Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznare
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, November 23, 2015

Same-Sex Adoption in AL

Margaret Ryznar, an associate professor of Law at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, and Robin Fretwell Wilson, a Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law, discuss an Alabama woman’s request that the United States Supreme Court review an Alabama Supreme Court decision refusing to recognize her adoption of her same-sex partner’s 3 children in Georgia.  Listen to the Bloomberg Law podcast here.

November 23, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Utah Judge Rescinds Order that Lesbian Couple Can't Keep Foster Child

From CNN:

A Utah judge who initially decided to take a baby away from her same-sex foster parents and place her in a home with heterosexual parents has changed his mind, after widespread criticism.

Juvenile Court Judge Scott Johansen rescinded his order, according to court documents obtained by CNN on Friday.

He amended Tuesday's first ruling, crossing out the line in the order that read, "The Court orders the Division to place the child with a duly married, heterosexual foster-adoptive couple within one week."

Court documents show Johansen wrote initially that it was not in the best interest of children to be raised by same sex couples, citing "belief that research has shown that children are more emotionally and mentally stable when raised by a mother and father in the same home ..."

Johansen, in his amended order, struck the sentence about the best interest of children and scratched out "belief" and replaced it with "concern."

"The judge is clearly reacting to adverse publicity and critical comments regarding his controversial previous ruling," said CNN legal analyst Paul Callan after reviewing the court documents.

Callan said the change suggests that the judge was worried about his order "being viewed as an application of religious belief rather than an application of the law."

Read more here.

November 18, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Long Shadow of China's One-Child Adoption Policy

From The New York Times Magazine:

If you get stuck in a crowd in China — it’s not hard to do in a country of nearly 1.4 billion — you may hear someone mutter, “Ren tai duo!”: “Too many people!” It’s a common but misleading complaint. The real demographic crisis that prompted the Chinese government’s decision last week to end its one-child policy is more palpable on the quiet Shanghai lane where I live with my family: There is a dearth of young people.

Our neighbors consist mainly of aging pensioners and young Chinese families with a single child, or no children at all. After 35 years of one of the world’s most radical experiments in social engineering, Shanghai’s fertility rates have plunged to perilously low levels: just 0.7 children per couple, less than half the national average and a third of the 2.1 replacement rate. (The United States’ replacement rate is about 1.9.)

When we go out together on the streets of Shanghai, our two sons draw double takes (along with the inevitable question: “They’re twins, right?”). The confusion provoked by the sight of two boys in a single family may soon dissipate, even if the social complications triggered by the one-child policy will continue to shape China for decades to come. By promising to allow families to have two children — but no more — the government hopes to avert a demographic time bomb that is the precise opposite of the one it faced 35 years ago. Back then, in the aftermath of Mao Zedong’s patriotic campaign to produce more children to “make the nation stronger,” Deng Xiaoping instituted the one-child policy to reduce the number of mouths to feed, stimulating economic growth and prosperity.

The debate over whether the one-child policy has been essential to China’s rise, or whether that would have been achieved naturally without such an intrusive campaign, will rage for years to come. But even the government has come to recognize, belatedly, its dangerous social and economic consequences.

Chinese officials still seem impervious to the needless human suffering the policy has inflicted: the forced abortions and sterilizations, the undocumented children born and raised in the shadows, the persecution and even imprisonment of those (like the blind lawyer Chen Guancheng) who tried to expose its abuses. But Beijing’s reversal is an attempt to mitigate the massive social imbalances that will most likely reverberate for generations: the shrinking work force that is hurting China’s competitiveness; a rapidly aging population with too few young people to shoulder the burden; and a sex ratio so skewed that there is now a bubble of 25 million extra males of marrying age, “bare branches” on the family tree with few prospects of ever finding a wife.

Read more here.

November 12, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

American Civil Liberties Union Sues Indiana Agency over Adoption Subsidies

From Washington Times:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two foster parents against the director of the Indiana Department of Child Services’ Central Eligibility Unit over adoption subsidies.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday on behalf of Lyons residents David and Julie Arthur, who act as foster parents for three grandsons, the Indianapolis Star ( ) reports.

