Family Law Prof Blog

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

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 


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)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Uganda Tightens Foreign Adoption Rules to Thwart Child Trafficking

From Reuters:

Child rights campaigners in Uganda have welcomed a new law that restricts fast-track foreign adoptions in which children - often with living parents - can be whisked overseas in a matter of days.

  Lawmakers passed a bill this week that requires foreigners seeking to adopt children to live in the east African country continuously for at least one year before applying and bars them from the quicker route of claiming legal guardianship.

"This ends the long wait for a proper legal regime that addresses the welfare and rights of our children," said member of parliament Bernard Atiku, who initiated the bill.

Hundreds of Ugandan children have been adopted in recent years by foreigners, mainly Americans, some of whom have sidestepped restrictions by winning guardianship within days and then completing the adoption process back home.

Atiku said several children had been trafficked out of the country with no mechanism in place to trace where they end up or who they end up with.

"Foreigners have been manipulating the guardianship provision to take children out of the country," he said.

A Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation in May 2015 revealed widespread corruption in Uganda's intercountry adoption process with Ugandan parents bribed, tricked or coerced into giving up their children to U.S. citizens and other foreigners.

Demand for children had fueled trafficking rackets and a mushrooming network of unregistered childcare institutions through which children were primed for adoption.


Read more here.

March 17, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Supreme Court Reverses Alabama Court that Denied Lesbian Woman's Adoption

From USA Today:

The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously reversed an Alabama court's refusal to recognize a same-sex adoption.

The justices upheld a challenge brought by an Alabama woman after her state's highest court refused to recognize the adoption she and her former lesbian partner were granted in Georgia.

The couple never married and have since split up. But the case presented a test of an issue that crops up occasionally in state and federal courts since the Supreme Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage: Can gays and lesbians be denied adoption rights?

The case was brought by "V.L.," as she is identified in court papers, against her former partner "E.L.," who gave birth to three children between 2002-04 while the couple was together. To win adoption rights for V.L., they established temporary residency in Georgia.

Now that they have split, E.L. agreed with the Alabama Supreme Court, which ruled in September that Georgia mistakenly granted V.L. joint custody. E.L.'s lawyers argued that "the Georgia court had no authority under Georgia law to award such an adoption, which is therefore void and not entitled to full faith and credit."

Not so, the Supreme Court ruled. "A state may not disregard the judgment of a sister state because it disagrees with the reasoning underlying the judgment or deems it to be wrong on the merits," its reversal said. Rather, Alabama must give "full faith and credit" to the Georgia court's decision.

The high court previously had blocked the Alabama court's action while considering the case, temporarily restoring V.L.'s visitation rights.

Adoption rights for same-sex couples are among the issues remaining in the wake of the high court's June decision legalizing same-sex marriage. About 30 states grant "second-parent adoptions" to gay and lesbian couples by law or lower court rulings. Such adoptions benefit adults who do not share a biological connection, while ensuring that children have two legal parents — particularly in case one dies or is incapacitated.

Read more here.

March 11, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Oklahoma's New Adoption Bill Sparks Controversy

From AOL News:

A bill, passed on to the house floor Tuesday, would require the state to do business with child welfare and adoption agencies - even if they turn down prospective parents because their religious beliefs or morals don't align.

Opponents of the bill said it opens the door for agencies to turn away same-sex or unmarried couples that are looking to adopt children.

"I think [the bill] is a huge step backwards," said Tamera Maresh-Carver, who adopted a son with her now-wife eight years ago. "We look at it and we think: there are families like us that have the ability to give a kid a home. And, we provide a really loving home, and you have kids who really need a home, and it seems like we get in our own way a whole lot of times."

Her wife, Chere Carver, can remember the trouble the couple went through trying to adopt their son, traveling six hours to find a court that would grant the adoption.

Now, she and her wife fear children will be the victims of what they call a discriminatory bill, particularly concerning as they consider adopting another child.

"I think most people who work with the children in the system who need a home are there for the best interest of the child," said Maresh-Carver. "This would be just a huge blow to families across the board."
But, the bill's author tells NewsChannel 4 she wrote the bill to be inclusive,not exclusive.

Rep. Sally Kern (R-Bethany) said the point is to ensure religious-based organizations continue to provide adoption services in the state.

Read more here.

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

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Couple Sues Marin County For Misleading Them Into Adopting Disturbed Child

From San Jose Mercury News:

Accusing the county of betraying their trust, a San Rafael couple has filed suit, claiming adoption fraud in which they said the county intentionally misled them into adopting a disturbed child who may require around-the-clock care.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Janet and Simon Boddington alleges a county worker withheld an investigator's report that raised red flags and did not disclose why another family had abandoned guardianship of the child.

The suit accuses the county of coming up with a "match" for the couple just as the two were considering abandoning adoption plans after turning down scores of prospects they feared would not be a good fit. The Boddingtons, who had already raised five children, said they had an agreement with the county that noted they would not accept a child with severe psychological problems.

