We try to do adoption-related work on a flat-fee (or modified flat-fee) basis whenever possible. We gather information about the case at the beginning and, based on past experience, estimate about how much time and effort it is likely to entail. Then we take a deep breath and commit ourselves to a total fee. We collect the fee and a cost deposit, put them into our trust account, and pay ourselves portions of the fee as we hit agreed-upon milestones (such as the beginning of representation, the filing of the petition, the signing of certain documents, the conclusion of various hearings, etc.) If at some point the client decides to stop moving forward, any unearned fees and the unused portion of the cost deposit are returned to the client. There have been rare occasions when we have needed to add additional fees (for entirely unforeseen, significant, out-of-the-ordinary developments), but that is not at all the norm.
We prefer this approach for several reasons. It gives all of us financial predictability. It fosters much better relationships with our clients. They can call us any time with their questions or concerns and they don't need to worry that "the meter's running," which also increases the likelihood that they will take the time to listen to us. It gets financial issues out of the way at the beginning, and then we are all just on the same team working through the process together. And if frees us from needing to track our time. We like doing adoption work. We don't like tracking time.
Although every situation is unique, our fees for handling adoptions on this basis over the past several years have typically been in the following ranges:
Independent Adoption - $4,000 - $10,000
Stepparent Adoption - $2,100 - $4,000
Finalization of DCYF Adoption - $750 - $1,100
International Readoption - $750 - 1,000
International Finalization - $1,000 - $1,500
Adult Adoption - $750 - $1,000