The couple claims the state agency violated federal law by calculating the adoption subsidy without considering “circumstances of the adopting parents and the needs of the child being adopted,” according to court records.

The Arthurs say they want to adopt their grandsons, who are 6, 3 and 2 years old. The couple says the boys have “profound disabilities,” but that they can’t pay for services needed.

Medicaid covers the boys’ medical needs. Their grandparents receive $145.72 per day as licensed foster parents to help offset the boys’ extensive needs.

If the Arthurs adopt the boys, they would get $52 per day under the Department of Child Services’ “final offer” for adoption assistance payments. The couple says it would be “impossible” to “adequately and appropriately care for the children” at that amount, according to the lawsuit.

Read more here.

November 7, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Intel Expands Fertility and Adoption Benefits to Entice Female Employees


Intel announced this week that it planned to quadruple fertility benefits and triple adoption benefits for its employees, upping the ante for large tech firms that are trying to woo female workers by offering greater than average healthcare coverage.

Because one in eight women nationally struggle with fertility, Intel said boosting benefits for people struggling in that area is just good for business.

"This initiative is basically trying to help our employees at a time when any research says that it's very stressful, specifically, people trying to start a family," said Richard Taylor, Intel's director of human resources.

Women account for a little more than 24 percent of Intel's workforce, and the company hopes that figure will grow.

"What we wanted to do was to keep the talent we've got, and also help to attract even more talent," Taylor said.

Intel announced in a blog post Monday that beginning in 2016, it would boost its fertility benefit coverage from $10,000 to $40,000 for medical services. It also would increase related prescription services from $5,000 to $20,000.

In addition, employees no longer need a medical diagnosis for fertility coverage, which will help some same-sex couples. Intel also said it will triple adoption assistance to $15,000 per child.

Read more here.

October 30, 2015 in Adoption, Alternative Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How 3 Young Girls and an Arkansas State Official Became the Center of Adoption Controversy

From ABC News:

An adoption controversy in Fayetteville, Ark., has ignited a debate over the controversial practice of "re-homing" and caring for adopted children that have been abused.

The adoption involves three little girls, who ranged in age from 9 months to 4 years old when it started. Their biological mother, who had a history of drug abuse and had lived with a string of abusive men, was deemed unfit to care for them. She called Justin and Marsha Harris to take her daughters.

ABC News "20/20" has declined to name the biological mother and the three girls out of respect for their privacy.

What happened next led to months of what the couple said were "terrified, sleepless nights" and a dispute about whether they should have taken the little girls in the first place.

Read more here.

October 27, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Couples Sue Over Tribal Adoption Hurdles

From The Wall Street Journal:

For nearly four decades, couples wishing to adopt American Indian children out of troubled situations have faced several hurdles, including giving the child’s tribe a chance to find suitable tribal parents first.

Now some prospective adoptive parents, Indian birthparents and members of the adoption industry are challenging the laws and regulations involved.

“The laws once served a purpose, but these days they’re doing more harm than good to children,” said Kate Wicar of Erie, Colo. She and her husband were blocked last year by the Osage tribe from adopting a 3-year-old Oklahoma girl who is part Osage. The Osage Nation didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 to end what was then a common practice by state and private adoption agencies of pulling Indian children from their homes and placing them in state-run boarding schools or homes of non-Indian parents where they were thought to be better off. The law was aimed at giving tribes more say over the fate of Indian children, and keeping more families intact. It allows tribes to intervene in some child-welfare cases and requires a state that has temporarily moved an Indian child from its home to make “active efforts” to help the family retain custody.

People who identify as fully American Indian or Alaska Native make up 1.2% of the U.S. population, and children from those groups are about 1.7 times as likely to be adopted as other children, according to census data.

Read more here.

