Adopt SF – Gyemant Paris Law

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Our Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Blog

Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl Supreme Court - Update

In Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl Supreme Court decision update!  As expected, Dusten Brown, the biological father of the child at the center of the Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl has filed a petition to adopt Veronica in Oklahoma. As you may remember, the Court returned the case to the North Carolina Court to decide who would retain custody of Veronica. The Court had said that the biological father didn’t have the right to prevent the adoption because he never had custody of Veronica. We imagine that will remain with her biological father, and he has taken the first step to make that happen.

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New IVF Screening Assisted Reproduction Process

We’ve been reading for a while about a ground breaking new IVF (In Vitro) process which allows doctors to choose the healthiest egg to implant.  Whether a person/ couple is using their own egg or entering into a surrogacy arrangement, this development is going to change how IVF works.  It has the opportunity for creating more success in assisted reproduction and less disappointment due to failed cycles.  We’re excited to see how this technology develops!  Pacific Fertility in San Francisco has been working on this technology as well.  A successful pregnancy is always the best news we can hope for our clients.  For more information, you can see this article about the technology:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23205638.  More information about what Pacific Fertility is doing can be found on their website:  www.pacificfertilitycenter.com

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Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl - what does it mean for you?

The Supreme Court ruled on Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl today, specifically in regards to ICWA application.  Although it is seen as a victory for the adoptive couple and voluntary adoptive placements in general, this case still magnifies for the majority of adoptive parents their number one fear; the fear of a baby being placed in their care for the purposes of adoption but later removed on a technicality.  In this case, where Baby Veronica will actually live is still in question and unfortunately for the adoptive couple, it is likely that an immediate family member from the Cherokee birth father’s family will now file a petition for adoption in the state court where the case has been remanded.  A relative adoption is likely to keep Baby Veronica living with her biological father.  But as we all probably understand, there are no “winners” in this case.

 

Watching these types of heartbreaking outcomes from the sidelines of your own adoption journey can be challenging.  Thinking about how you, yourself would handle what happened to this particular adoptive family, can escalate your own fears to the point where you might even be contemplating getting off the road of adoption all together.  However, before you think about giving up on adoption because of something that COULD, MAYBE OR MIGHT happen, please consider talking to adoptive families who have successfully adopted.  You can contact your home study agency or a local adoptive parents’ support group.  Take a moment to surround yourself with successful, happy stories from real, live people who became parents through adoption in spite of the treacherous road they were traveling.

You can find a clear explanation of the opinion in Adoptive couple v. Baby Girl here.

By listening to the positive outcomes, the joyous conclusions and the unwavering belief from adoptive parents who feel they are truly raising the child they were meant to raise, your own lost hope and tainted belief in this journey might be renewed, giving you the strength to carry on!

 

Our thoughts go out to all the parties involved in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, especially Baby Veronica.

 

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Birth Father Adoption Involvement: To Be or Not To Be

Many of us in the adoption community read the court’s ruling this week regarding biological father, Jake Strickland’s legal fight to overturn the adoptive placement of a child in the state of Utah. Hearts have been breaking from every angle with this story that has been unfolding over the past two years. See complete details of story HERE.

Experience tells us that having a birth father included in the adoption process is always best but it’s certainly not a common reality. Adoption cases most likely involve stories of “unidentified” men whose whereabouts are unknown or men who want nothing to do with the process. It then becomes the responsibility of the adoption professional to conduct the necessary due diligence under their state law in order to make the adoption “safe”.  Providing notice of the adoption to all alleged fathers is considered the best way to reduce risk and avoid a paternity action being filed after birth.

Utah and a handful of other states that have Putative Father Registries do not require notice. Unfortunately, The Putative Father Registery seems to have high expectations of sexually active young men in America as well as a way of generally being able to avoid birth fathers involvement in adoption matters. California in contrast, requires notice of the adoption to known alleged fathers and until there is a court order terminating parental rights, an adoption is not considered “safe”.

Countless conversations with birth fathers over the years, shows us that many birth fathers are like any other person within the adoption process. They want to be heard and many are very easy to work with once they are treated as a valuable piece within the adoption puzzle. But almost all of them do soon depart once they’ve received notice or signed the necessary paperwork that keeps the adoption moving forward.  By taking a chance to involve him as early as possible and maybe even with meeting him, the adoptive family will gain so much more than just peace of mind.  However, if it’s learned he’s not in agreement and he’s taking actions to show his intent to fight the adoption, having this information earlier rather than later will inevitably prevent immense heartache further down the road.

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Later in Life Motherhood - Can Dr. Oz Get Us Talking?

