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Changes Proposed to Simplify Adoptions

Bills aim to shorten waiting periods, make the process easier BY TAMMIE SMITH TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Click Here to View This Article as a PDF

An attorney who handles adoptions, Colleen Marea Quinn sometimes has a case where the mother has no idea where the father is. All the mother may know is his first name and where they met. But for adoption to take place, attempts have to Read More

Your Mother Would Know

By Carol Barbieri

November 29, 2005 Op-Ed Contributor | Atlantic Highlands, N.J.

"It's been 14 years, but I can still feel the terror that gripped me when our son's cardiologist asked my husband and me if Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome ran in our family. Getting my husband's family medical history was as simple as calling his mother. But I'm adopted: I didn't know who in my family may have had this heart condition, and Read More

8 Myths and Realities About Adoption

8 Myths and Realities About Adoption

Click Here to View the Entire Document As a PDF

MYTH There are very few babies being placed for adoption in the U.S. REALITY 20,000 or more U.S.-born infants are placed for adoption each year—more than the number of international adoptions yearly.

MYTH Adoption is outrageously expensive, out of reach for most families. REALITY Adoption is often no more expensive than giving birth. Costs to adopt domestically average

Read More

Birthmother Choices and Adoptive Parent Issues2004 Adoptive Families Magazine

Dont' Expect to Recover Money Spent on Birthmother Living Expenses by Colleen M. Quinn

From 2004 Adoptive Families Magazine

"Q: If a prospective birthmother decides not place her baby with us for adoption, can we get back the money we paid for her living expenses during the pregnancy?

A: The expenses that prospective parents can pay in connection with an adoption are regulated by state law, and vary from

Read More

How to Be an Adoption Advocate

Road-Tested Tips for Families By Katherine Mikkelson

from Adoptive Families Magazine, July/August 2003

"As an attorney, I used to advocate for my clients. But when I left work at the end of the day, my cases and my lawyering skills stayed at the office. A few years ago, however—about the time Zack, my oldest, entered preschool—I noticed that my professional skills had crossed over into my dealings with friends,

Read More

Wrongful Adoption: What It Is, What It Is Not

After we adopted our daughter, we discovered that she had significant medical problems. We think our adoption agency was aware of this but didn’t tell us. Is there anything we can do? By Sam Totaro

From 2003 Adoptive Families Magazine.

"In the vast majority of cases, adopted children do not have any significant impairment, and adjust well. But occasionally placements turn out to be disastrous. In some of those

Read More

The Truth About Domestic Adoption

The Truth About Domestic Adoption

I keep hearing that adopting in the U.S. is rare, expensive, and risky. The statistics—and my own experience— argue otherwise. by Eliza Newlin Carney

From 2003 Adoptive Families Magazine.

"Not long after my husband and I adopted our infant daughter, we went to a summer barbecue where we met another couple with a young child. When it came up that we had adopted Beth domestically at birth, they were unbelieving. “We Read More

When You Adopt Under the Laws of Another Country

U.S. Readoption Explained by Peter Wiernicki

from Adoptive Families Magazine, May/June 2002

Q: My husband and I just completed an international adoption. Is it necessary for us to readopt our child in the United States?

A: Most adoption professionals recommend that adoptive parents readopt their child if their state permits them to do so. Readoption is the legal process of adopting a child again in the United States,

Read More

It’s The Law: Health Insurance for Adopted Children

It’s The Law: Health Insurance for Adopted Children

BY MARK T. MCDERMOTT

Click HERE to View the Entire Article As a PDF

Q: Our health insurance carrier is refusing to provide coverage for the medical expenses incurred shortly after our newly adopted child was born. Is there any law that controls such situations?

A: As a result of Federal and state legislation that has been in place for several years now, discrimination by

Read More

The Top 10 Secrets of Successful Adoption Travel

"The adoption trip is a defining moment in a family's life, the event that brings parent and child together at last.

Virtually all adoptive parents travel to meet their new child, to a nearby city, to another state, or to a distant country. The adoption trip is a defining moment in a family’s life, the event that brings parent and child together at last. This event usually takes place in Read More

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Changes Proposed to Simplify Adoptions


Bills aim to shorten waiting periods, make the process easier
BY TAMMIE SMITH
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Click Here to View This Article as a PDF

An attorney who handles adoptions, Colleen Marea Quinn sometimes has a case where the mother has no idea where the father is.

