Articles Posted in Adoption

ME_23_00_sm-150x150Earlier this year, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld the Rockland District Court’s decision that found a de facto parentage relationship between Jessica Lisio’s two biological children and her transgender domestic partner, Tammy Thorndike. Lisio and Thorndike, who identifies as male, began a relationship and decided to have a child together. In 2009, Lisio and Thorndike registered as domestic partners and later Lisio gave birth to their daughter. Their relationship began to fall apart a few months later, but Thorndike and Lisio maintained their existing parental roles. Thorndike finally moved out and two years later, filed a complaint for a determination of paternity and parental rights and responsibilities, which Lisio opposed, arguing that Thorndike had no parental rights. The Court found that “Thorndike undertook a permanent and responsible parental role in the children’s lives”, and that the children would be negatively affected if Thorndike was removed from their lives.

This case is a prime example of how the laws and court system are delayed and could have been avoided had the two parties taken proactive steps to establish their parental rights and responsibilities. In this case, a second-parent adoption lets the non-biological parent adopt a child without the biological parents losing their rights. Also, if the relationship ends, it still allows the adoptive parent to have custody and visitation rights. It’s important to keep in mind that Indiana has become one of a handful of states that now puts both biological and non-biological married same-sex parents on the birth certificate. Therefore, a second-parent adoption is not always necessary in this scenario. Meet with an experienced adoption and reproductive law attorney to learn more about when a second-parent adoption may be required.

In the many states that don’t recognize second-parent adoption, there is the option of a co-parenting agreement which lays out the intentions of the parents regarding the care of the children. This will help protect the intent of the non-biological parent toward the care of the child in the event that the relationship ends. This decision also strengthens the case for establishment of parentage in non-biological parents that use donor egg, which can sometimes arise in a gestational surrogacy. Many states don’t have clear laws on whether parentage can be established using donor egg, so taking intent into consideration fortifies the argument for establishment of legal parentage in non-biological parents.

Workplace
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption recently released its annual “100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces” list. The Foundation has compiled a yearly list of workplaces that offer the best policies for employees growing their families through adoption since 2007. The criteria involve benefits such as financial assistance and paid leave for adoptive families. Employers submit applications and complete surveys, and the Foundation analyzes their data to create the list. The highest amount of financial reimbursement offered by this year’s applicants was $25,000.00, and the longest duration of paid leave was eighteen weeks. The average amount of financial assistance employers offered was $8,000.00, and the average duration of paid leave was five weeks.

Ferring Pharmaceuticals topped the 2016 list, with adoption policies that include reimbursement of up to $25,000.00 in adoption expenses, up to five and a half weeks of paid leave, and adoption counseling resources.  The rest of the top ten is comprised of:

  1. Citizens Bank ($23,460.00 in reimbursement of adoption expenses and 1 week of paid leave);

MJ NCFA Advocacy Day.jpgAs National Adoption Month wraps up, we wanted to share a photo of attorney Michele Jackson and Congresswoman Susan Brooks taken this summer at the National Council for Adoption’s Advocacy Day. Ms. Jackson spent the day on Capitol Hill meeting with several members of Congress to promote adoption and advocate for the adoption community.

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 us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

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

family.jpg In honor of National Adoption Month, our November blog posts are focused on adoption. Today’s blog explores open vs. closed adoptions. These terms are often thrown around in discussions surrounding adoption. Simply put, they refer to the agreed-upon relationship between the adoptive parents and the birth mother before and after the placement. However, the meanings of these terms are not as definitive as they may seem.

Open adoptions encompass a broad variety of relationships. While many people understand them as continuing a relationship between the child and the birth mother after the child has been adopted (through visits and communication, for example), this is only one example of open adoptions. The common thread in all open adoptions is that some kind of in-person contact exists between the adoptive family and the birth mother, and the parties share identifying information. However, the degree of openness between the parties is different in every adoption. Some families may elect to have regular visits with the birth mother, while others may choose to arrange phone calls during the holidays.

Closed adoptions involve limited contact. Identifying information is not shared between the parties, nor do relationships exist between the parties before and after the placement. Typically, the only information shared in closed adoptions includes medical records. However, in this age of electronic communication and social media, it may be nearly impossible to conceal the other party’s identifying information.

internationaladoption.jpgAccording to the U.S. Department of State’s 2014 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption, American adoption of foreign-born children is dramatically declining. The report, released last week, found that the number of foreign-born children adopted by American families has dropped to its lowest level since 1982. Americans adopted 6, 441 foreign-born children in 2014, which constitutes a greater than 9% reduction from the 7, 094 adoptions reported in 2013. The report’s findings indicate a 74% decline over the past ten years, when 22,991 foreign-born children were adopted in 2004.

