Family Law Prof Blog

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

New Surrogacy Law in D.C.

From The Washington Post:

Edward Palmieri and Christopher Schriever were on the George Washington Bridge, barreling north on Interstate 95, when their twin babies were born. The couple arrived at the hospital after dawn to meet their children and settled into a room that had been reserved for their new family.

Kelli Rapp, a Vermont woman they had contracted with to carry their children, was recovering from an emergency Caesarean section in a room nearby. The Washington couple spent the next two days wheeling the babies’ bassinets between their rooms, visiting with her family and extended relatives.

The first days after birth were “a mix of complete joy and fear: This is really happening,” Palmieri said. “It was such a process.”

The couple’s journey to parenthood involved an egg donor, a surrogate, legal teams in six states, and well over $150,000 spent over the course of 2½ years.

Three years later, they have reason to hope that the path to parenthood will be more streamlined for other District residents: A 25-year-old law that banned surrogacy contracts was recently reversed by the D.C. Council. That means would-be parents will no longer need to leave the District to contract with a surrogate. The law, passed in December, became effective in April after a required congressional review.

Read more here.

June 15, 2017 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Texas Adoption Legislation Targets Religious Beliefs and Lifestyle Choices

From Newsweek:

The Texas House of Representatives has passed a bill that allows adoption agencies and foster care providers to reject applicants based on their religious beliefs and lifestyle choices.

The bill will let state-funded and private organizations make decisions about prospective parents based on their religious beliefs, meaning that couples who are gay, Jewish, Muslim or interfaith could be rejected when seeking to take care of a child. The bill could also affect people who have been divorced and remarried, or those who are single. Additionally, the bill provides a legal cover for agencies that use “religious freedom” as the basis for making their decision.

While five other states have passed similar laws, Texas’s is one of the few that extends to state-funded agencies. 

Read more here.

May 15, 2017 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Kentucky Judge Won't Hear Gay Adoption Cases

From The Washington Post:

Two years after a Kentucky county clerk stirred national attention for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a family court judge in the same state announced he will no longer hear adoption cases involving gay parents, calling his stance on the issue “a matter of conscience.”

Judge W. Mitchell Nance, who sits in Barren and Metcalfe counties in Kentucky, issued an order Thursday saying he believes that allowing a “practicing homosexual” to adopt would “under no circumstance” promote the best interest of the child, he wrote in the order obtained by The Washington Post.

The judge disqualified himself from any adoption cases involving gay couples, citing judicial ethics codes requiring that judges recuse themselves whenever they have a “personal bias or prejudice” concerning a case. Nance’s “conscientious objection” to the concept of gay parents adopting children constitutes such a bias, he argued.

Read more here.

May 1, 2017 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Complicated custody battle between a child's adoptive parents and birth father

From ABC News:

Braelynn Dalsing is like any 3-year-old growing up in South Carolina. She’s fascinated with backyard chickens, loves the movie “Zootopia” and is attached to her mom and dad at the hip.

But really, Braelynn isn’t like most other girls her age at all. She’s at the center of a complicated custody battle, one that could have implications for adoptive families all over the country.

Braelynn is adopted. In December 2016, her adoptive parents were told that their adoption had been vacated and that, with conditions, the state intended to return their daughter to her biological father.

“It breaks our heart. Braelynn is the one at the middle of this,” Ed Dalsing, Braelynn’s adopted father, told ABC's “Nightline.”

Read more here.

March 8, 2017 in Adoption, Custody (parenting plans) | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, February 6, 2017

National Adoption Agency Unexpectedly Closes

From CBS Sacramento:

A nationwide adoption agency abruptly closes their doors and files for bankruptcy leaving hundreds of employees without jobs and nearly 2,000 families with questions.

Independent Adoption Center sent a note to clients and employees announcing the bankruptcy due to a “changing adoption climate.”

Jim Jensen and his wife Candy spent a decade trying to make a family.

Jim says it was like Christmas morning when they adopted two day old Alex six years ago.

They used Independent Adoption Center and had success. Everything was smooth. They were currently on the list for the last three years waiting to give Alex a sibling.

“There are so many kids out there who need a family. We have a lot of love to give,” said Candy, “we just want to complete our family.”

Read more here.

February 6, 2017 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Adoption App Sparks Controversy

From The Observer:

There’s a new app that’s supposed to make adopting kids quick and easy. Like most startups, it’s targeting millennials. The tagline: “Parenthood is just a swipe away.”