All the mother may know is his first name and where they met.

But for adoption to take place, attempts have to be made to find him and give him time to object. “If we don’t know where he is but have a name, we can do an order of publication in a newspaper, which has to run for four weeks,” Quinn said.

They also try searching computer databases and occasionally hire a private investigator.

“The adopting parents pay for that ultimately,” said Quinn, who is with the firm Cantor Arkema P.C.

That requirement and others slow down the adoption process.

To streamline the adoption process, Virginia legislators are considering a number of bills recommended by a study group that spent several months last year looking at Virginia adoption law.

As of December, there were 1,655 children in Virginia who social-services officials hoped would find adoptive homes. Of that number, 889 were legally free to be adopted.

Some of the proposed bills simply “clean up” the adoption statutes in the state code, for instance, putting them in one section rather than scattered throughout.

Other changes calls for more substantial changes in policy.

For instance, to deal with the issue of men who can’t be found, a putative-father registry would be created. The registry would put the onus on men who might be the fathers to notify the state of their whereabouts. Men who register would be notified if a child they may have fathered is put up for adoption.

A putative father is a man who is generally believed to be a child’s father but has not been legally determined to be so.

In some places, such registries are part of laws called the National Proud Father Act because they allow men to actively take responsibility for children they father.

“We have had cases where the birth mother moved to another state to try to avoid the birth father being part of the process,” Quinn said.

“Most birth moms are honest. But we also have the issue of a birth mom signing an affidavit of unknown paternity saying ‘I don’t know who he is,’ but she really does know. She just does not want for him to be part of the process.” On the other side, putative father registries make it easier to terminate the right of the birth father if he is not registered, Quinn said.

Some other proposals:

– Shorten some waiting times. For instance, the time a birth mother has to change her mind after consenting to the adoption would change to a total of 10 days. Currently, a woman cannot legally consent to give up a child for adoption until the baby is at least 10 days old, and then she has 15 days to change her mind, so there are at least 25 days before consent is irrevocable. Create a mutual-consent registry, which would allow birth parents, adoptees who have reached 21 and siblings to register and be notified if any are seeking information about any other.

– Clear up provisions dealing with abandoned children for whom neither parent is available to grant consent for adoption.

– Allow birth fathers to consent to adoption prior to a child’s birth but still give them 10 days after the child is born to revoke that consent.

– Create a hybrid type of adoption that allows women to place their children with an adoption agency and chose the adopting family but keep some aspects of their lives private. Now, women who want to select a family to do the adopting have to do parental placement adoptions, which are open adoptions in which both sides know who the other is.

“What we are trying to do is have a code that . . . encourages people to adopt more children,” said Vickie Johnson-Scott, director of the Division of Family Services at the state Department of Social Services. “We want every child to have a home and a loving family.”

In fiscal year 2005 in Virginia, the state Department of Social Services recorded 540 public adoptions and 72 private adoptions.

State social-services figures show the average time a child is in foster care waiting for an adoptive home is 37.8 months.

That time varies with the age of the child.

Contact staff writer Tammie Smith at tlsmith@timesdispatch.com or (804) 649-6572.
This story can be found at:
http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD/MGArticle/RTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1137833915651

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Your Mother Would Know


By Carol Barbieri

November 29, 2005
Op-Ed Contributor | Atlantic Highlands, N.J.

“It’s been 14 years, but I can still feel the terror that gripped me when our son’s cardiologist asked my husband and me if Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome ran in our family.

Getting my husband’s family medical history was as simple as calling his mother. But I’m adopted: I didn’t know who in my family may have had this heart condition, and it wouldn’t be easy to find out.

And yet, my medical history was crucial to treating our son. If the syndrome did not run in my family, the doctor counseled that my son would run an elevated risk of sudden death, and she’d be inclined to perform the corrective operation right away. But its rate of success at the time was just 50 percent. She was hoping she could postpone the operation for a few years until surgeons grew better at the procedure. The difference could mean life or death.” – From the Article

Click Here to View the Full Article as a PDF

8 Myths and Realities About Adoption


Click Here to View the Entire Document As a PDF

MYTH There are very few babies being placed for adoption in the U.S.
REALITY 20,000 or more U.S.-born infants are placed for adoption each year—more than the number of international adoptions yearly.

MYTH Adoption is outrageously expensive, out of reach for most families.
REALITY Adoption is often no more expensive than giving birth. Costs to adopt domestically average $15,000, before the $10,000 Adoption Tax Credit and benefits that many employers offer.