Various adoption agencies surveyed in this Wall Street Journal article attribute the reduced numbers to several factors, including “policies meant to promote domestic adoption and foster care in countries such as Ethiopia; nationalist sentiment against adoption in emerging economies like China and South Korea; and increased U.S. scrutiny of some countries and individual cases.” For example, China recently began advocating for domestic adoption and instituting stringent qualifications for foreigners to adopt. Additionally, the U.S. discontinued adoptions in Cambodia and Guatemala due to “evidence of baby selling and document fraud.”

Another potential contribution to the steep decline is the improper implementation of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The United States implemented the Convention in 2008. The Convention ensures that each intercountry adoption aligns with the best interests of the child and protects children from abduction, exploitation, and trafficking. According to the article, some countries, such as Cambodia, signed the Convention prior to creating procedures enabling their compliance.

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.

New Picture.pngHere are more moments from the Fair:

Thumbnail image for Africa orphanage trip.jpgYesterday attorney Michele Jackson was asked to give testimony in front of the Indiana legislature in support of Governor Pence’s bill on the adoption tax credit. The bill was approved by the The Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee. Governor Pence has stated that his goal would be to make Indiana the nation’s “most pro-adoption state.”

This is part of a continued effort from Ms. Jackson to advocate for Indiana laws to benefit adopted children and their families. Prior to this testimony, Ms. Jackson met with representatives from the Governor’s office and other Indiana legislature representatives to educate and promote favorable laws in Indiana for adoption. The federal government offers a tax credit for adoptive parents. The bill would allow any Indiana adoptive parents eligible for the federal tax credit to be eligible for the proposed state credit. The bill also would establish a committee to study other states’ adoption programs to improve Indiana policy, including streamlining the process.

Ms. Jackson is well regarded for her work in international adoptions. She has dedicated her profession and personal philanthropy to the adoption and care of orphans worldwide, while assisting couples and individuals to realize their dreams of becoming parents. For a link to the article about the bill, click here.

quoteblock_clinton.jpgThe Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (UAA) goes into effect on July 14, 2014. As of that date, all agencies or persons that provide adoption services in support of the two forms listed below must be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider, in compliance with the Intercountry Adoption Act and accreditation regulations. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), adoptive parents who are not working with an accredited or approved adoption provider and filed Form I-600A or Form I-600 (Application for Orphan Visa) on or after July 13, 2013, may be denied an orphan visa. An Adoptive parent that has filed the appropriate adoption application to the appropriate foreign authority for adoptions prior to July 13, 2013 may also be grandfathered into old regulations and USCIS may not require them to use an agency/provider under the UAA.

This means that many parents may be given a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) or a Notice of Intent to Revoke (NOIR) if they attempted an independent international adoption or used as their placing agency an organization or agency that was not approved/accredited per the UAA unless they filed the above forms/document prior to July 13, 2013. If you receive a NOID or NOIR, it can be a serious complication in your adoption process and may prevent you from completing the international adoption process. The Orphan Visa enables a child adopted from a foreign country to enter the United States. Without the Orphan Visa it may be impossible for the child to legally enter the United States. Our team can assist you with your Rebuttal of a NOID or Appeal of Denial with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Our legal team may also be able to explore other immigration options with you as well.

Denials & Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) Orphan Visa

Thumbnail image for MLJ WEB2.jpgAttorney Michele Jackson was interviewed by the Associated Press about the desperate situation for the children and adoptive parents in the Congo. The article appeared in many national publications, including the Huffington Post. To link to the article, click here. Otherwise, the text is below.

“Justin Carroll is the proud dad of a 6-week-old daughter in Tennessee, but thus far he’s done his doting via Facetime video phone calls from Africa. Since mid-November, Carroll has been living in Congo, unwilling to leave until he gets exit papers allowing two newly adopted sons to travel with him.

Carroll and his wife, Alana, are among scores of U.S. couples caught up in wrenching uncertainty, as a suspension of all foreign adoptions imposed by Congolese authorities has temporarily derailed their efforts to adopt.