As its motto reveals, the app, Adoptly, is just like Tinder. You filter by your preferences (ethnicity, age, gender and distance), swipe left and right and then chat directly with children you match with. But to be clear, it’s not the company who’s dubbed it “Tinder for Adoption”—they denied it was molded after the pioneer swiping app, but the idea of swiping left on kids has the public and especially those in the adoption industry (but more on that later) feeling uneasy.

So it wasn’t a huge surprise when Kickstarter shut down the Adoptly campaign after just a few days. But now the company has relaunched on Indiegogo, and with a smaller goal. This time the team is seeking $100,000 rather than $150,000, and they told the Observer it’s because they’re in the process of closing a deal for VC.

“We feel it’s really unfair that Kickstarter would take down a legitimate idea, like Adoptly, just because some media outlets were debating its validity or felt uncomfortable with such an innovative and disruptive idea. Furthermore, we are really disappointed in Kickstarter for not reaching out to us beforehand,” co-founder Alex Nawrocki told the Observer, adding that Kickstarter suspended the campaign without an explanation or due process.

Read more here.

January 27, 2017 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Why is it so expensive to adopt a child?

From The Washington Post:

Across the world, there are thousands of children in need of homes. In America, there are thousands of families looking for children to adopt. Sounds like a match made in heaven, right?

Until you look at the price tag.

Jonathan and Amanda Teixeira of Denver struggled for a couple of years to conceive before deciding to pursue adoption. After talking to friends who had gone through the process, the staggering price seemed insurmountable.

“It’s infuriating,” Amanda said. “There are probably a lot of children who don’t have a home that would have one if it wasn’t for this ridiculously insane high cost.”

In 2008, the most recent year for which the Child Welfare Information Gateway has statistics, more than 135,000 children were adopted in the United States, including domestic, international and foster care cases. Adoptions can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars — usually a domestic adoption where you privately find birthparents without the help of an agency — to upward of $30,000.

Julie Gumm, author of “You Can Adopt Without Debt,” has adopted two of her children internationally. She was constantly being told by couples that they, too, would be interested in adoption — if only they could afford it. Those conversations inspired her to share her family’s experiences with fundraising for adoptions, rather than diving deep into personal loans.

Read more here.

December 15, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 28, 2016

They Took In One Refugee Family. But Families Don’t Have Borders.

From The New York Times:

Wissam al-Hajj, a Syrian refugee, woke up in the most comfortable home she had ever lived in, an apartment growing increasingly stuffed with toys for her four children. She realized she had slept far more soundly than usual. But when she remembered why, she grew irritated: Her husband, Mouhamad, had hidden the phone from her.

As their older children competed for the first shower, Ms. Hajj recalled the argument from the night before. Her husband had been trying to spare her from an agonizing consequence of their move to Canada: the pleading messages from family members and friends across the Middle East.

“I’m only going to give it to you if you stop talking to them at night,” he had said to her.

“I’m going to start working and buy my own phone,” she had shot back, the threat hollow but deeply felt.

Read more here.

 

October 28, 2016 in Adoption, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New York Expands the Definition of Parent for Unmarried Couples

From Nolo.com:

On August 30, 2016, the New York Court of Appeals issued a landmark decision in In the Matter of Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A.C.C. As a result, New York now recognizes that children may have a second parent not related to them by blood, adoption, or marriage.  

The Brooke S.B. case involved Brooke and Elizabeth—unmarried partners in a lesbian couple—who were engaged to be married in 2007. In 2008, Elizabeth became pregnant through artificial insemination and gave birth to a baby boy. Brooke had no legal or biological ties to the child, but she maintained a close, parental relationship with him for years, which included giving him her last name and raising him jointly with Elizabeth.

The couple separated in 2010, and in 2013, Elizabeth began restricting Brooke’s contact with the child, so Brooke filed for custody.

Read more here.

October 12, 2016 in Adoption, Alternative Reproduction, Cohabitation (live-ins), Custody (parenting plans), Divorce (grounds) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Child Maltreatment History Should Be a Bar to Being a Foster Parent

 From Youth Today:

It’s just common sense: An adult's past criminal history or history of child maltreatment is not to be balanced against the safety of a child. This is not to say a person with any criminal record should be barred as a foster parent, but certainly an applicant with a substantiated history of child maltreatment, no matter how far in the distant past, should be permanently barred.

