Results tagged “adoption” from Indiana Family Lawyer Blog

Indiana's Third Information & Awareness Adoption Fair

November 18, 2014

Attorney Michele Jackson, who serves on the Governor's Adoption Committee, is among other Adoption professionals, adoptive parents and adoptees who attended Indiana's Third Information and Awareness Adoption Fair. The fair provided education and celebration for adoption.

Here is Michele's son, Thaxton, with Governor Pence.
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Here are more moments from the Fair:

Third Adoption Fair Pence 2014 .pdf

MICHELE JACKSON NAMED FINALIST FOR INDY'S BEST AND BRIGHTEST AWARD

September 19, 2014

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for MLJ WEB.jpgFor the second year in a row, attorney Michele Jackson has been selected as a finalist for the annual Indy's Best and Brightest award ceremony created by Junior Achievement. The event will honor 100 of central Indiana's most outstanding young professionals, age 40 and under, in 10 different industries.

The Best and Brightest event was created by Junior Achievement to recognize up and coming talent and the next generation of leaders in our community. Finalists in each category are judged on professional accomplishments, civic contributions, character and leadership qualities. The finalists to be honored at the event are listed below, as well as the website, www.indysbestandbrightest.org.

Michele Jackson chairs the firm's Adoption and Reproductive Law Practice Group and focuses her practice in domestic and international adoptions as well as reproductive law matters. Jackson is also the founder of MLJ Adoptions, Inc.
In addition to her professional contributions, Jackson also founded the Global Orphan Foundation (formerly the Fatherless Foundation), a not-for-profit organization which raises funds and provides supplies to orphanages world-wide.

Harden Jackson, LLC is a Carmel law firm providing personalized service with a responsive and compassionate approach. As effective and experienced litigators, the attorneys work with clients to develop strategies for negotiating settlements, while always preparing for litigation if necessary. The practice assists clients in all areas of family law, adoption and reproductive law matters. For more information, please contact Leah Potter at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com

Embryo donation and Indiana law

August 26, 2014

embryo.jpgHave you ever wondered what happens to frozen embryos that go unused after a woman undergoes in vitro fertilization (IVF) and achieves a successful pregnancy? People with leftover embryos have various options: keeping the embryos frozen, destroying them, allowing them to be used for scientific research, and donating them. Embryo donation is on the rise as a means of conceiving a child to parents who are unable to naturally do so. This process enables a woman to donate her unused embryos to a clinic so another woman can have a child. Embryo donations usually occur anonymously, and require no contact between the donor and the recipient. However, a few clinics exist that encourage communication between the donor and recipient families, giving donors a say in choosing their embryo recipients.

The topic of embryo donation has been surrounded by controversy in recent years, specifically when the Bush Administration funded Nightlife Christian Adoptions' Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. The term "embryo adoption" was scrutinized by the assisted reproductive technology community. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)'s Ethics Committee released a report stating that "adoption" refers to "a specific legal procedure that establishes or transfers parentage of existing children." ASRM's report concluded that the use of the term adoption in conjunction with embryos was "inaccurate, misleading, and could place burdens upon infertile recipients and should be avoided," because it equates embryos to the status of children. Therefore, "embryo donation" is the preferred term among the assisted reproductive technology community.

Similar to adoption, embryo donation recipients must undergo a screening process involving an application and a home study. However, unlike adoption, the donation does not need to be finalized in court. Under Indiana law, the woman who gives birth is considered the legal mother and the man she is married to is the legal father. Indiana law is favorable towards embryo donation, and will likely continue to evolve as this practice becomes more common. Although embryo donation does not require court approval, it is important for persons undergoing IVF to include the disposition of any unused embryos in their will. This ensures that those who want to donate their frozen embryos will have their wishes fulfilled in the event of their deaths, and will avoid situations such as this one "What happens to your frozen embryos?"

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact Leah Potter at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

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

photo credit: John P Clare via photopin cc

Michele L. Jackson to Serve on Governor's Adoption Committee

July 25, 2014

Thumbnail image for MLJ WEB.jpgMichele L. Jackson, founding partner of Harden Jackson, LLC, and Chair of the firm's Adoption and Reproductive Law Practice Group, was appointed to the Indiana Governor's Adoption Committee on July 21, 2014. Michele, who is also the CEO and founder of MLJ Adoptions, will be serving on the committee alongside eight other Indiana adoption professionals.
The Indiana Governor's Adoption Committee was formed after Governor Pence enacted House Enrolled Act 1222 (HEA 1222) earlier this year. HEA 1222 also established Indiana's first adoption tax credit. The committee's responsibilities include studying other states' partnerships with private, faith-based, and community organizations to provide services through the states' public adoption programs, making recommendations to improve of Indiana's adoption programs, and reporting the findings and recommendations to Governor Mike Pence and the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Michele was heavily involved with the Act throughout the legislative process, and had the privilege to testify before the Indiana House Family, Children, and Human Affairs committee in support of the Act. Her testimony included information about the individual and communal benefits of expanding and improving adoption in the State of Indiana, as well as the life-changing impact of adoption. Michele also emphasized that lack of financial resources may dissuade families from pursuing adoption. Michele was honored to attend the ceremonial signing of HEA 1222 alongside adoptive families and other adoption advocates, who were there to witness the culmination of their hard work.
Michele firmly believes that all children are entitled to a family as a fundamental and human right, and has devoted her career to removing the barriers to adoption. She is humbled and grateful for the opportunity to contribute her experience as an adoptive mother and adoption professional throughout her service on the Indiana Governor's Adoption Committee

National Infertility Awareness Week - RESOLVE to know more

April 22, 2014


National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW) is a movement that began in 1989. The goal of NIAW is to raise awareness about the disease of infertility and encourage the public to understand their reproductive health.
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association founded this movement and continues to work with the professional family building community, corporate partners, and the media to:


  • ensure that people trying to conceive know the guidelines for seeing a specialist when they are trying to conceive.

  • enhance public understanding that infertility is a disease that needs and deserves attention.

  • educate legislators about the disease of infertility and how it impacts people in their state.


In 2010 National Infertility Awareness Week became a federally recognized health observance by the Department of Health and Human Services.This year RESOLVE is urging the infertility community to spread the message "Resolve to know more." Resolve to know more about all your family building options.

