Results tagged “michele jackson” from Indiana Family Lawyer Blog

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.

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.

Press Release - MICHELE JACKSON NAMED IN INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL'S FORTY UNDER 40 CLASS OF 2013

February 7, 2013

Press 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

MICHELE JACKSON NAMED IN INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL'S FORTY UNDER 40 CLASS OF 2013

CARMEL, IN - February 7th, 2013 -. Attorney Michele Jackson, who chairs the Harden Jackson Law's Adoption and Reproductive Law Practice Group, received the Indianapolis Business Journal's Forty Under 40 award. The award recognizes professionals younger than 40 years of age for service in their jobs and in the community.

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 founding Executive Director 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 .

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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.

Ngo Thi Hong Van.JPG

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

Ngo after.jpg


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.

Attorney Michele Jackson talks Adoption and National Adoption Day on Morning Show

November 6, 2012

Michele Jackson appeared on Indianapolis Lifestyle show, Indy Style, this morning to discuss the laws around domestic and international adoption in Indiana. Jackson also gives some information on Indiana's celebration of National Adoption Day on November 8th at the City County Building.

November is adoption month

INDIANA ADOPTION ATTORNEY COLLABORATES TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL ADOPTION DAY IN INDIANA

October 11, 2012

Indiana will be celebrating National Adoption Day on November 8, 2012 at the Marion County Courthouse. The event is cosponsored by the Children's Bureau. In collaboration with local DCS offices, adoption attorneys and private adoption agencies are finalizing adoptions and holding receptions for adoptive families. There will be food, vendor booths, adoption information and free family portraits for those who attend. All families who have adopted or are interested in adoption are welcome to attend.

Attorney Michele Jackson, who sat on the event planning committee, will be speaking at various times throughout the day about her professional plight in assisting orphans around the world and her personal plight of adopting. Ms. Jackson will attend two adoption finalization hearings in the courthouse, which will be celebrated among others.

There will be media presence and media outlets are encouraged to attend. The event will be from 10:00am-4:00pm at Indianapolis Marion County Building, 200 E. Washington Street, 17th Floor. Vendors will be located on the first floor beginning at 11:30.

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, surrogacy, and international family law. Her practice includes representation for expectant (birth) or 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 Leah Potter at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Michele Jackson discussing Assisted Reproductive Law and Surrogacy on WISH-TV

October 2, 2012

Michele Jackson discussing Surrogacy and Assisted Reproductive Law and the laws pertaining to Indiana on Indy Style.


Family Law and Assisted Reproductive Technology