The child, adopted six year ago, is now 14 and so unmanageable he cannot be left unsupervised and lives at a residential facility during the week, coming home on weekends.

County lawyers declined comment on the lawsuit, noting strict statutes compel absolute confidentiality in the case involving adoption, child welfare and medical records. 

Kimberly Contreras, a county adoption worker named in the lawsuit, could not be reached for comment.

Read more here.



January 21, 2016 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

N.Y. Couple Try to Find Triplet Sons Adopted in Kansas in 1972

From NBC News:

A couple forced as teens to give up their triplet sons are on a quest to find them, with the help of social media sleuths.

Cynthia and Brian Bush got married and raised three more children after the 1972 adoption — but never stopped wondering about the three baby boys.

"It's a sense of giving me some closure," Cynthia Bush, 61, said of the search the family launched this month. "I've lived with this for so many years."

The Bushes' daughter, Christina Wilcox, is trying to help her parents be reunited with the triplets by posting details of the birth on Facebook — where it has been shared nearly 5,000 times.

Clues have started pouring in, and the family has already learned that while they thought the boys were adopted together, they actually may have gone to separate homes.

"It sounds corny but I always felt I've had something missing in my life and I wonder if that's what it is," Wilcox said.

Read more here.


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

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Slovenia Votes Against Same-Sex Marriage and Same-Sex Child Adoption

From New Europe:

Slovenes overwhelmingly voted against same-sex marriage and child adoption. With 90% of votes counted on Sunday’s referendum, same-sex legislation introduced by the government earlier this week was resoundingly defeated by 63-37%.

On Sunday, December 20th, 1,7 million Slovenes went to the polls, in the predominantly Catholic post-Yugoslav Republic.

The Referendum was a reaction to the amendment passed on the marriage and family relations act on March 2015, redefining marriage from “a union between a man and a woman” to the union between “two consenting adults.”

Same-sex couples in Slovenia have rights equivalent to marriage, but the government intended to reintroduce legislation that would allow them to adopt children as well. That was a right already denied to same-sex couples in 2012.

The government abstained from campaigning.

Initially, campaigners managed to gather enough signatures to hold a referendum that would override legislation introduced by the government in March; the government then tried to bloc the referendum, suggesting that a human rights issues are not a matter of majority-minority relations; finally, the Constitutional Court forced the parliament to hold a referendum.

Read more here.

December 27, 2015 in Adoption, Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Utah Couple to Stop Adoption, Returns Baby to Biological Mother

From KUTV News:

A Utah couple has decided not to go through with an adoption after the baby's biological father alleged the adoption was happening against his will.

But this fight is far from over.

Colby Nielsen, 20, of Lewiston, Utah, told 2News last week he was forced to hand over his two-week-old child, Kaylee, to prospective adoptive parents despite the fact that he wanted to raise the girl himself.

"I'd do anything I could for her," Nielsen told 2News Friday, adding that his family hired an attorney to get the baby returned.

Now, the adoptive couple says they will return the baby to the biological mother and relinquish any custodial rights.

"We believe the couple, if unfettered by legality and other pressures, will be able to decide what is best for Kaylee," said the couple, who asked not to be named due to the amount of backlash they have received from this situation. "This is how the situation should have always been resolved.

"Nielsen alleged the 19-year old mother - his former girlfriend - began the adoption process with little or no notice to him.  But the former adoptive parents, who also live in northern Utah, told 2News that is not true.

Read more here.

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

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Researchers Study Willingness to Adopt Children with Special Needs

From Phys.Org:

Queen's University researchers Philip Burge and Dianne Groll (Psychiatry) and two co-authors have just published a study regarding the attitudes and preferences of prospective adoptive parents. The study found that those who were most open to considering children with special needs had been formally seeking to adopt for some time and had completed government-required SAFE assessments and training.

The report entitled, Making Choices: Adoption seekers' preferences and available children with special needs, explores the willingness of prospective adoptive parents in Ontario to adopt children with abuse experiences and various degrees of behavioral disorders, learning and /or physical disabilities among other factors.

"Finding adoptive parents for child wards with special needs has long been a challenge. Notwithstanding some recent minor improvements in government policy, serious challenges still remain in placing thousands of child wards with special needs in permanent adoptive homes or guardianship arrangements," says Dr. Burge.

The study examined the preferences and attitudes of 5,830 AdoptOntario online registrants between May 2009 and February 2012. The registrants were classified as "public users," "prospective adoptive parents," or "adoption ready," based on their stage in the adoption application process, and were asked a number of questions to determine their preferences in child characteristics for adoption. The categories included questions on adopting older children, sibling groups, or children with any of the 20 most common special needs referred by child welfare agencies.

Read more here.

November 28, 2015 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)