RESOLVE's Infertility Etiquette

Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility. More than seven million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. Yet, as a society, we are woefully uninformed about how to best provide emotional support for our loved ones during this painful time.

Infertility is, indeed, a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. When a loved one dies, he isn't coming back. There is no hope that he will come back from the dead. You must work through the stages of grief, accept that you will never see this person again, and move on with your life.

The grief of infertility is not so cut and dry. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know. They grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple anew. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal.

As the couple moves into infertility treatments, the pain increases while the bank account depletes. The tests are invasive and embarrassing to both parties, and you feel like the doctor has taken over your bedroom. And for all of this discomfort, you pay a lot of money.

A couple will eventually resolve the infertility problem in one of three ways:

They will eventually conceive a baby.
They will stop the infertility treatments and choose to live without children.
They will find an alternative way to parent, such as by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.
Reaching a resolution can take years, so your infertile loved ones need your emotional support during this journey. Most people don't know what to say, so they wind up saying the wrong thing, which only makes the journey so much harder for their loved ones. Knowing what not to say is half of the battle to providing support.

Don't Tell Them to Relax

Everyone knows someone who had trouble conceiving but then finally became pregnant once she "relaxed." Couples who are able to conceive after a few months of "relaxing" are not infertile. By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as "infertile" until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren't infertile but just need to "relax." Those that remain are truly infertile.

Comments such as "just relax" or "try going on a cruise" create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.

These comments can also reach the point of absurdity. As a couple, my husband and I underwent two surgeries, numerous inseminations, hormone treatments, and four years of poking and prodding by doctors. Yet, people still continued to say things like, "If you just relaxed on a cruise . . ." Infertility is a diagnosable medical problem that must be treated by a doctor, and even with treatment, many couples will NEVER successfully conceive a child. Relaxation itself does not cure medical infertility.

Don't Minimize the Problem

Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Infertile couples are surrounded by families with children. These couples watch their friends give birth to two or three children, and they watch those children grow while the couple goes home to the silence of an empty house. These couples see all of the joy that a child brings into someone's life, and they feel the emptiness of not being able to experience the same joy.

Comments like, "Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.," do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn't tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father's Day or Mother's Day cards. Losing that one obligation doesn't even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child.

Don't Say There Are Worse Things That Could Happen

Along the same lines, don't tell your friend that there are worse things that she could be going through. Who is the final authority on what is the "worst" thing that could happen to someone? Is it going through a divorce? Watching a loved one die? Getting raped? Losing a job?

Different people react to different life experiences in different ways. To someone who has trained his whole life for the Olympics, the "worst" thing might be experiencing an injury the week before the event. To someone who has walked away from her career to become a stay-at-home wife for 40 years, watching her husband leave her for a younger woman might be the "worst" thing. And, to a woman whose sole goal in life has been to love and nurture a child, infertility may indeed be the "worst" thing that could happen.

People wouldn't dream of telling someone whose parent just died, "It could be worse: both of your parents could be dead." Such a comment would be considered cruel rather than comforting. In the same vein, don't tell your friend that she could be going through worse things than infertility.

Don't Say They Aren't Meant to Be Parents

One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, "Maybe God doesn't intend for you to be a mother." How incredibly insensitive to imply that I would be such a bad mother that God felt the need to divinely sterilize me. If God were in the business of divinely sterilizing women, don't you think he would prevent the pregnancies that end in abortions? Or wouldn't he sterilize the women who wind up neglecting and abusing their children? Even if you aren't religious, the "maybe it's not meant to be" comments are not comforting. Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.

Don't Ask Why They Aren't Trying IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method in which the woman harvests multiple eggs, which are then combined with the man's sperm in a petri dish. This is a method that can produce multiple births. People frequently ask, "Why don't you just try IVF?" in the same casual tone they would use to ask, "Why don't you try shopping at another store?"

Don't Be Crude

It is appalling that I even have to include this paragraph, but some of you need to hear this-Don't make crude jokes about your friend's vulnerable position. Crude comments like "I'll donate the sperm" or "Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination" are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.

Don't Complain About Your Pregnancy

This message is for pregnant women-Just being around you is painful for your infertile friends. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Unless an infertile women plans to spend her life in a cave, she has to find a way to interact with pregnant women. However, there are things you can do as her friend to make it easier.

The number one rule is DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY. I understand from my friends that, when you are pregnant, your hormones are going crazy and you experience a lot of discomfort, such as queasiness, stretch marks, and fatigue. You have every right to vent about the discomforts to any one else in your life, but don't put your infertile friend in the position of comforting you.

Your infertile friend would give anything to experience the discomforts you are enduring because those discomforts come from a baby growing inside of you. When I heard a pregnant woman complain about morning sickness, I would think, "I'd gladly throw up for nine straight months if it meant I could have a baby." When a pregnant woman would complain about her weight gain, I would think, "I would cut off my arm if I could be in your shoes."

I managed to go to baby showers and hospitals to welcome my friends' new babies, but it was hard. Without exception, it was hard. Stay sensitive to your infertile friend's emotions, and give her the leeway that she needs to be happy for you while she cries for herself. If she can't bring herself to hold your new baby, give her time. She isn't rejecting you or your new baby; she is just trying to work her way through her pain to show sincere joy for you. The fact that she is willing to endure such pain in order to celebrate your new baby with you speaks volumes about how much your friendship means to her.

Don't Treat Them Like They Are Ignorant

For some reason, some people seem to think that infertility causes a person to become unrealistic about the responsibilities of parenthood. I don't follow the logic, but several people told me that I wouldn't ache for a baby so much if I appreciated how much responsibility was involved in parenting.

Let's face it-no one can fully appreciate the responsibilities involved in parenting until they are, themselves, parents. That is true whether you successfully conceived after one month or after 10 years. The length of time you spend waiting for that baby does not factor in to your appreciation of responsibility. If anything, people who have been trying to become pregnant longer have had more time to think about those responsibilities. They have also probably been around lots of babies as their friends started their families.

Perhaps part of what fuels this perception is that infertile couples have a longer time to "dream" about what being a parent will be like. Like every other couple, we have our fantasies-my child will sleep through the night, would never have a tantrum in public, and will always eat his vegetables. Let us have our fantasies. Those fantasies are some of the few parent-to-be perks that we have-let us have them. You can give us your knowing looks when we discover the truth later.