Yesterday Dr. Oz’s tv show focused on Later in Life Motherhood.  Talking about the risks and also some rewards of becoming a mother later in life.  You can find the videos here.  Dr. Oz asked the viewers why women are not talking about fertility?  As a lawyer working in adoption and assisted reproduction, I head so many stories about the fertility struggles of women.  No woman’s dreams of becoming a mother include IVF, Surrogacy or Adoption.  In my office, we talk about fertility with great compassion, and understanding and without judgment.  Whether we are talking to a adopting and intended parents, surrogates, birthmothers.   I am always honored to work with women and men trying to decide the next step in life:  placing their child for adoption, finding a path for parenthood or securing parental rights.  But how much more wonderful it would be if we could talk openly about fertility, without judgment.  On this I agree with Dr. Oz, let’s start talking about fertility, later in life motherhood, risks of later pregnancy, adoption, IVF and surrogacy.  There’s more discussion on Dr. Oz’s website here.

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Are Domestic Partner Adoptions Different Than Step-Parent Adoption in California?

Are domestic partner adoptions different than step-parent adoption in California?  In many states, domestic partner adoptions are not treated the same as step-parent adoptions.  Domestic partner adoptions are still treated as “second-parent” adoptions, which is a full adoption process, just like adopting a newborn. It is more expensive and more difficult than step-parent adoptions. In step-parent adoptions, only one social worker visit is required, and it can often be completed in 2 – 3 months. In California, domestic partner adoptions are treated the same as step-parent adoptions under California Family Law Code section 9000. Otherwise they would have to go through the same process as newborn adoption process. That would mean four post-placement visits, and at least 6 months or more to complete your adoption process. Not to mention the cost involved! So, in California same-sex couples can take advantage the domestic partners laws to complete their adoption. Step-parent adoption in California will apply to them.  But, they have to register as domestic partners with the state – otherwise they are still stuck in “second-parent” status. We’ll cover second parent adoption in another post – and we’ll be updating our step-parent adoption information on our website soon. Until then, feel free to call or email us at our office.

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News Affecting Same-Sex Adoptions in California & Virginia

There was news in both California and Virginia this week affecting same-sex marriage – and adoption – in vastly different directions.  In California, a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rule Proposition 8 unconstitutional.  Prop 8 is voter mandated ban on gay marriage which was created to deny marriage rights in California.  The court ruled that Prop 8 violated the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause by stigmatizing a minority group with no legitimate reason.  Judge Reinhardt wrote in part, “Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”  The court also stated that since California law already provides domestic partnership rights equal to marriage, Prop 8 took away marital rights while leaving same-sex partners registered with state with all the responsibilities of marriage.  This fight has not seen it’s last day court, but this ruling is a step towards creating greater right for same-sex couples not just in marriage, but in adoption as well.  Marriage rights will create a smoother adoption process for same-sex couples moving forward in the future.  Read more about it here.

On the other side of the country, and moving in a clearly different direction is the State of Virginia.  The House of Delegates and the Senate this week moved to approve a law which adds a “Conscience Clause” to Virginia’s adoption laws.  Virginia’s Governor has said that he will sign it readily when it reaches his desk. This law allows agencies in that state to reject an adoptive parent if it conflicts with their moral or religious beliefs.   While on its face it does not change who can or cannot adopt, the reality is that it will change the ability of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Virginia to create their families.   One step forward, one step back.

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The Weight of the Wait in Adoption

Most everyone knows Jillian Michaels.  She is mainly known as the tough, hard-core, no excuses physical trainer from the Biggest Loser.  She has coached and trained many in successfully achieving their goals for better health and weight loss.  Ms. Michaels has publically announced her desire to adopt a child and was recently “matched” with a little girl in Haiti.  In a recent US Magazine article, when asked about how long it could take, Ms. Michaels was quoted as saying “It could be six months, twelve months; it could be two years. Or, it could be tomorrow….”  Ms. Michaels also expressed how difficult the waiting is and admits that it’s affected her physically as well.

Although her international adoption has different obstacles as compared to domestic, Ms. Michaels is verbalizing what almost all adoptive parents struggle with along the path of adoption….…the wait!  Not knowing exactly when that moment will occur when a child is actually placed in your home for the purpose of adoption creates a level of stress for many that can feel like a huge daily burden.  For some, the “weight” of that stress may also take its toll physically and emotionally as we see it has with Ms. Michaels.

But surrounding yourself with people who not only understand the adoption process but are able to “coach” you through the waiting time period can be extremely beneficial.  Many adoptive parents are involved with adoption support groups or individualized counseling that assists them with the various stressful stages of the process.

