Family Law Prof Blog

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

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Child-Trafficking in China

From the BBC:

Police in China say they have rescued nearly 200 children after uncovering two child-trafficking gangs.

More than 600 people were arrested in raids in 10 Chinese provinces.

A BBC correspondent in Beijing says the staggering numbers in the investigation reveal the scale of the country's child-trafficking problem.

Critics blame China's one-child policy and lax adoption laws, which they say have created a thriving underground market for buying children.

Read more here.



December 27, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Adoption Fundraising Website

From the Republic:

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — A Middle Tennessee couple has started a website to connect families who want to adopt with vendors who can help them raise money for the endeavor.

Troy and Amber Lucht of Murfreesboro said they decided to create the site after adopting an Ethiopian boy three years ago. Shortly after bringing him home, they decided to adopt again but needed to raise money for all the expenses and thought about other families who needed help financially with the process.

Troy, who is an Internet developer, came up with the idea to create as a way to help other families raise enough money to adopt, according to The Daily News Journal (  The site connects families to vendors who are interested in helping.

Read more here.



December 20, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Adoption Credits for Same-Sex Couples

From the New York Times:

Since the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage, such couples are viewed as strangers in many spheres of their financial lives. They need to file separate federal tax returns, for instance.  And sometimes, that can come with certain advantages.

Take the adoption tax credit.  If you adopt your spouse’s child, you cannot claim the credit. But since same-sex married couples are not considered spouses under federal law, they are permitted to use the credit — at least until their unions are recognized.

So when several lesbians seeking to adopt a partner’s child received letters from the Internal Revenue Service that said they could not use the credit, they couldn’t help but wonder: Is the government choosing to recognize our unions only when it’s to the government’s benefit?

As it turns out, the I.R.S. keeps close tabs on many refundable credits: The adoption credit is refundable in 2010 and 2011, which means that the credit reduces the amount of tax you owe, dollar for dollar. And if the amount of the credit exceeds your tax bill, you get to collect that extra cash. Because it’s such an enticing break, it’s also ripe for abuse.

As a result, the I.R.S. conducted more audits by mail last year, and required many couples — gay and heterosexual — to provide more documentation. (In fact, 68 percent of the nearly 100,000 returns on which taxpayers claimed the adoption credit were audited by mail, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office, which reviewed the I.R.S.’s strategy to ensure taxpayers were rightfully claiming the credit.)

Read more here.


December 15, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"You can’t choose your sons, but you can choose your sons-in-law"

From the Freakonomics blog:

What happens when the heir to a family business isn’t up to the job? Not great things, apparently. But the Japanese have a solution: adult adoption. Rather than hand the firm to a less-than-worthy blood heir, Japanese families often adopt an adult to take over. This tradition is the subject of Vikas Mehrotra‘s paper “Adoptive Expectations: Rising Sons in Japanese Family Firms,” which is featured in our latest podcast and hour-long Freakonomics Radio special “The Church of Scionology.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player, or read the transcript here.) 

America and Japan have the highest rates of adoption in the world – with one big difference. While the vast majority of adoptees in the U.S. are children, they account for just 2% of adoptions in Japan. The other 98% are males around 25 to 30. Mehrotra believes this is the key to one of Japan’s unique differences. Across the developed world, family firms under-perform professionally-run businesses. But in Japan, it’s the opposite. Japan’s strongest companies are led by scions, many of them adopted. “If you compare the performance under different kinds of heirs, blood heirs versus adopted heirs, the superior performance of second-generation managed firms is pretty much entirely attributable to the adopted heir firms.”

Read more here.


November 23, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

National Adoption Day

From the Sacramento Bee:

National Adoption Day 2011 will be held on Saturday, November 19. Celebrated across the United States, more than 350 community events are held each year to finalize the adoptions of children in foster care and celebrate adoptive families.

This year, National Adoption Day will include events ranging from courtroom adoptions to local celebrations, in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. Thanks to the volunteer efforts of adoption advocates, policymakers, judges and lawyers, more than 35,000 children have been adopted from foster care on National Adoption Day during the last 11 years.

Read more here.


November 19, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jurisdiction for Certain Adoption Proceedings

From the StarTribune:

Adoption proceedings for an Indian child whose parents' rights were terminated must take place within state courts, not tribal courts, the Minnesota Supreme Court ordered Wednesday.

In the 4-2 decision, the court reversed two earlier orders granting the White Earth Band of Ojibwe permission to handle the child's adoption within its tribal court.

In its order, the Supreme Court reasoned that under the Indian Child Welfare Act, tribal authority is limited to foster care placement and termination of parental rights -- not adoptive placement.

Read more here.


November 8, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Adoption in Glee Misleading

From USA Today:

More than 2,600 people are asking Fox TV and its hit series Glee (Tuesdays, 8 p.m. ET/PT) to air public service announcements about the reality of adoption, arguing the show's current story line perpetuates "harmful" myths.