Don't Gossip About Your Friend's Condition

Infertility treatments are very private and embarrassing, which is why many couples choose to undergo these treatments in secret. Men especially are very sensitive to letting people know about infertility testing, such as sperm counts. Gossiping about infertility is not usually done in a malicious manner. The gossipers are usually well-meaning people who are only trying to find out more about infertility so they can help their loved ones.

Regardless of why you are sharing this information with someone else, it hurts and embarrasses your friend to find out that Madge the bank teller knows what your husband's sperm count is and when your next period is expected. Infertility is something that should be kept as private as your friend wants to keep it. Respect your friend's privacy, and don't share any information that your friend hasn't authorized.

Don't Push Adoption (Yet)

Adoption is a wonderful way for infertile people to become parents. (As an adoptive parent, I can fully vouch for this!!) However, the couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption decision. Before they can make the decision to love a "stranger's baby," they must first grieve the loss of that baby with Daddy's eyes and Mommy's nose. Adoption social workers recognize the importance of the grieving process. When my husband and I went for our initial adoption interview, we expected the first question to be, "Why do you want to adopt a baby?" Instead, the question was, "Have you grieved the loss of your biological child yet?" Our social worker emphasized how important it is to shut one door before you open another.

You do, indeed, need to grieve this loss before you are ready to start the adoption process. The adoption process is very long and expensive, and it is not an easy road. So, the couple needs to be very sure that they can let go of the hope of a biological child and that they can love an adopted baby. This takes time, and some couples are never able to reach this point. If your friend cannot love a baby that isn't her "own," then adoption isn't the right decision for her, and it is certainly not what is best for the baby.

Mentioning adoption in passing can be a comfort to some couples. (The only words that ever offered me comfort were from my sister, who said, "Whether through pregnancy or adoption, you will be a mother one day.") However, "pushing" the issue can frustrate your friend. So, mention the idea in passing if it seems appropriate, and then drop it. When your friend is ready to talk about adoption, she will raise the issue herself.

So, what can you say to your infertile friends? Unless you say "I am giving you this baby," there is nothing you can say that will erase their pain. So, take that pressure off of yourself. It isn't your job to erase their pain, but there is a lot you can do to lessen the load. Here are a few ideas.

Let Them Know That You Care

The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know that you care. Send them cards. Let them cry on your shoulder. If they are religious, let them know you are praying for them. Offer the same support you would offer a friend who has lost a loved one. Just knowing they can count on you to be there for them lightens the load and lets them know that they aren't going through this alone.

Remember Them on Mother's Day

With all of the activity on Mother's Day, people tend to forget about women who cannot become mothers. Mother's Day is an incredibly painful time for infertile women. You cannot get away from it-There are ads on the TV, posters at the stores, church sermons devoted to celebrating motherhood, and all of the plans for celebrating with your own mother and mother-in-law.

Mother's Day is an important celebration and one that I relish now that I am a mother. However, it was very painful while I was waiting for my baby. Remember your infertile friends on Mother's Day, and send them a card to let them know you are thinking of them. They will appreciate knowing that you haven't "forgotten" them.

Support Their Decision to Stop Treatments

No couple can endure infertility treatments forever. At some point, they will stop. This is an agonizing decision to make, and it involves even more grief. Even if the couple chooses to adopt a baby, they must still first grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes.

Once the couple has made the decision to stop treatments, support their decision. Don't encourage them to try again, and don't discourage them from adopting, if that is their choice. Once the couple has reached resolution (whether to live without children, adopt a child, or become foster parents), they can finally put that chapter of their lives behind them. Don't try to open that chapter again.

For more information on what you can do to join in the movement to support National Infertility Awareness Week, click here.

To find out more about your family building options, you can visit Harden Jackson Law here.

Facebook Leads Adopted Indiana Woman to Biological Family in 36 Hours

November 15, 2013

23962308_BG1.jpgThe process of finding biological family can be very difficult for adopted individuals. Thanks to technology, this process has become a little easier for some. An Indiana woman used Facebook to find her biological family. She posted a plea that included her birth information and in less than 2 days found members of her biological family. Read the full story from ABC News.

It all started with a simple Facebook post: "My name is Elizabeth Boys aka Betsy. I was born at St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove, IN on May 29th, 1984. I am searching for my biological mother."

Thirty-six hours later, Boys had Facebook messages from her biological brother, a cousin and an aunt. She was stunned.

Boys, 29, is the mother of a 2-year-old and lives in Indianapolis. She owns a housecleaning service called Maid in Indy.

"I've always known that I was adopted," Boys told ABCNews.com. "That was never, ever a secret."

She was adopted when she was a day old by loving parents who were high school sweethearts whose first date was a Beatles concert. They have been married for 42 years.

Boys' sister, who is two years older, was also adopted at a few days old and successfully tracked down her birth family two years ago.

"It inspired me," Boys said. "I've always wanted to find her [biological mother], but I had an awesome childhood so I was a little hesitant. I didn't want to juggle things up. There was a little part of me that was scared of the result."

When Boys recently saw a story similar to hers on a national news show, she found herself crying and knew it was time.

"All of a sudden [I realized], I'm going to use Facebook. I guarantee I can find her through Facebook," she said.

Her parents were fully supportive and her dad even told her he'd want to do the same thing if he were adopted.

Woman's Facebook Plea Finds Brother She's Missed Since Childhood

Then she got a clue from her mother that proved to be key to the search. The adoption was closed on both sides, but her mother had seen Boys' biological mother's last name on a form where it wasn't entirely whited out. It was Woods.

Boys created a Facebook page called, "Betsy's biological Journey" and kept her bio simple with her name, birth date and the hospital where she was born. She invited all her friends to see and share the page.

"Before I knew it, I had 300 likes on the page and people posting left and right, saying good luck and we're here for you," Boys said. "I was like, 'Wow, this could really happen.'"

The next day, she was receiving messages from across the country and around the world. The page now has nearly 6,000 likes and Boys hopes to continue using it to help others find their families.

Boys posted her information on Facebook at 2 p.m. last Wednesday and by Friday at 2 a.m., she had messages from her biological brother, a cousin and an aunt.

"I found her within 36 hours," she said of her biological mother. She soon found out that she has a large family. Her biological mother is the youngest of six.

Boys told her brother to call her right away and when he did they confirmed that they had found each other. They talked for two hours on the phone and agreed to meet.