We believe that compassionate guidance, constant support and sometimes even a little matter-of-fact conversation is necessary during the adoption journey.  As we observe someone like America’s most tough-talking, nerves of steel physical trainer struggle with the wait in her adoption, it makes us all realize no one is immune from this.  Your adoption team cannot necessarily make the wait time shorter but having an experienced adoption “trainer”, creates a better likelihood of success in dealing with “the weight of the wait” as you move closer to your goal to become a parent.

Read more about Jillian Michael’s adoption journey here.

 

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Lessons from Custody Battle over Native American Girl

One area of adoption that few adoptive parents are aware of is clearance under the Indian Child and Welfare Act or ICWA.  The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (95-608, 92 Stat. 3069 [Nov. 8, 1978] codified at 25 U.S.C. § 1901-63) is a law that governs the removal and out-of-home placement of U.S. Indian children (www.nicwa.org).  When one of the biological parents has ties to a Native American tribe, this clearance is required for the adoption to proceed.  There has been a lot of discussion about ICWA in the news lately in the wake of a decision in the adoption of a now two year-old girl. In this case, the Cherokee Tribe chose to intervene in an adoption on behalf of the biological father when he changed his mind after initially signing the necessary papers under North Carolina law.  ICWA is a federal law, meaning it trumps the North Carolina state law of terminating the birth father’s parental rights.

We must note however, that the outcome in this case is rare.  The majority of adoption cases requiring notice under ICWA result in safe placements.  However, there is no way to “skip” around ICWA.  At the beginning of an adoption, professionals must work closely with birth parents to gather the necessary information to determine if ICWA applies.  An experienced adoption professional will generally know whether tribal intervention is likely prior to notice being given.  But no matter how unlikely tribal intervention may be, Letters of Clearance must be received by all Rancherias within a federally recognized tribe before an adoption may proceed forward.

As mentioned, what happened in this case is rare.  But when it does happen, it’s heartbreaking for all involved.  Our thoughts go out to this adoptive family and the child who was removed from their care after two years.  Here is a link to that story:

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A Thought for the Holidays

Although the holidays can bring about great joy, they can also be a time of increased pressure of finding the perfect gifts for loved ones, making appearances at all the parties and remembering to get those greeting cards mailed by the end of year deadline.  But when you are also now a hopeful adoptive parent in the midst of the adoption process, the holidays can bring about some unanticipated anxiety.  Being confronted in the middle of a party with questions on how’s the adoption going or being showered with stories of someone who once knew someone who “tried to adopt,” can place any adoptive parent-to-be in an awkward and uncomfortable position, even if it’s from well-meaning friends, relatives, and colleagues.

It is at this time of year, that we remind adoptive parents in the “outreach” phase of their adoption, to take care of themselves first!  If you’re going to be overwhelmed by inappropriately-phrased questions from your nearest and dearest, politely decline some of those holiday invitations. Now, we’re not saying that you should be canceling the holidays all together but rather, strategize what is best for you during this time and believe it or not, loved ones will understand.  Only you can truly decide what would be best for you whether it be to attend the jingle bell rock company dance party where the music is so loud nobody is having a conversation vs. the intimate dinner gathering with only the closest friends and family.  Maybe it’s the perfect time to have a tropical holiday this year or steal away to that snowy mountain villa.  If that’s not in your budget, cozy up at home and catch up on all those great movies you missed out on while you were completing your homestudy!  Basically, give yourself permission to do what feels right for you!  If you’re presence is mandatory, and adoption questions can’t be avoided, have prepared a pleasant one-liner and then immediately redirect with an inquiry into everyone’s 2012 resolutions!

Remember, this is the time of year of belief, celebrations and optimism for the year to come.  So celebrate your decision to adopt, gather up enough hope now that will carry you through every hill and valley throughout your adoption process in 2012, avoid the naysayers and sad story tellers but most importantly, believe that it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” you will become a parent.

Some suggested one-liners (and it is suggested that no matter what they keep asking, just repeat the same one over and over again—eventually, they’ll catch on!):

“Very thoughtful of you to ask, our adoption is going well.”

“Wow, that’s a crazy adoption story.  You must be a big fan of horror films, huh?”

“Yes, the adoption process is interesting and we’re so excited about it.”

“Wow, you seem to know a lot about adoption legal stuff, how’s your hair salon business doing these days?”

“Things are going very well.  We have a great adoption team and are moving right along in the process.”

“Thank you so much for verbalizing everything on my list of reasons why I didn’t want to adopt.  But after meeting with some great people actually working in adoption, I now see that it’s going to be just fine.”

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