Foster care agencies have a legitimate reason to inquire about a prospective foster parent’s criminal and child maltreatment history, be it an inquiry, arrest, charge or conviction. Why? Quite simply, the agency seeks to maximize child safety.

In addition, a good background check helps identify a superior applicant while simultaneously reducing the agency’s potential liability. In many states, the agency responsible for approving foster parent licenses is permitted to waive or not even take into account an applicant's child maltreatment or criminal history if the offense happened many years ago or if the agency's internal risk analysis indicates no cause for concern.

Read more here.

August 5, 2016 in Adoption, Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Termination of Parental Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Netflix Original-Tallulah-Takes on the Non-Nuclear Family and Blurred Lines

From LA Weekly:

The Netflix original Tallulah is being released on July 29, 2016. The film's story line involves a young, homeless woman who happens to find herself babysitting a child being neglected by her "woefully inept" mother. The protagonist ultimately takes the child, and the result could be that audiences find themselves deciding whether there are blurred lines involved in kidnapping, rescuing a child, and the implications of a non-nuclear family.

 

Read more here.

July 25, 2016 in Adoption, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Will Brexit affect the UK adoption of Eastern European migrants' children?

From the Guardian:

Ilona, 20, came to Britain from Hungary two years ago to make a better life for herself, and has worked as a hotel chambermaid. An attempt to get a late abortion brought her to the attention of children’s social services. She told social workers that she and her partner did not have the financial means to look after their daughter and were prepared for her to be taken into care and adopted in Britain.

The parents wanted nothing further to do with their child, Annuska, but they did want the best for her and opposed the local authority’s plans to return her to Hungary for adoption or to be looked after by another family member. They didn’t want relatives in Hungary to know about their child or for her to know about her origins and history.

They firmly believe the better life they sought for themselves in Britain should be available to their child. But Hungary regards all children born to Hungarian parents as its nationals and demands the right to decide the fate of those who may be subject to care proceedings or adoption in Britain.

Annuska’s case is far from unique.

Read more here.

July 3, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

California foster parents continue fight for Indian girl

Foster Parents Continued Fight for Custody of Indian Daughter

From Fox News:

The scene was wrenching: A sobbing 6-year-old girl, clutching a stuffed bear as her foster father carries her away from the only home she has known for most of her life.

But Lexi's story didn't end in March when she was removed from a Santa Clarita home near Los Angeles. Her story isn't one of simple emotions but rather complex issues of ethnicity, government, and history.

Lexi, who is 1/64th Choctaw, was placed with distant relatives in Utah under a decades-old federal law designed to keep Native American families together, and under California's Juvenile Dependency Law.

Her foster parents, Rusty and Summer Page, have fought a yearslong battle to keep her.

Read more here.

June 12, 2016 in Adoption, Custody (parenting plans), Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Triplets at Center Of Surrogate Baby Custody Battle Now Living with Biological Dad and 'Doing Fine,' Says Attorney

Surrogate Battles for Custody of Triplet 

From People.com:

The triplets at the center of a custody battle – between the surrogate mom who gave birth to them and their biological father – have left the Los Angeles hospital where they've been kept since their birth in February and are now living at their father's home in Georgia.

"They're doing fine," Robert Walmsley, the father's attorney, tells PEOPLE. "My client is finally getting to raise his kids and he's loving it. He's a happy guy right now."

In March, a Los Angeles judge granted surrogate mom Melissa Cook a temporary stay that prohibited the biological father, identified only as C.M. in court papers, from removing the children from California.

Read more here.

June 7, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

SCOTUS Upholds Adoption by Lesbian in Alabama

From the LA Times:

The Alabama Supreme Court refused to recognize a lesbian woman’s adoption that had occurred in Georgia. The court stated that “Georgia adoption law didn’t allow a ‘non-spouse to adopt a child without first terminating the parental rights of the current parents.’” The woman appealed to the United States Supreme Court. The Court said that the Alabama Supreme Court erred in refusing to grant Georgia’s adoption through the full faith and credit clause.

Read more here.

June 4, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Same-Sex Civil Unions Approved in Italy

From the Economist:

On May 11, 2016, the Italian Parliament approved a law recognizing same-sex civil unions in Italy. The law passed with 372 voting in favor, 51 voting against, and 99 abstaining. The new law grants same-sex couples many of the same rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples; such as, inheritance of their partners pensions and full property inheritance rights. 