Amber Austin, who adopted a baby boy last year, began an online petition after watching Glee's Sept. 27 episode, in which Quinn (Dianna Agron) vows to get her baby girl back after placing her for adoption. Glee returns Tuesday after a two-week hiatus.

"What really bothers me," Austin says, is the suggestion that birth mothers can simply take back a child.

Read more here.


November 3, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Nevada Receives Adoption Recognition

From the Nevada Appeal:

The federal Department of Health and Human Services has doubled its adoption program grant to Nevada's Division of Child and Family Services as a reward for increasing the number of children adopted from foster care.

Where last year's award was less than $500,000, this year's total is $995,455 based on 652 finalized adoptions statewide.

DCFS Administrator Diane Comeaux said the money will help finalize adoptions of older youths and the medically fragile.

Under the federal rules, states get $4,000 for every child adopted over and above their best year's total, plus $8,000 for every child aged 9 and older and $4,000 for every special-needs child adopted.

Read more here.


October 29, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Only 60 Babies Adopted in England Last Year

Unbelievable news from the Independent:

Only 60 babies were adopted in England last year – startling evidence of how Britain's system for adopting children is grinding to a halt despite record numbers being taken into care.

Thousands of children are being held in limbo in care homes, secure units and temporary fostering because so few adoptions are being signed off by social workers. Their guidance has been to try to keep families together, which has also led to some children being left with negligent or abusive birth parents for too long.

The number of adoptions of babies under the age of one has fallen from 150 in 2007 – and around 4,000 in 1976. Prospects for adopted babies are considered strong, as they have fewer difficulties bonding with new parents.

Read more here.



October 26, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chinese Officials Fired for Adoption-Process Violations

From the New York Times:

Twelve government employees have been fired and stripped of their Communist Party membership after an investigation into allegations that family planning officials kidnapped children in an impoverished rural area in the southern Chinese province of Hunan, People’s Daily, the party’s official newspaper, reported Thursday.


In a scandal that has drawn widespread coverage, parents and grandparents claim that officials from Longhui, a county that is administered by Shaoyang, illegally seized at least 16 children between 1999 and 2006 because of allegations that family planning rules were violated. Caixin Century Weekly, a Chinese magazine,  reported in May that some were later adopted by foreigners.

Read more here.


October 8, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Adoption in VA

From Pilot Online:

Gay rights advocates notched a victory Wednesday when the State Board of Social Services agreed to allow more time for public comment on proposed state adoption standards that lack protection against discrimination against gays and some other prospective parents.

But the extra 30 days granted by the board may do little more than delay the approval of the regulations, which govern private child placement agencies licensed by the state.

The extended comment period will begin next month and continue through Oct. 12, about one week before the next board meeting.

From there, the board has the option to approve the regulations as is or amend them.

Read more here.


August 22, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Adult Adoptions


Adult adoptions appear to be rising in America, according to Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of the National Council For Adoption. The advocacy group is the only organization that tallies the number of domestic adoptions taking place in the U.S., said Johnson, though it does not specifically track adult adoptions. Statistics are difficult to compile, experts say, because many states still mandate that adoption court records are sealed and confidential.

“But anecdotally, it does seem to be occurring more frequently,” Johnson said. The most common scenario he sees: former foster children — now adults — who are being adopted by their long-time foster parents. In rare cases, adoption experts say, adults who have lost or are estranged from their biological parents befriend older people who begin to feel like mothers and fathers — and they ultimately seek to legalize that emotional attachment.

Read more here.



July 25, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kanoy: "The Effectiveness of the Internal Revenue Code's Adoption Tax Credit: Fostering the Nation's Future?"

From Paul Caron's Tax LawProf Blog:

Leah Carson Kanoy (LL.M. (Tax) 2011, Florida) has published Note, The Effectiveness of the Internal Revenue Code's Adoption Tax Credit: Fostering the Nation's Future?, 21 U. Fla. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 201 (2010). Here is the Conclusion:

The adoption tax credit was designed to further two congressional objectives: to reduce financial barriers to all adoptions and to encourage the adoption of special needs children, such as those in the foster care system. Unfortunately, the adoption credit of I.R.C. § 23 is expensive and has been unsuccessful at achieving the congressional goal of promoting adoptions from foster care. For the credit to successfully incentivize foster care adoptions, it must be structured in a way that it is accessible to lower-income taxpayers who do not have the requisite tax liability to claim the credit. This can be achieved by transforming the current credit into a refundable credit. With the sunset date quickly approaching, Congress must determine whether it should continue to allow millions in forgone revenue without the corresponding desired result, or whether it should consider implementing new spending alternatives that would effectively promote its objectives.


