Family Law Prof Blog

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

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)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

International Adoption

From the Washington Times:

A bipartisan bill to reform international adoption in the U.S. is running into stiff opposition.

Proponents say U.S. foreign policy and programming need to be reorganized to help ensure that millions of orphans are relocated from institutions to families, and that ethical, inter-country adoption by Americans is part of that solution.

Read more here.


May 27, 2014 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Adoption Tradition

Read and hear an audio here about the only known family in the United Kingdom with 3 generations of adopting.

May 13, 2014 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Last American Adoption from Crimea

From ABC:

As the overnight train pulled up to Crimea’s new border with Ukraine, Kristine Proctor held her breath. Armed soldiers outside the window peered inside.

“Are there any foreigners?” they asked the conductor. He pointed at Proctor and her companions: the girl she was adopting from a Crimean orphanage and Inna, the Ukrainian woman who was helping them escape.

“Two Americans,” the conductor replied. The soldiers didn’t ask any more questions and moved on. Eventually the train continued on its way to Kiev, Ukraine’s capital.

Proctor exhaled. Her daughter had made it out as the last Crimean orphan adopted by Americans.

Read more here.


April 23, 2014 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Utah on Adoptions

From Time:

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has approved a measure that will require unwed mothers to tell birth fathers that they plan to give custody of their children to adoption agencies.

Read more here.


April 22, 2014 in Adoption, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Breakdown of English Adoptions

From Family Law Week:

The most comprehensive study ever to be carried out into adoption in England has confirmed that the rate of breakdown is lower than anticipated, but it also reveals a stark picture of the problems faced by families.

In Beyond the Adoption Order: challenges, intervention, disruption researchers from the University of Bristol analysed national data on 37,335 adoptions over a 12 year period to show that 3.2 per cent of children – around three in 100 – move out of their adoptive home prematurely, known as a 'disruption'.

Adoptions were more likely to breakdown if a child was placed once they were over the age of four. Most adoptions breakdown during the teenage years with teenagers 10 times more at risk of disruption compared with children under the age of four.

Read more here.


April 8, 2014 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 3, 2014


From NBC News:

n an Internet forum where parents sought takers for adopted children they no longer wanted, a teenager from Haiti was offered more frequently than any other girl.

Starting at age 14, Nita Dittenber was passed among four families over two years through a practice called “private re-homing.”

In September, Reuters exposed an underground marketin which desperate parents use online bulletin boards to offer adoptees to strangers, often illegally and with no government oversight. The Internet forums, including the Yahoo group where Nita was advertised, can enable abusers to acquire children easily; in one case, an Illinois man who’s now in prison on child pornography charges took home a 10-year-old boy hours after an ad for the child was posted online.

Read more here.


April 3, 2014 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Foreign Adoptions Down

From US News:

The number of foreign children adopted by U.S. parents plunged by 18 percent last year to the lowest level since 1992, due in part to Russia's ban on adoptions by Americans. Adoptions from South Korea and Ethiopia also dropped sharply.

Figures released Friday by the U.S. State Department for the 2013 fiscal year showed 7,094 adoptions from abroad, down from 8,668 in 2012 and down about 69 percent from the high of 22,884 in 2004. The number has dropped every year since then.

Read more here.


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