October 21, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

'Orphan Hosting' Boosts Adoption Odds by Bringing Kids to U.S. to Visit Families

From Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Last month, Jennifer and Ross Franke were headed home from a family vacation on a lake up north when Jennifer asked Ross to make an unscheduled stop in Cottage Grove. There was a social gathering there that she saw posted on Facebook, at the home of a couple she only knew through a mutual friend. The couple were hosting a boy from a Chinese orphanage through a special monthlong program, and Jennifer wanted to meet him.

Today, 12-year-old Jacob is safely back in China while the Frankes of Waukesha have started what will likely be a yearlong process to adopt him.

"I feel like he's already part of our heart and family," Jennifer Franke said.

The program that brought them together is known as "orphan hosting," and it's a lesser known path to finding adoptive parents at a time when international children awaiting adoption are increasingly older or have complex medical or behavioral needs.

Advocates say such programs that arrange meetings in advance of the adoption process help families to consider adopting children they might not have otherwise considered. The Frankes had talked about adoption as a way to have a fourth child, but had been discouraged by their earlier research into the difficulty of being matched, and the expense of international adoption.

Critics of hosting programs favor domestic adoption programs within a child's own country. They question the emotional effect on children who are hosted, but ultimately never adopted. And while some families have great experiences adopting through hosting, others can feel like hosting was a honeymoon compared to the reality of parenting full time when the adoption is finalized.

Hosting has become more common in the past five to seven years in part because interest among Americans seeking international adoptions remains strong. But the number of children adopted internationally into the United States has continually declined since about 2004. A recent State Department report showed Americans adopted just 6,441 children from abroad in 2014, down from a peak of 22,884 a decade prior.

Read more here.

September 22, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Mexico Adoption-For-Cash Scheme Took Babies From Mothers

From CBS News:

A child welfare official in northern Mexico took at least nine babies from poor or drug-addicted mothers and offered them to adoptive parents in exchange for payments ranging from $5,000 to $9,000, authorities said Friday.

Raul Ramirez, the head of the government human rights commission in the border state of Sonora, said the scheme apparently went on for years and may involve many more children.

"They searched for vulnerable mothers, poor people or those who had problems of drug addiction, and took away their babies and offered them in adoption in return for money," Ramirez said.

Three of the babies have been identified and recovered, but Ramirez said "there may be many more, from years back, and some of these children could be 20 years old by now."

Read more here.

August 30, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Mississippi Ban on Adoptions by Same-Sex Couples is Challenged

From The New York Times:

When Mississippi adopted a one-sentence law forbidding adoptions by same-sex couples in 2000, it was not so surprising: For decades, gay men and lesbians in several states had run into roadblocks when they sought to adopt or foster children.

So it was a potent marker of how fast laws and attitudes on gay rights issues have changed on Wednesday when civil rights lawyers filed suit in federal court challenging the law.

Mississippi’s ban is now the only one of its kind in the nation. And legal experts said that in the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision upholding same-sex marriage, it was highly unlikely it could hold up in court. The lawsuit was filed by the Campaign for Southern Equality, the Family Equality Council and four Mississippi same-sex couples in United States District Court.

“We’ve come so far here just recently; it’s pretty amazing the speed of the change,” said Janet Smith, a plaintiff in the case, who is seeking to adopt the 8-year-old daughter, Hannah Marie Phillips, she is raising with her wife, Donna Phillips.

Read more here.

August 20, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Priest in "Children of Silence" Adoption Scam Leaves Chile


A priest at the center of an illegal baby adoption scam in Chile has been moved out of the country and faces no charges, even after admitting he participated in at least two illegal adoptions.

The Rev. Gerardo Joannon, who belongs to the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts order, has been relocated to a house for priests in the city of Merlo, Argentina.

The transfer is supposed to be "an act of religious obedience" and a time to pray and serve penance, according to a statement issued by the order. The statement does not give a reason for his penance.

Joannon, who is in his late 70s, publicly admitted last year that he had facilitated illegal adoptions during the 1970s and '80s.

According to the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts order and Chilean authorities, the priest took at least two babies from their biological mothers, either through lies or coercion, and in secret gave them to adoptive families.

Read more here.