By Sunday, she was standing outside a door waiting to meet her brother, Toby Hardy.

"I can't even explain it. I wasn't nervous at all. I was just so excited," she said. "When he opened the door, I just froze not because I was nervous, but because I was like, 'Lord, this is really real.' It was like I was looking at myself because he looks just like me."

Hardy grew up as an only child raised by his father and step-mother. He had intermittent contact with their birth mother throughout his life.

"I had no idea," Hardy said of his sibling. "Nobody had ever told me anything. I was excited because I always wanted a little sister."

He was just as amazed as Boys when he saw her for the first time.

Video below from local news station, WTHR:

13 WTHR Indianapolis

Indiana Court of Appeals rules in same-sex custody dispute

November 7, 2013

Thumbnail image for heart break.jpgThe Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision not to enforce an agreement between Mother and her Partner, who did not give birth to Child, that Partner would be Child's custodial parent.

During the course of their same-sex domestic partnership, N.J. (Mother) and A.C. (Partner) decided to have a child together. Mother was artificially inseminated with donor semen and gave birth to C.J. (Child), and for a time, Mother, Partner, and Child functioned as a family unit. After Child's birth, Mother, Partner, and Child lived together as a family unit for over two years, with the exception of an approximately two-month period shortly after Child's birth when Partner moved out due to difficulties in her relationship with Mother. During the time they all lived together, Mother was Child's primary caregiver and did not consistently work outside the home. Partner worked and provided financial support for the family for the majority of this time.

When Child was two years old, Mother and Partner ended their relationship. Thereafter, Partner exercised regular visitation with Child for several months, until Mother stopped all contact between Partner and Child. Partner then filed a petition seeking joint custody and visitation, which the trial court denied. After Child's birth, Mother, Partner, and Child lived together as a family unit for over two years, with the exception of an approximately two-month period shortly after Child's birth when Partner moved out due to difficulties in her relationship with Mother. During the time they all lived together, Mother was Child's primary caregiver and did not consistently work outside the home. Partner worked and provided financial support for the family for the majority of this time.

This ruling has little to do with Indiana court's stance on same-sex marriage, but demonstrates the necessity for same-sex couples to proceed with a second-parent adoption in these types of situations. Had the Partner adopted the child at birth, the Partner would have had the same standing with the court as the biological Mother. A second parent adoption in these situations can also provide many benefits:


  • Second parent adoption allows the child to have two legal guardians.

  • The child's right to maintain a continuing relationship with both parents is reserved.

  • It protects both parents by giving each a legally recognized parental status


It also should be noted that the Indiana Court of Appeals again pleads for the General Assembly to provide legislative guidance in the area of same-sex parenting issues.

Attorney Michele Jackson recognized in local business newspaper for adoption

September 24, 2013

MLJ WEB2.jpgAttorney Michele Jackson was profiled in this week's Indianapolis Business Journal. Below is the text from the article. We are so proud of Michele and the work she does to advocate for orphans around the world.

"Michele Jackson marched into an internship in 1999 hoping to deliver a swift blow to international injustices against women and children.

The 24-year-old Indiana University law student didn't realize how unpleasant the topics would be.


Her assignment at Canadian not-for-profit Human Rights Internet was to pour over legal documents and data relating to the sex trade. A lot of it involved children.

The key question she looked at was, "Why did these kids get into this situation?"

"I would have to research the whole story of a child and how they were exploited," said Jackson, now 38. "A lot of times it was because they didn't have any family. They were kids on the street, kids in orphanages, or they were in families that couldn't afford them and so they would be sold."

She concluded adoption was one of the best solutions. Kids with parents had better odds of growing into stable adults and avoiding the hardships she spent her time learning about.

That's why Jackson, a family law attorney from Indianapolis, founded MLJ Adoptions Inc. in 2008. The 52-employee agency, which operates out of a red-brick former schoolhouse in the Mass Ave neighborhood, has orchestrated about 400 adoptions in Congo, Samoa, Bulgaria, Mexico, Haiti, Nicaragua, Ukraine and Honduras.

The children were among more than 132 million estimated by UNICEF to need families. Burkina Faso in West Africa will likely be the next new office.

"I always said I would do about 40 clients a year. We just counted the other day and we have over 500," Jackson said.

"I told myself I never wanted something this big," she later said, "but I think once you get into something and you're passionate about something ... once you get into it, it becomes something you never planned."

Jackson's interest in international affairs goes back to when she was 5 and her mother began going on mission trips.

One of two children growing up, her mother would take her to do local charity work, like clearing brush and painting cabins at a camp for children with disabilities.

That, she believes, ignited her interest in social causes. The route she picked for her career was a degree in international law from IU, which she earned in 2000.

She began working in adoption that year when she took a job as an attorney at family law firm McClure McClure Davis & Henn.

In her first year at the firm, she helped all three families that adopted children from the Ukraine navigate red tape. But the international adoption climate was changing, which meant Jackson saw a need to change how she worked.

The Hague Adoption Convention, an 88-country pact on adoption standards, tightened regulations on U.S. adoptions in 2008. Among the many provisions, member countries needed to set up central adoption authorities--the Department of the State took over here--to certify adoption service providers and monitor them.

The best way to comply with the stricter regulations was to stop handling adoptions independently and set up an accredited adoption agency, Jackson decided.

National spotlight

Jackson's work has brought a national spotlight to MLJ.

The National Council for Adoption and the Joint Council on International Children's Services both featured her as a speaker earlier this year at conferences in Orlando and New York. And the Washington, D.C.-based Congressional Coalition of Adoption Institute named her an Angel in Adoption last year.

Jackson splits her time between MLJ--a for-profit enterprise from which she does not collect a salary--and Harden Jackson Law in Carmel, where she typically spends two days per week.

She juggles the two jobs with a separate not-for-profit she runs on the side, the Global Orphan Foundation. The group provides grants to adopting families and food to orphans in the Congo.

"Even knowing her as a teenager, most of us were relaxing on the weekends and watching TV or whatever teenagers do. Michele was working with her family," said Leah Potter, a longtime friend and employee at Jackson's law firm.

"She works very hard, but I think it's because she's chosen a career that is part of her passion and it fits in with her family life," Potter said. "It fits in with what she's about."

