective adoptive parent(s), everyone must closely follow all adoption process requirements. California adoption laws are designed to help ensure that the birth parent’s agreement to place a child for adoption is made under sound circumstances. These laws require that the birth mother be advised of her rights as a birth parent before she consents to place her child for adoption. After the baby’s birth, the birth mother signs an agreement to place her child with the prospective adoptive parents.  California allows the birth mother to change her mind, no questions asked, within 30 days.

These laws also benefit adoptive parents because after the 30-day period, the birth mother’s placement agreement becomes an irrevocable consent to adoption. If the birth mother changes her mind after 30 days, she must ask the court for permission to withdraw her consent. In other words, California law is designed to ensure that the best decision about adoption is made at the beginning of the child’s life, not later.

What Leigh A. Kretzschmar Can Do For You

Because of her experience in independent adoptions in San Diego for nearly 20 years, Leigh A. Kretzschmar is uniquely situated to assist prospective parents through every step of the adoption process, tailoring her approach to their individual needs. Leigh A. Kretzschmar understands how difficult and trying this transition can be for a family, and is therefore readily available by telephone to prospective parents at no additional charge throughout the adoption process. In addition, she works especially hard with the birth parent(s) to learn why they’re choosing to make an adoption plan and why the decision is the best one for them and the child. Structuring each family’s adoption process under these parameters encourages a constant flow of communication between all concerned.

Contact Leigh A. Kretzschmar by calling (619) 231-9323 or completing the Contact Form.

In-person Appointments:  clients located within in San Diego, CA, La Mesa,CA, National City, CA, Chula Vista, CA, El Cajon, CA, Tierrasanta, CA, Santee, CA, Ramona, CA and surrounding areas.

Telephone appointments:  clients outside of the County of San Diego, California.