The issue was brought to the forefront of Italian legislation when, last year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Italy violated the rights of respect for private and family life by not recognizing same-sex unions. Indeed, the change in the law also reflects changing attitudes about homosexuality in society, particularly Roman Catholic society. Polls show that most Italians still oppose same-sex marriage but are open to civil unions.

While this is a happy moment for homosexuals in Italy, the law still falls short of giving homosexual couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. This includes the right to adopt the children of their partners.

 

 

Read more here.

May 15, 2016 in Adoption, Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Maryland Senate Kills Bill Aimed at Terminating Rapists' Parental Rights

From the Washington Post:

While the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act made it through the Maryland House, it died once again in the Maryland                                            Senate. For nine years, this bill has been repeatedly proposed and has always been killed by either the House or the Senate.

As the law is written today, a woman who is impregnated by the act of rape must obtain consent from her attacker if she wishes to put the baby up for adoption. Furthermore, she might also have to interface with her attacker over issues; such as, custody and visitation. The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act aimed to allow the victim to terminate any parental rights of her attacker.

Read more here.

May 12, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Teens Aging Out of Foster Care Face Difficult Challenges

From CBS Denver:

Every year thousands of teens age out of the fostercare system on their 18th birthday. They are on their own whether they’re ready for it or not. And statistics show they don’t fare well. Many of them end up homeless, unemployed, drug addicted, or in jail. Gordon Davidson faced that same fate.

“It’s a trap. Kids are not prepared to enter life without influence, without guidance, without education,” Davidson said.

After 13 years in foster care, Davidson was kicked out of his foster home on his 18th birthday.

“Within a year I was out on the streets. I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have any people really in my corner that I was able to rely on,” he explained.

Davidson stayed on friends’ couches for a few years while he struggled to get control of his life. Then he found a program called Bridging the Gap at Mile High United Way. The program supports teens who are aging out of foster care.

“We really try to engage each youth and figure out where they are and how with what’s available they can take advantage and really sort of get a grasp on a future,” Davidson told CBS4.

He volunteers for the program now, acting as mentor for other teens who are going through what he went through.

Davidson was able to get a college degree and land a job as an IT Specialist at Mile High United Way.

Read more here.

 

April 18, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Federal Judge Voids Mississippi Ban on Same-Sex Couple Adoptions

From The Washington Post:

A federal judge in Mississippi ordered the state to drop its ban on adoptions by same-sex married couples, saying Wednesday that it doesn’t pass muster under the Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark marriage ruling.

The law was said to be the last of its kind in the U.S. But efforts to skirt the full implementation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges using laws described as “religious freedom acts” remain alive and well in a number of Republican-led states along with measures permitting discrimination against transgender people.

The state’s prohibition on adoption by same-sex couples was enacted in 2000, as state and federal courts began the process of legalizing same-sex marriage, and reads, simply, “Adoption by couples of the same gender is prohibited.”

It was challenged by four lesbian couples wishing to adopt children either privately or through the state’s foster care system.

Judge Daniel P. Jordan III, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, called the state’s defense of the law “tepid,” based mostly on issues of standing, and which agency or part of government could or could not be sued.

April 10, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Transracial Adoption Support Systems Scarce Despite Difficulties

From NBC News:

Catherine Johnston and her husband Paul were living in Oakland, California, when they decided to adopt a child, choosing to adopt from China in part because Paul's family had come from the country. Assuring the Chinese adoption officials that their extended family would provide an ethnically and culturally familiar home back in Oakland put them on the fast track to adoption.

While the exact terms were never spelled out for Johnston, adoption wait times from China for parents with Chinese heritage tend to be a year shorter, and studies have shown that children growing up in an ethnically and culturally-familiar home struggle less with their own ethnic identity.

Johnston, who is white and an adoptee, credits Paul's family for allowing her daughter to grow up avoiding many of those challenges.

"I think I always knew that it is better for the children to be in a same-race environment, and we could provide that," Johnston, who brought her daughter home in 2008, told NBC News. "My daughter is very identified as a Chinese person, and she doesn't seem to have any qualms about that."

Families adopting transracially — when the child and parents are of different races — may immerse the child in the parents' culture while failing to expose them to their own ethnic heritage, leading to a struggle with identity as the child grows and are treated as an outsider.

"Children of color have been historically underserved in adoption and foster care, and it plays out in a number of ways," Beth Hall, executive director and co-founder of Pact, a transracial adoption support organization based in California, told NBC News. "Many of those kids who are placed with white families may or may not understand the contextual meaning of being a person of color in America."

Read more here.

March 25, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)