Jackson and her husband, WellPoint Inc. Chief Financial Officer Wayne DeVeydt, raise six kids ages 2 to 17. Two sons are adopted from the Congo, a daughter is from Nicaragua, and three stepdaughters are from her husband's previous marriage.

She described her schedule with two and a half words, a gritted smirk and a laugh: "It's fun."

Congo in her heart

Managing eight offices and additional employees scattered around the globe has meant a lot of travel for Jackson. Flying to a foreign country once a month became typical after she started MLJ.

As she spoke of her time in Haiti, Honduras and Bulgaria, she most lit up at mention of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

MLJ has been in the central African nation since the agency's onset.

The country is poor and war-torn, making it one of the hardest places to operate.

"I caution myself to say some of those things because I love the country so much," she said, "but the reality is there's some struggles there. It's one of the poorest countries in the world."

An estimated 5 million children in the country need families.

It was through her work at MLJ that she found her sons in the Congo. The agency handled everything, except the home study because of potential bias.

"It's hard to turn back around and not do it," she said. "It's hard to look away."

Diplomatic duties

Jackson had always envisioned starting a family by adopting children, even before she met her husband.

Following through on her dream altered her perspective on the process.

"You can understand the emotion and the unknowns" without adopting, she said. "But now you've experienced it."

Working in countries like the Congo creates a lot of obstacles and heartbreaks, she admitted.

Social and political complications are always a risk--like when rebels took control of part of eastern Congo last year and Jackson had to halt adoptions from that part of the country because children could not leave.

"You just pull all that together and all these people and different languages and different culture, and all of a sudden you have this creation that's hard to understand, hard to implement and hard to always predict and there are no guarantees," she said.

Parents wanting children of certain ages, especially infants, face long waiting lists, as do those seeking children from certain countries. That's why MLJ is not in China.

Adopting in the U.S. or foster care can be better options, Jackson said.

"I think I'm the bearer of bad news sometimes," she said. "What I will say to people is, if this is what you want to do, let me see what the right fit is for your family because there are children out there who need families."

Education matters

MLJ requires parents to take classes before adopting to make sure they're prepared to take in a child from another country. Curriculum ranges from family bonding to skin and hair care for the children.

Sympathy would occasionally get the best of Jackson. She would see prospective parents endure a years-long process that costs $20,000 to $40,000 and then often cut them slack when it came to attending their classes.

She admits that was a mistake.

"There were things that I would do that maybe I wouldn't draw such a hard line about. They could not go to their education class, and I would let them slide. I learned that I need to enforce that."

One couple who adopted through Jackson feel the classes are invaluable.

Without the classes, Holly Harrold said she and her husband, Doug, wouldn't have understood their children's cultures and what it takes to raise them.

The Frankton couple adopted a son from the U.S., a daughter from Guatemala and another daughter from the Congo, so they had to learn about the countries before bringing the children home. That included writing an essay on the Congo.

"All of our children know their birth story from the very beginning," Harrold said."

Article courtesy of Indianapolis Business Journal.

Top 10 Initial questions when considering adoption

August 6, 2013

boys.jpgAttorney Michele Jackson, who chairs the Adoption and Assisted Reproductive Technology divisions at Harden Jackson Law, lists the Top 10 quesions you need to ask when considering adoption.


  1. Was adoption a 2nd choice for your family building? If so, how are you mentally changing your prospective so that your adopted child does not feel 2nd choice. Is Adoption right for you?

  2. Do you need an adoption attorney or adoption agency? Yes, in most states a Court requires an adoption professional to be involved in a legal adoption process. For most international adoptions, the country or your state requires an international adoption agency.

  3. Can you choose the age and/or gender? Sometimes! In domestic adoption and international adoptions you can often provide an age preference (usually at least a range) for your child. In domestic adoption you often cannot choose the gender of your child but you can in an international adoption.

  4. Do you pursue domestic infant adoption, foster-to-adopt or international adoption? All have different risks, costs and challenges.

  5. Can you afford an adoption? There are various ways you can afford an adoption: sacrificial savings (you discontinue cable, movies, going out to eat), adoption grants, employer benefits, adoption tax credit and fundraising.

  6. How will your spouse, children or other family members feel about adoption? How do their feelings affect your family and the child you hope to adopt?

  7. Are you willing to adopt a child of a different ethnicity? If so, how will you be able to make this child feel welcome and loved in a family of a different ethnicity? How can you celebrate their uniqueness and heritage without embarrassing them?

  8. What responsibilities do you have in the adoption process? In general: Paperwork, home study, Court appearances, and adoption education classes.

  9. Will my adopted child love me? From personal experience, yes! I have seen hundreds of adoption journeys and I have experienced it in my own family. While your child may have questions and curiosity about their birth family, if you are a loving and good parent - just as with biological children, your adopted child will love you. Be sure to remember that curiosity and wanting to know about their biological family does not mean they don't love you.

  10. How do you get started in the adoption process? Research adoption options, choose the best option for your family and choose the best adoption professional for you.
  11. Harden Jackson Law routinely assists clients in a number of domestic and international adoption matters. We also handle step-parent and relative (i.e. grandparent) adoptions. Contact one of our Indiana adoption attorneys if you have questions about adoption.

Supreme court rules for adoptive parents

June 28, 2013

baby veronica.jpgA divided Supreme Court decided in favor of a child's adoptive parents over the claim of her birth father this week. At issue was the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law that gives tribes and relatives a say in decisions affecting children with Native American heritage. Passed in 1978 because of the high number of Indian children being removed from their homes by public and private agencies, the act gives the tribe and relatives a say in decisions affecting the child. We first reported about this story here.

Matt and Melanie Capobianco adopted the girl, but Dusten Brown, the father - a member of the Cherokee Nation whom she had never met - argued that the child's mother gave her up without his consent. The state's highest court sided with him, and she was returned to her biological father. The father challenged the Capobiancos' adoption, he said federal law favored the girl living with him and growing up learning tribal traditions
Appealing to the state Supreme Court, the Capobiancos said they had bonded with Veronica and argued that removing her was detrimental to her development. But justices sided with Brown last summer, saying in an emotional opinion that, while the Capobiancos were "ideal parents," federal law requires that custodial preference be given to the child's Native American parent.

The Supreme Court overturned the court's previous decisions. Associate Justice Samuel Alito ruled for the majority that the law's ban on breaking up Native American families cannot apply if the family didn't exist in the first place. He said the father had not supported the mother during pregnancy, agreed to give up parental rights in a text message, and changed his mind much later.
"In that situation, no Indian family is broken up," Alito said.