July 13, 2011 in Adoption, Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

RI Birth Certificate Access


PROVIDENCE — For the third year in a row, the House unanimously approved a bill to allow adults who were adopted to obtain copies of their original birth certificates, clearing the way for action in the Senate.

Read more here.


July 13, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Intercountry Adoptions

From the Washington Times:

NEW YORK, June 10, 2011 — The past month has been ripe with changes for Americans interested in international adoption.  Three countries—Ukraine, Mexico and the Democratic Republic of Congo—have issued new regulations that are expected to dramatically restrict and reduce intercountry adoption.

Read more here.


June 25, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Florida has a novel plan to increase adoptions of foster children.  Read about it here.


May 17, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Appleton & Pollak: "Exploring the Connections between Adoption and IVF: Twibling Analyses"

Susan Appleton (Wash. Univ. School of Law St. Louis) & Robert Pollak (Wash. Univ. Saint Louis Buss. School) have posted "Exploring the Connections between Adoption and IVF: Twibling Analyses" (95 Minn. L. Rev. Headnotes 60 (2011)) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This essay responds to Trading-Off Reproductive Technology and Adoption: Does Subsidizing IVF Decrease Adoption Rates and Should It Matter?, in which I. Glenn Cohen and Daniel L. Chen analyze what they describe as an arm-chair principle called “the substitution theory”–the claim that facilitating treatment for infertility, including subsidizing in vitro fertilization (IVF), decreases adoptions. Cohen and Chen venture well beyond the arm chair, closely interrogating the substitution theory both normatively and empirically and concluding, contrary to the substitution theory, that IVF subsidies do not decrease and might actually increase adoptions.

Returning to the arm chair, this Response offers two different perspectives. First, we use a family law lens to focus on important elements of Cohen and Chen’s analysis, both explicit and implicit, including adoption, IVF, genetic connections, reproductive autonomy, and gender. We show how these elements are shaped by the authors’ assumptions, prevailing legal principles, and our culture more generally. Next, we use an economic lens to reveal how mandated subsidies for IVF produce varied conduct, depending on the preferences and resources of those who would consider adoption and IVF. Approaching Cohen and Chen’s analysis from these two different vantage points demonstrates that arm-chair theorizing, properly done, can illuminate the relationship between IVF and adoption.


May 15, 2011 in Adoption, Alternative Reproduction, Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Troubling Adoptions

From the Chicago Tribune:

The "Baby Tamia" case shined a light on the unregulated corners of for-profit adoption and sparked a new law, ensuring that adoption was about building families, not making money.

Some six years later, the Adoption Reform Act has gone a long way in shutting down shady operators, but the Internet has opened up troubling new loopholes, say child welfare advocates.

"The Internet and adoption is like the Wild West," said Adam Pertman, director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute, a research and advocacy organization. "Stuff is happening out there that no one is moderating, regulating or paying attention to."

Read more here.


April 23, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

U.S. 5th Circuit Rules Against Gay Dads in Birth Certificate Case

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled, on en banc rehearing, against two men who legally adopted a child in New York and then sought a Louisiana birth certificate for the Louisiana-born child listing both of them as fathers.  The court held that neither equal protection nor full faith and credit required Louisiana to change their birth certificate practice to recognize the adoption.

Read the lengthy opinion and multiple concurrences and dissents here.  Download Adar v. Smith.


April 13, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Conservative VA Governor Weighs Gay Adoption

From the Washington Post:

Republican Gov. Robert F. McDonnell is considering whether to try to derail proposed regulations developed by his Democratic predecessor that would for the first time allow gay couples to adopt children in Virginia.

McDonnell has less than two weeks to act on the regulations that would force state-licensed private and church-run agencies to allow unmarried couples — heterosexual or homosexual — to adopt children.

Conservatives, including Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), are lobbying McDonnell to ask the State Board of Social Services to kill the proposal because they do not think it is healthy for gay couples to raise children.

Marshall said that he considers the change part of a “radical anti-family proposal” and that he does not even think single people should adopt, which is currently allowed by law. “Children need a mother and a father,” he said.

Eric Finkbeiner, McDonnell’s policy director, said that the governor was considering his options but in general “supports and encourages” adoption of children by married couples and single parents.

McDonnell must make his recommendation to the State Board of Social Services, a nine-member panel in which all but four members are holdovers from his Democratic predecessor, by April 16.

Kaine, who is expected to run for U.S. Senate next year, proposed the change to the regulations in November 2009, less than two months before he left the office to become the full-time chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Currently, only married couple and single men and women — regardless of sexual orientation — can adopt in Virginia. The proposal, according to the governor’s office, would mandate that gay singles and unmarried couples be able to access faith-based groups, such as Catholic Charities and Jewish Family Services, to adopt children.

Read more here.


April 6, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)