August 5, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Lawyer Who Fostered 29 Kids Helps Hundreds More Find Permanent Homes

From NBC News:

Fostering 29 children is no simple feat, but for a lawyer in Kansas, providing a home for more than two dozen kids over the years was the relatively easy part.

He's also helped more than 1,000 kids find permanent homes by using his legal knowledge to help foster parents adopt — for free.

When Kansas City attorney Gene Balloun and his wife, Sheila Wombles, fostered their first child, David, they knew they were hooked. They eventually adopted David and the last child they fostered, Hannah. In between, they welcomed 27 other children into their home.

But the process of adopting David wasn't easy, and the couple joined a foster parent support group, where Balloun would often be asked for legal advice. That's when he realized there was a need that he could fulfill.

"My real joy in the law practice is not in winning some big case, but completing a final adoption," Balloun said. For that reason, he's represented foster parents in 1,035 adoption cases — pro bono.

Read more here.

July 26, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Suit Accuses New York City and State of Keeping Children in Foster Care Too Long

From New York Times:

Elisa, 16, has been in foster care for more than two-thirds of her life, moving through so many foster homes that she has lost track of them all — including four in the past two years. She was sexually abused in one, punched by her foster mother in another and hospitalized for depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder after several more. 

Thierry, who is 3, has been in foster care for more than half his life, ever since his mother took out an order of protection against his father, who had choked her and threatened to kill her. But 21 months after New York City child welfare workers took him from his home while his mother was at work, the courts have yet to determine whether there was any cause to separate them.

After four years in the foster care system, Alexandria, 12, had already been shuffled between eight foster homes. Her foster parents for the past four years volunteered to adopt her, but the city did not legally free her for adoption in time, leaving her in limbo.

Running through these cases, according to a federal class-action lawsuit being filed on Wednesday against the child welfare agencies of New York City and New York State, is a common thread of delay, mismanagement and incompetence that keeps children in an often harmful foster care system for months or years longer than necessary.

The lawsuit alleges that the city’s Administration for Children's Services fails to provide the services, planning and caseworker training to help children find permanent families before they suffer irreparable harm — all part of a lack of urgency, child welfare advocates say, that permeates the system.

Read more here.

July 18, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Building Families Through Embryo Adoption

From Arizona Daily Star:

After trying to conceive a baby for eight years, Dana and Tim Eriksson never thought they’d see a positive pregnancy test.

But thanks to embryo adoption — an option that allows the adoptive mother to experience pregnancy and give birth to her adopted child through the transfer of donated frozen embryos — Dana became pregnant.

Their son, Stone, was born almost four months ago, making the Erikssons the first local family known to successfully give birth to a Snowflake baby — a term the nonprofit agency the family used, Nightlight Christian Adoptions, coined to describe its embryo adoption program.

There are more than 600,000 cryo-preserved embryos in the United States, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Embryos are left over from couples who go through in vitro fertilization.

“If you made 10 embryos, we’re not going to put 10 embryos into you,” said Holly Hutchison, IVF coordinator at Reproductive Health Center. “We would transfer one. In the case of embryo adoption, you might have a couple that had two or three babies and had embryos remaining and didn’t want them to be discarded, so they allow someone else to use them to create a baby.”

Read more here.

July 10, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Canada's 'Broken' Adoption System Leaves Children Stranded

From CBC News:

A childless couple are giving up on adoption after battling what they say is a broken system that leaves thousands of Canadian children stuck in provincial care instead of placing them with willing families.

"It wasn't impatience that made us stop adoption — it was a loss of faith completely in the system. When you start to wonder, 'What the hell is going on?'" Lori Niles-Hofmann told Go Public.

What was going on, she said, were long, unexplained delays, no answers and no accountability.

Niles-Hofmann and her husband, Martin Hofmann, have been trying to expand their family for more than a decade. When fertility treatments didn't work, they looked at adoption internationally and then locally.

The couple are educated, they describe themselves as loving and willing to welcome a child of any age into their home. They've gone through the lengthy screening process and were deemed "adoption ready" in Ontario.