This brings to issue the problems with many adoptions happening around the country and the world. Many adoptive parents don't understand their rights when navigating through adoption. It also highlights the need for protections for all parties, so that the process is more secure for the child. This should include the requirement that birth parents, when known, have legal representation.

It is important for individuals and couples who are considering adopting, as well as birth parents, to work with reputable agencies and professionals throughout the adoption process.

Photo credit: Anonymous AP

HARDEN JACKSON ANNOUNCES NEW ATTORNEY

June 27, 2013

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CARMEL, IN - June 27, 2013 -Harden Jackson is pleased to announce that Amanda D. Sapp has joined the firm's Assisted Reproductive Technology and Adoption practices.


Amanda Sapp is a registered nurse and worked at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for over 7 years. In 2011, Ms. Sapp graduated with a Master of Science in Nursing. Ms. Sapp received her Juris Doctor from Indiana University's Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Indianapolis. Ms. Sapp has also been certified by the Indiana Supreme Court as a registered public policy mediator. Prior to joining Harden Jackson, Ms. Sapp worked for a law firm as a legal nurse consultant.
Her legal and medical knowledge will, no doubt, help serve clients in the ever evolving area of assisted reproductive law.

Harden Jackson, LLC is a Carmel law firm providing personalized service with a responsive and compassionate approach. As effective and experienced litigators, the attorneys work with clients to develop strategies for negotiating settlements, while always preparing for litigation if necessary. The practice assists clients in all areas of family law, adoption and reproductive law matters. For more information, please contact Leah Potter at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

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Attorney Michele Jackson speaking at National Adoption Conference

June 7, 2013

Thumbnail image for MLJ headshot.jpgPress Contact:
Leah Potter
HARDEN JACKSON LLC
11450 N. Meridian, Carmel, IN 46032
Phone: 317.569.0770
Email: lpotter@hardenjacksonlaw.com
Web site: www.hardenjacksonlaw.com

For Immediate Release

CARMEL ADOPTION ATTORNEY PRESENTING AT NATIONAL ADOPTION CONFERENCE

CARMEL, IN - June 7, 2013 - Michele Jackson, an attorney at Harden Jackson Law, is presenting on International Adoption at the 2013 National Adoption Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Ms. Jackson will be presenting to leadership and management in the adoption field on the Analysis of Risk in an International Adoption Program and Liability Management for Agencies. The presentation will focus on international adoption and evaluation of the legal and cultural risks. The presentation will outline causing factors, offer practical tips and strategies for dealing with those risks, and mitigating risks and liabilities for an agency. A thorough review of challenges and changes in international adoption and analysis of cultural and political pressures and trends will help attendees understand the process and provide insight into the risks and options for programs in international adoption.

The conference is sponsored by the National Council for Adoption (NCFA). NCFA's mission is to meet the diverse needs of children, birthparents, adopted individuals, adoptive families, and all those touched by adoption through global advocacy, education, research, legislative action, and collaboration.

Ms. Jackson is a founder of HARDEN JACKSON, LLC where she serves as Chair of the Adoption & Reproductive Law Practice Group and concentrates her law practice in adoption, assisted reproductive technology, and international family law. Her practice includes representation for adoptive parents, as well as step-parent and second parent adoptions. Additionally, Ms. Jackson represents intended parents or surrogates in gestational surrogacy arrangements and other Assisted Reproductive matters such as egg donor agreements. She is routinely sought for her knowledge and experience regarding issues in international adoptions and international family law and has extensive experience with children in the United States and orphans worldwide. Ms. Jackson has dedicated herself to the adoption of orphans worldwide, while assisting couples and individuals to realize their dreams of becoming parents. Her commitment includes traveling to countries to develop and maintain in-country contacts including agencies, attorneys and foreign authorities.

Harden Jackson, LLC is a Carmel law firm providing personalized service with a responsive and compassionate approach. As effective and experienced litigators, the attorneys work with clients to develop strategies for negotiating settlements, while always preparing for litigation if necessary. The practice assists clients in all areas of family law, adoption and reproductive law matters. For more information, please contact Harden Jackson Law

Orphans that can't be adopted - the plight of the "social orphan"

June 6, 2013

By: Michele Jackson

1350860_hand-in-hand.jpgThere are anywhere from 143,000,000 to 165,000,000 million orphans living in our world. This number is astonishing but what do these numbers represent? These numbers are developed from attempting to account for children that have one or more parent absent and the child is often living with relatives, foster parents, in orphanages or on the streets. It is unclear as to whether the "social orphan" is included in this number. I would venture to say that if the child is in an institution then they are accounted for; however, the "social orphan" is one that is difficult to quantify and has not been properly protected under the laws of many states or International conventions (Convention on the Rights of the Child, Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption).

The "social orphan" is the most common child in an orphanage. A "social orphan" is a child that has parents living that cannot or will not take care of the child but the parent's rights to the child are still intact and have not been terminated. Often these parents are working long hours in remote areas, not able to afford/feed their children or have drug/alcohol related issues that are preventing them from parenting. I am consistently asked about adopting specific children living in an orphanage and often I know that the child is likely to be a "social orphan". A "social orphan" is not adoptable in most situations. The child will likely not be adoptable because of one or more of the following reasons:

  1. Biological parents will not voluntarily terminate their rights in the child (even if they did, it is possible the child would not qualify for international adoption according to US Federal Immigration laws);
  2. The state does not have a mechanism to terminate parental rights in a situation where parents are not caring for a child;
  3. The state does not exercise their legal process to terminate parents' rights where parents are not caring for a child;
  4. While certain state agencies may be favorable to terminating parental rights in situations in which parents are not caring for a child, Courts/Judges may not favor such an action which requires their adjudication;
  5. Lack of resources to pursue legal action to terminate parents' rights; and
  6. United State Citizenship and Immigration services and Federal Immigration laws may not allow for parents to terminate their parental rights (two-parent orphans) for the purpose of adoption thus a "social orphan" may not qualify for the orphan visa (meaning the child cannot come into the US after the adoption).

