April 2012 Archives

Indiana teacher claims she was fired for undergoing infertility treatments

April 30, 2012

An Indiana woman is claiming she was fired from her Catholic school teaching job for ungergoing in vitro fertilization treatments.  The woman is now suing the diocese  in what could be  a legal showdown over reproductive and religious rights.

Emily Herx's lawsuit accuses the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and St. Vincent de Paul school in Fort Wayne of discrimination for her terminating her last June. Herx says that the church pastor told her she was a "grave, immoral sinner" and that she should have kept quiet about her fertility treatments because some things are "better left between the individual and God," the complaint said.   The diocese responded  saying it "views the core issue raised in this lawsuit as a challenge to the diocese's right, as a religious employer, to make religious based decisions consistent with its religious standards on an impartial basis."  The Catholic church is against any type of infertility treatments.  In fact, when Herx appealed the termination decision to Fort Wayne Bishop Kevin Rhoades, he told her IVF was “an intrinsic evil, which means that no circumstances can justify it.”

We've posted previously (HERE) about the possibility of discrimination against children conceived via Assisted Reproductive Technology.  Is seems that this now is extending to the potential parents as well.  It will be interesting to follow the case to see what the future holds for Reproductive Rights.

Photo of the week

April 27, 2012

Picture of the week. One of these kids was born using Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and one was not.  The chicken or the spider?

Giuliana and Bill Rancic expecting through a gestational surrogate

April 23, 2012

You may have heard about Giulana and Bill Rancic's plight to have a baby.  Giuliana, who co-hosts "Fashion Police" on E! and who shares a reality show with Bill ("Giuliana & Bill" on Style Network), has publicly shared the couple's infertility struggles and then her subsequent breast cancer diagnosis on television.  They announced on the TODAY show this morning that they are having a baby through a gestational surrogate.

The couple had struggled to get pregnant prior to her cancer diagnosis and had two frozen embryos as their last hope.  Due to the cancer fighting drugs Giuliana has taken, she would have to wait years to carry a child.  They chose surrogacy and now have a baby on the way.

You can read more about their interview here:  http://todayentertainment.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/23/11348819-giuliana-and-bill-rancic-were-having-a-baby

Child Custody and Summer Visitation

April 23, 2012

As the school year comes to an end, parents are scheduling camps, vacations and other activities for their children.  Of course, this also means that the summer visitation requirements must be addressed for divorced families.  Family law attorney, Lanae Harden, gives tips on how to ensure a smooth summer for both the parents and children involved.

  1. If you don’t have a detailed parenting visitation schedule, create one.  This may be difficult for former spouses to come to an agreement.  If you are unable to come up with a mutually agreeable schedule, consult a professional to aid with this.  The more detailed your agreement is, the less room for interpretation, therefore less conflict.

  2. Recognize the emotional impact this may have on the children.   A significant change in schedule can bring up emotions for the children.  This could be positive or negative emotions, but usually a mixture of both.  Children thrive on routine, and summer visitation schedules usually vary significantly from the routines that the children became accustomed to during the school year.  Depending on the ages of the children, explain to them the exact schedule and where they will be at any given time.  Create a calendar with color coded days signifying when they will be at mom’s house and when they will be at dad’s house.

  3. Plan accordingly.  This may include scheduling time off work or altering your work schedule when the children are visiting.  Plan appropriate summer-time activities.  If you are the non-custodial parent, this may also include arranging for care (nanny, babysitter etc.).  If possible, utilize their same care provider at both homes for consistency.  This

  4. Be supportive if your child misses the other parent.  Don’t take this personally or assume this means the child loves the other parent more than you.  Look for ways to calm your child and allow them to speak frequently with their other parent.  This will only help build your bond with your child.

The best interest of the child is always the most important thing to keep in mind.  Both parents should communicate and cooperate to make sure  reasonable visitation time is met and the child feels safe and secure.  If you need assistance with determining child visitation or custody, contact HARDEN JACKSON at 317-569-0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

Harden Jackson attorney, Michele Jackson featured in New York Times

April 18, 2012

Harden Jackson attorney, Michele Jackson was recently featured in a New York Times article regarding moms who travel for work. Michele was honored to have been selected to offer her insight for the article.  You can read a copy of the article below or link to it here: NY Times article featuring Michele Jackson

New York Times Article:

Amy Kossoff Smith, the founder of a parenting Web site, has a ritual when she has to go on the road. She leaves a printed itinerary of all the carpools, sports practices and games, baby-sitter hours and anything else her husband might need.

Michele L. Jackson, a lawyer in Indiana who travels for her international adoption work, said she leaves files back home for each of her children with information on their activities and their medical records. She said she also texts instructions from the road, adding that she is “sure to include some sweetness” for her husband in the note “so he doesn’t feel like an employee.”

Peace of mind for working mothers who have to travel comes in all sorts of forms. While working fathers who go away on business may use some of the same tactics, mothers are often the ones laying out their children’s skating outfits and freezing extra dinners before they leave town.

Ms. Smith, whose Web site is called MomTini Lounge, said children thrive on routine and structure, “so moms who travel try to minimize the disruption at home.” She said she jettisons any unnecessary commitments like play dates to streamline the family schedule as much as possible while she is away.

Single parents can find travel even more challenging because they have to hand over care of the children to a sitter, friend or relative. This is especially tough, Ms. Smith said, if those caregivers are not as familiar with the family routines. “Juggling these things might be second nature to Mom, but for the person who doesn’t do it all the time, it can feel overwhelming,” she said. She recommended making a list or sharing an electronic calendar.