MYTH It takes years to complete an adoption.
REALITY The average time span of adoption is one to two years. The majority of domestic and international
adopters who responded to a recent poll by Adoptive Families Magazine completed their adoptions in less than a year.

MYTH Birthparents can show up at any time to reclaim their child.
REALITY Once an adoption is finalized, the adoptive family is recognized as the child’s family by law. Despite the publicity surrounding a few high-profile cases, post-adoption revocations are extremely rare.

MYTH Birthparents are all troubled teens.
REALITY Most birthparents today are over 18, but lack the resources to care for a child. It is generally with courage and love for their child that they terminate their parental rights.

MYTH Adopted children are more likely to be troubled than birth children.
REALITY Research shows that adoptees are as well-adjusted as their non-adopted peers. There is virtually no difference in psychological functioning between them.

MYTH Open adoption causes problems for children.
REALITY Adoptees are not confused by contact with their birthparents. They benefit from the increased understanding that their birthparents gave them life but their forever families take care of and nurture them.

MYTH Parents can’t love an adopted child as much as they would a biological child.

REALITY Love and attachment are not the result of nor guaranteed by biology. The intensity of bonding and depth of emotion are the same, regardless of how the child joined the family.

Click Here to View the Entire Document As a PDF

Copyright ©2004 Adoptive Families Magazine; permission is granted to
reproduce this page for educational, not-for-profit purposes. For more
information, visit Adoptive Families online: http://www.adoptivefamilies.com.
To subscribe to Adoptive Families Magazine, call 800-372-3300.

Birthmother Choices and Adoptive Parent Issues2004 Adoptive Families Magazine


Dont’ Expect to Recover Money Spent on Birthmother Living Expenses

by Colleen M. Quinn

From 2004 Adoptive Families Magazine

Q: If a prospective birthmother decides not place her baby with us for adoption, can we get back the money we paid for her living expenses during the pregnancy?

A: The expenses that prospective parents can pay in connection with an adoption are regulated by state law,
and vary from state to state. (See a summary of state law concerning payment of birth mother expenses at: http://www.adoptivefamilies.com adoptionlaws .) In most states, adoptive parents can pay a birth family’s reasonable medical, legal, and counseling expenses. Many also permit some assistance with living expenses (usually within specific guidelines).” – From the Article

Click Here to View the Full Article as a PDF

How to Be an Adoption Advocate


Road-Tested Tips for Families

By Katherine Mikkelson

from Adoptive Families Magazine, July/August 2003

“As an attorney, I used to advocate for my clients. But when I left work at the end of the day, my cases and my lawyering skills stayed at the office. A few years ago, however—about the time Zack, my oldest, entered preschool—I noticed that my professional skills had crossed over into my dealings with friends, neighbors, and others in the community. I was becoming an adoption advocate. You don’t have to be an adoption professional to take on this role. Every time you educate or enlighten someone, you are advocating adoption.” – From the Article – Click below to read more!

Click here to View the Full Article as a PDF

Wrongful Adoption: What It Is, What It Is Not


After we adopted our daughter, we discovered that she had significant medical problems. We think our adoption agency was aware of this but didn’t tell us. Is there anything we can do?

By Sam Totaro

From 2003 Adoptive Families Magazine.

“In the vast majority of cases, adopted children do not have any significant impairment, and adjust well. But occasionally placements turn out to be disastrous. In some of those cases, adoption agencies or professionals, either intentionally or negligently, failed to make a good faith effort to identify all of the medical and/or social background information available regarding the adopted child and his or her birth family, and then to divulge that information to prospective adoptive parents. The courts have started to address these issues by allowing lawsuits, commonly referred to as ‘wrongful adoption.’ ” – From the Article

Click Here to View the Full Article as a PDF

The Truth About Domestic Adoption


I keep hearing that adopting in the U.S. is rare, expensive, and risky. The statistics—and my own experience— argue otherwise.

by Eliza Newlin Carney

From 2003 Adoptive Families Magazine.

“Not long after my husband and I adopted our infant daughter, we went to a summer barbecue where we met another couple with a young child. When it came up that we had adopted Beth domestically at birth, they were unbelieving. “We thought that didn’t happen,” they objected, seemingly incredulous that our family could exist at all.” – From the Article

Click Here to View the Full Article as a PDF

When You Adopt Under the Laws of Another Country


U.S. Readoption Explained

by Peter Wiernicki

from Adoptive Families Magazine, May/June 2002

Q: My husband and I just completed an international adoption. Is it necessary for us to readopt our child in the United States?