From anecdotal analysis and experience, many "social orphans' are left in an orphanage their entire lives. I would estimate that 80-90% of children living in orphanages in Latin America are "social orphans" and not available for adoption. Eastern Europe has "social orphans" but has been more successful in terminating parental rights and seeking adoption for many children. Most of Africa is completely overwhelmed with their orphan crisis and lacks resources to resolve this crisis in any way. Prospective adoptive parents are continually baffled by the enormous number of orphans and inability to adopt these orphans in an efficient manner. We should not only be baffled but we should be angry! These children are worthy of a family that can care for them.

Action needed:


  • NGOs, foundations, missions, governments need to help account for orphans (including "social orphans") in countries. Know the problem and then seek resolve: provide resources, education and training for preventative measures and post abandonment resolutions.

  • Education in US and foreign countries on the need for protection of orphans, including "social orphans".

  • Resources on how to legally pursue reunification with family, termination of parents rights, domestic adoption or international adoption.

  • Change in US laws to allow for international adoption of two parent "social orphans" in non-Hague countries (which is currently prohibited if parents attempt to consent to an adoption in this scenario).


"Social orphans" may have one of the worst opportunities for a future. They are an orphan without family care, often living with substandard nutrition, medical care and education and yet they never have the opportunity for a family through domestic or international adoption. Their options: Family reunification, domestic adoption, international adoption but often their reality is life in an orphanage or on the streets with little to no help. The even starker reality is their future is filled with death by preventable diseases, suicide, prostitution and crime.

What can you do?

Contact your Congressman/women and find out what they are doing to help? How are they involved? Are they following the U.S. State Department and their efforts? What is the State Department doing when a country closes to international adoption and has hundreds of thousands of orphans?

What non-profits can you work with to assist these orphans?

Educate yourself. Dig deep into which organizations support the plight of orphans around the world. Did you know that UNICEF is not favorable to international adoption? Did you know UNICEF receives billions of dollars from US citizens, companies and government which supports an underlying anti-international adoption agenda?

Be heard - While international adoption is not the only option for these children, it is one of the options. All efforts for reunification, domestic adoption and international adoption are necessary.

At Harden Jackson, our Adoption Practice Group can assist clients in a number of domestic and international adoption matters. If you would like more information on adoption, please call Harden Jackson Law. If you would like information on helping orphans around the world, please contact the Global Orphan Foundation.

Attorney Michele Jackson speaking at Child Welfare Symposium

May 10, 2013

MLJ headshot.jpgMichele Jackson, an attorney at Harden Jackson Law, is presenting on International Adoption at the 37th Annual Child Welfare Symposium sponsored by the Joint Council on international children's services (JCICS) on May 21st, 2013.

The lightning talk is titled, Analysis of Risk in an International Adoption Program and Strategic Planning for Growth Amidst the Risk and Hague Convention. It is part of a fast-paced session for attendees to hear about different child and family-related topics from professionals in a variety of fields.

The Joint Council helps orphaned and vulnerable children live in a permanent and safe family by advocating on their behalf, marshaling the resources they need, educating those who serve them and mobilizing those who care. Joint Council and its partner organizations provided services to 2.1 million children and families in 2010.

Ms. Jackson is a founder of HARDEN JACKSON, LLC where she serves as Chair of the Adoption & Reproductive Law Practice Group and concentrates her law practice in adoption, assisted reproductive technology, and international family law. Her practice includes representation for adoptive parents, as well as step-parent and second parent adoptions. Additionally, Ms. Jackson represents intended parents or surrogates in gestational surrogacy arrangements and other Assisted Reproductive matters such as egg donor agreements. She is routinely sought for her knowledge and experience regarding issues in international adoptions and international family law and has extensive experience with children in the United States and orphans worldwide. Ms. Jackson has dedicated herself to the adoption of orphans worldwide, while assisting couples and individuals to realize their dreams of becoming parents. Her commitment includes traveling to countries to develop and maintain in-country contacts including agencies, attorneys and foreign authorities.

Harden Jackson, LLC is a Carmel law firm providing personalized service with a responsive and compassionate approach. As effective and experienced litigators, the attorneys work with clients to develop strategies for negotiating settlements, while always preparing for litigation if necessary. The practice assists clients in all areas of family law, adoption and reproductive law matters.

Attorney Michele Jackson featured in local magazine on adoption

April 30, 2013

Attorney Michele Jackson, who chairs the Adoption Practice Group of Harden Jackson Law, is featured in this month's Hamilton County Family magazine. The article is titled "The Adoption Option" and discusses the process of adoption.

Jackson is a founding member of Harden Jackson where she offers numerous legal services for domestic and international adoptions including private and agency adoptions, step-parent adoptions, second parent adoptions, and surrogacy contracts. In addition, Jackson is also the founder of MLJ Adoptions, an international adoption agency based in Indianapolis.

See below to read the article


Adoption Case Reaches the Supreme Court

April 16, 2013

It is very rare that a family law case reaches the Supreme Court. However, on Tuesday, emotions boiled over at the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices heard arguments in a case testing the meaning and reach of the Indian Child Welfare Act, known as ICWAA. This is a case that touches on the already complex process of adoption and the United States' embarrassing history of taking away Native American children from their family - this is no typical family law case.

MLJ headshot.jpgAccording to the Huffington Post, the case involves a South Carolina couple fighting for custody of their adopted daughter who, after a court battle, was returned to her biological father in Oklahoma.

At issue is the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law that gives tribes and relatives a say in decisions affecting children with Native American heritage. Passed in 1978 because of the high number of Indian children being removed from their homes by public and private agencies, the act gives the tribe and relatives a say in decisions affecting the child. In the current case, to be heard Tuesday, more than a dozen states and 23 current and former members of Congress have filed briefs supporting the law.

Matt and Melanie Capobianco adopted a baby several years ago, but the girl's father - a member of the Cherokee Nation whom she had never met - argued that the child's mother gave her up without his consent. The state's highest court sided with him, and she was returned to Oklahoma.

When Dusten Brown challenged the Capobiancos' adoption, he said federal law favored the girl living with him and growing up learning tribal traditions. A South Carolina court agreed with Brown, who took the girl - named Veronica, and now age 3 - back to Oklahoma in 2011.

Appealing to the state Supreme Court, the Capobiancos said they had bonded with Veronica and argued that removing her was detrimental to her development. But justices sided with Brown last summer, saying in an emotional opinion that, while the Capobiancos were "ideal parents," federal law requires that custodial preference be given to the child's Native American parent.