Some working mothers said they also have doctor, emergency, school and neighbor contact lists. Others said they set up grocery delivery services and order drug store supplies online.

Technology helps, too, once parents are on the road. Ms. Smith suggested that parents follow their children’s lead in deciding whether to text, e-mail or go to Facebook. “If the kids communicate via text, then working parents do, too,” she said. “And every PC and smartphone is now a video conference device.”

Phaedra Cucina, the author of the picture book “My Mommy’s on a Business Trip” (DolceVita Woman, 2008), said mothers can show younger children their hotel room using Skype. “It’s comforting for a young child to see mommy in her hotel room waving and making silly faces,” Ms. Cucina said. Older children might prefer sharing the city sights with their mother via an iPhone pointed out the window of a taxi.

But while traveling parents may be tempted by the technology to check in often, Ms. Smith said they should not try to run their households from the road. “It’s time to focus on business, not making sure your son’s homework is done,” she said. “It can be a nice break for everyone.”

Ms. Smith also said parents should manage their family’s expectations before leaving. “Things may not run as smoothly,” she said. She said she advises parents to include children as part of a team, to get things done while a parent is on the road. “Sometimes parents come home from a trip and discover their children do know how to load a dishwasher or clean their own clothes,” she said.

Leaving a meal plan is another way for some traveling mothers to keep the home running smoothly, said Lauren Fix, an automotive expert and former racecar driver who traveled over the years for speaking engagements and automotive shows. She said she used to store premade meals in the freezer and refrigerator for her children and husband. Sometimes, she said, she would leave homemade cookies as a surprise or a pot of soup or chili that could last for a few meals.

As her children got older, she said, she taught them basic, and then more advanced, cooking skills so they could make their own omelets, rice, pasta, barbecued chicken and paninis. She asked them to do their own laundry and to leave the house “clean but not spotless.”

And while it took some nagging at the time, Ms. Fix said, now that one child is in college and the other will be soon, “it turns out that cooking, cleaning and doing laundry are skills their classmates don’t all have,” she said. Other students are “always asking my daughter how to get a stain out, or how to cook something.”

Laura Kastner, a psychologist and co-author of books on family issues in Seattle, said a family’s ability to function well with a traveling mother is also linked to its members’ attitudes. “When Mom loves her work, Dad is happy to contribute and feels appreciated, and the kids can adapt well to changes in routines, all should go smoothly,” she said. Parents who treat business travel as just another facet of life that needs to be managed “usually do just fine,” according to Dr. Kastner.

Problems arise, Dr. Kastner said, when parents feel ambivalent or resentful. “If Mom talks about feeling guilty, or Dad starts sniping about the extra load he is carrying, it can set off some bad dynamics,” she said, adding that she advises parents to approach travel with “resourcefulness and optimism.”

Some children are better equipped to handle things emotionally when a mother is away, Dr. Kastner said. “Kids who are resilient, can handle change and some adversity, and aren’t very emotionally volatile will go with the flow, “ she said.

Parents need to tend to emotional issues also, and younger children can be especially upset when parents travel, Ms. Cucina said. She suggested that the caregiver plan a special event like a pizza night while a parent is away so the child will have something to look forward to.

Some families prepare a calendar showing when the mother will be away, display a map or take the children to the airport to say goodbye. “These little touches make younger children feel a part of what’s going on,” Ms. Cucina said, and give mothers the chance to reassure the children that they will “be back home soon.”

Advocacy Day – A Day to make an impact on Infertility Awareness

April 13, 2012

Have you heard about the Family Act ( S 965/HR 3522) that is before Congress this session?  This bill was introduced in Congress in May of 2011 and if passed, will create a tax credit for the out-of-pocket costs associated with infertility medical treatment.  As you can imagine, this bill could have a major impact for intended parents and may help them overcome some of the financial barriers associated with Infertility.

Infertility groups across the nation have rallied support for this bill.  RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association is taking that a step further.  RESOLVE is sponsoring Advocacy Day on April 25th, 2012 in Washington D.C.   Participants will spend the day talking to Members of Congress about the disease of Infertility.  The message from RESOLVE is that,  “Congress can help make a difference in the lives of patients battling infertility by making vital medical treatment options more accessible, and strengthening the federal commitment to research that will lead to prevention of and treatments for infertility.”

Once registered, the organization will make appointments with the participants’ Congress person, and then provide training and materials for participants to make the most of their meeting.  Participants will also be paired with other advocates from their state or RESOLVE staff members at these meetings to ensure effective communication of their message.

If you are interested in attending Advocacy day, you may find more information at: http://familybuilding.resolve.org/site/PageServer?pagename=advday_home

Fertility and Family Building Fair

April 6, 2012

Have you heard about the ICFI Fertility and Family Building Fair on April 24th?  Attorney Michele Jackson will be speaking about foster parenting and adoption.

The Fertility and Family Building Fair is the concentrated effort to bring as many local resources together as possible for those working to build their families.  The event will feature local REs and physicians, complementary and alternative medicine practitioners, financial assistance resources, fostering and adoption resources, local organizations dedicated to assisting those on their journey, and five educational presentations .  The event is free to the community and takes place during National Infertility Week.

How Long Does a Divorce Take?

April 4, 2012

Lanae Harden, a Carmel Indiana divorce lawyer, answers a common question about the length of time the divorce process takes.