The screening process took more than a year and included everything from financial checks to criminal background checks. But despite all of it, they now believe they'll never be parents because of what they say is an inefficient and understaffed system.

Read more here.

July 3, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Open Adoption from 1965 Being Investigated

From St Louis Public Radio:

As a well-known gospel singer continues to search for answers as to how and why her daughter was taken from her at birth, a newly opened adoption record holds some clues for the ongoing investigation.  

Zella Jackson Price contends that she gave birth to a baby girl in 1965 at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in north St. Louis, where she was told the infant died. But the child, now named Melanie Gilmore, was instead placed in foster care. Almost fifty years later, Gilmore's children contacted Price through Facebook, and the two were reunited in a Youtube video that went viral.

After petitioning the state for records of adoption and birth, Price and Gilmore’s attorney, Albert Watkins,  received, and then released a 103-page file to the public on Friday. The records include Gilmore’s birth certificate, which has a signature for Price that Watkins believes was forged. The certificate lists Gilmore’s place of birth as City Hospital #1, which Price says is incorrect. Homer G. Phillips was City Hospital #2.

Read more here.

June 16, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Ugandan Families Tricked into Adoption

From Catholic Online:

Ugandan families have been bribed, tricked or coerced into giving up their children to U.S. citizens and other foreigners for adoption, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation has found.

Leaked documents, court data, and a series of exclusive interviews with officials, whistleblowers, victims and prospective adoptive parents has revealed a culture of corruption in which children's birth histories are at times manipulated to make them appear as orphans when they are not, a lucrative industry in which lawyers acting on behalf of foreign applicants receive large payments, a mushrooming network of unregistered childcare institutions through which children are primed for adoption, and an absence of reliable court data to counteract allegations of negligence or fraud by probation officers involved in the adoption process.

Read more here.

June 14, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Open Adoptions in Nebraska

From Lincoln Journal Star:

The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday affirmed a lower court's decision to return a baby to his biological parents after spending more than a year with his adoptive parents.

The case involving two Richardson County couples raises questions about the lack of legal communication and visitation safeguards in so-called open adoptions in Nebraska and could lead to more closed, private adoptions, some family lawyers said Friday.

Private and agency adoptions have increasingly been more open in recent years, meaning more communication about and contact among biological parents and the children they give up for adoption, lawyers said.

The Richardson County case underscores the importance that biological parents understand that when they finalize an adoption in Nebraska they legally surrender their parental rights, other lawyers said.

Jason and Rebecca Wissmann, who lost the baby boy they adopted, hope lawmakers will fix the open adoption problem and spare others the devastation they experienced, their attorney said.

Read more here.

June 12, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Moroccan Orphanages

From PBS NewsHour:

Orphanages in Morocco face a unique challenge in trying to find permanent homes for children in their care. A recent law has made it nearly impossible for many would-be parents, especially under the Islamist government.

Moroccan society doesn’t accept unwed mothers, so many prefer to get rid of the child at birth. For the children we find who are older than age 2, we believe their mothers tried to keep their babies with them, but because they are rejected by their families and are unable to find a job, they decided to abandon the child.

The long-term goal of this orphanage is to find these children permanent homes. But that’s not so simple here in Morocco. Morocco, as a Muslim country, doesn’t permit traditional adoption. Instead, there is an alternative system called kafala, translated as custody or guardianship, that can last until the child turns 18. Kafala is just the caretaking of a child by adoptive parents. In adoption, they become like a biological child. That’s to say an actual child of the family, with rights of name, and rights of inheritance, everything. Why does Islam forbid adoption? To avoid the mixing of genes, for example, a brother marrying his sister without knowing it. A key requirement of kafala is that children’s original identity be maintained, including their religion.

Read more here.

June 10, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New Adoption Law in Washington

From kirotv:

A new law will open access to original, pre-adoption birth certificates for all Washington-born adult adoptees beginning in July, state officials announced Tuesday.

That means people who have wondered who their birth parents are may now find out without a lengthy court process. The state is taking pre-orders for original birth certificates now.

Read more here.


May 28, 2014 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)