As reported by NPR, emotions were pretty raw inside the Supreme Court chamber. That's not particularly surprising, given that two of the justices -- Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas -- have adopted children.

But it was Justice Sonia Sotomayor who jumped in feet first, repeatedly cutting off the adoptive parents' lawyer, Lisa Blatt, before Blatt could answer a question.

Finally the chief justice silenced Sotomayor, saying, "Could I hear her answer, please!"

Blatt argued that Brown could not invoke ICWA to get custody of his daughter. He had "no legal rights whatsoever," she said, because he had given them up and failed to provide any financial support.

Justice Antonin Scalia disagreed, saying, "This guy is the father of the child, and they're taking the child away from him even though he wants it."

Blatt replied that the birth father, who had not had any contact with the child and provided no financial support, had "a biological link that under state law was equivalent to a sperm donor."

But "this isn't state law," countered Scalia -- it's a federal statute that uses "expansive" language to define the Indian family and to prevent its breakup.

Sotomayor took a similar view, asking, "If the choice is between a mother, a biological father or a stranger, and if the father's fit, why do you think" that the federal statute requires the child to be given to a stranger -- namely, the adoptive parents?

The only stranger here, shot back Blatt, was the birth father, "who expressly repudiated all parental rights."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg challenged Blatt's characterization, noting that the birth father said he only intended to surrender his custodial rights to the mother, not to adoptive parents, and that when he found out about the adoption, he objected.

Nonetheless, Blatt argued, Congress did not intend for ICWA to reach a situation like this one, where there was no existing Indian family with custody prior to the adoption. Applying ICWA to this adoption dispute, she said, would amount to "conscripting other people's children to grow the tribal population based solely on a biological link."

Attorney Michele Jackson, who chairs the Adoption Law Division, notes that the ICWA was enacted federally, but does apply in each state, including Indiana. "The purpose of the law is well-meaning and generally good but potentially too far reaching into ancestry, as in this case in which the father is 2% Native American, so we assume child has even less ancestry." There is a dichotomy in the law, in that putative fathers may have little rights in Indiana but yet Indian tribes potentially have more rights than a father. Indiana likely needs to revise their statutes to provide better and more clear protections to birth families and potentially Indian tribes. Ms. Jackson concludes, "You can be pro-adoption and pro-birth family/history at the same time."

A decision in the case is expected by the end of June.

Is Adoption right for you?

January 24, 2013


Attorney, Michele Jackson, a founder of HARDEN JACKSON, LLC where she serves as Chair of the Adoption & Reproductive Law Practice Group and concentrates her law practice in adoption, surrogacy, and international family law gives information about the different ways to adopt and considerations for each type.
There are several types of adoption that you may want to consider. The following is general information about adoption that may assist you making a decision regarding whether or not to pursue an adoption for your family.

Domestic Agency Adoption:

  1. Agency finds birth mother and matches you with her.
  2. Agency assist in counseling and preparations for the adoption.
  3. You will need an adoption attorney to assist you with the legal aspects of the adoption.
  4. Generally you have a relationship prior to adoption and possibly post adoption with the birth mother/family.
  5. You generally have good social and medical history on the child.
  6. Birth mother can only consent to adoption post birth and her consent is vital for the success of the adoption.
  7. Cost is between $20,000-40,000 all expenses.

Foster-to-Adopt:

  1. Child is a ward of the state and the state must qualify you to adopt and match you to child.
  2. Child has been a victim of abuse or neglect.
  3. There is typically some type of contact with biological family pre-adoption and possibly post-adoption.
  4. Child may not be an infant.
  5. Child may not qualify for adoption and be reunited with their birth family, depending upon when in the process you decide to be involved.
  6. You generally have good social and medical history on the child.
  7. Cost is minimal and there could be subsidies to assist with any of the costs.

Private Domestic Adoption:

  1. You have found your own birth mother.
  2. You need an adoption attorney to complete your adoption.
  3. Contact with the birth family may happen pre-adoption and post-adoption.
  4. You generally have good social and medical history on the child.
  5. Cost is between $5,000-16,000.

International Adoption:

  1. Your agency matches you with a child in another country.
  2. You need an agency to complete your adoption (which includes legal services of an attorney).
  3. You have little to no contact with birth family.
  4. Country qualifications and requirements must be met for adoption to be completed.
  5. You may know little to no information regarding social and medical history of the child.
  6. Cost is between $25,000-40,000.

Costs are typical and not specific to your agency or adoption. In addition, this is general information and should be considered legal advice or specific to your situation. It is important to know that an adoption should always be completed in Court and you should not assume you have adopted your child without a Decree of Adoption from a Court. I highly recommend using an experienced adoption agency and adoption attorney.

Find out more about Harden Jackson Law's adoption services here.

At Harden Jackson LLC, our practice is devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas of family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, adoption and surrogacy.

Photo(s) of the week - Adoption Journey

November 29, 2012

A picture is worth 1000 words? These two photos tell a story about an adoption journey.

In the first picture, beautiful baby Alyssa is sick and malnourished.

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After Alyssa found her forever family, she is thriving. Happy, healthy and LOVED.

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Are you considering adoption? Our Adoption Practice Group routinely assists clients in a number of domestic and international matters. We also handle step-parent and relative (i.e. grandparent) adoptions.

Join us - A Family Event for the Advocacy for Orphans

November 15, 2012

Please join us in supporting our sister agency, the Fatherless Foundation.

The Fatherless Foundation is holding its annual Auction Benefit on Friday, November 16th at 6pm at The Knights of Columbus on 71st Street in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Fatherless Foundation exists to serve the adopting family, advocate on behalf of the orphan, and respond with action to provide holistic care for orphans and vulnerable children worldwide.

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Indiana Celebrates National Adoption Day - Photo Gallery

November 9, 2012

Here are the photos from Indiana's celebration of National Adoption Day. It was a day filled with education, personal stories and the celebration of children who have found their forever families.

This is an adoptive parent panel. They shared their personal stories and answered questions about their adoption journeys.

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There were also adoptees sharing their stories.

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Thaxton, who was adopted from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was exhausted from being so cute. Look at the drool!

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Judge Zore reading the announcement from Indianapolis mayor, Greg Ballard, declaring it officially "Adoption Day in Indianapolis"

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Attorney Michele Jackson with her beautiful son, Kingston.

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