A: Most adoption professionals recommend that adoptive parents readopt their child if their state permits them to do so. Readoption is the legal process of adopting a child again in the United States, after the child has been lawfully adopted in another country. In a readoption, the adoptive parents, once back in the U.S., petition the appropriate court in their state of residence to adopt their child under the laws of their state. ” – From the Article – Click Below to Read More!

Click Here to View the Full Article as a PDF

It’s The Law: Health Insurance for Adopted Children


BY MARK T. MCDERMOTT

Click HERE to View the Entire Article As a PDF

Q: Our health insurance carrier is refusing to provide coverage for the medical expenses incurred shortly after our newly adopted child was born. Is there any law that controls such situations?

A: As a result of Federal and state legislation that has been in place for several years now, discrimination by health insurance carriers against adopted children is prohibited in most situations. Prior to 1993, numerous problems existed. For example, insurance carriers would delay coverage until an arbitrary date, such as the finalization of the adoption in court. Another problem resulted when carriers excluded coverage for pre-existing conditions.

The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA’93), Public Law 103-66, amended the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The amended law requires that any group health plan which provides coverage for dependent children must provide benefits to a child placed for adoption under the same terms and conditions as apply to a child who is the biologic child of a plan participant. OBRA’93 specifically eliminated any requirement that the adoption be finalized in court before there is coverage. The new law also prohibits carriers from restricting coverage of adopted children on the basis of a preexisting condition. The changes implemented by OBRA’93 apply to the medical benefit plans of all employers subject to ERISA. Since ERISA covers almost all employers except government employers, OBRA’93 provided broad coverage to families with adopted children.

Even the above gap in coverage has been closed. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), Public Law 104-91, which also amended ERISA, extended the prohibition against discrimination to governmental employers. As a result, health insurance coverage for adopted children is now available to all families covered by group health plans as soon as those families assume financial responsibility for the child.

Several other things were accomplished by HIPAA. For example, HIPAA mandates that group health plans must offer the employee the right to enroll the new child in the plan immediately. Under prior law, immediate enrollment was sometimes not possible if the adopted child joined the family at a time when the employee was not eligible to elect coverage, i.e. when it was not “open season.”

Except in a small number of states that have special new laws, adoptive parents cannot purchase coverage for the birth mother’s medical expenses because she is not a dependent of the adoptive parents. The insurance coverage discussed in this article only covers the separate medical expenses of the child. If the adoptee is a newborn, he or she will have a medical bill, separate from the birthmother’s, reflecting the expenses incurred for the child’s care at the hospital from the time of birth until the child is discharged from the hospital. Those expenses are the ones which will be covered by the adoptive parent’s carrier. Under the law, as amended by OBRA’93 and HIPAA, coverage does not commence until the time of “placement.” The term placement, however, is defined in the statute as the time when the adoptive parent assumes financial responsibility.

Health insurance plans that are not employer-sponsored plans (i.e. individual plans) are not subject to Federal regulation. Those plans are regulated by state law. Fortunately, many states have their own laws that prohibit discrimination against adopted children in connection with health insurance. If you are covered by an individual plan, you should check the laws of your own state to determine your rights.

Mark T. McDermott, J.D., is a Washington,
DC attorney. He is a past president of the
American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and
currently serves as the Academy’s Legislative
Chairman. He is also an adoptive parent.

Click HERE to View the Entire Article As a PDF

The Top 10 Secrets of Successful Adoption Travel


“The adoption trip is a defining moment in a family’s life,
the event that brings parent and child together at last.

Virtually all adoptive parents travel to meet their new child, to a nearby city, to another state, or to a distant country. The adoption trip is a defining moment in a family’s life, the event that brings parent and child together at last. This event usually takes place in unfamiliar surroundings, which makes it all the more memorable—and stressful. Adoptive Families asked veteran adoptive parents, those who have made the journey and lived to tell the tale, for their best travel advice, suggestions that go beyond packing lists and sightseeing recommendations. They came up with a collection of ideas that are wise—and sometimes surprising.” – From the article by Carrie Howard for Adoptive Families Magazine.

Click Here to View the Full Article as a PDF

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