Family Lawyer Adoption Cases Are The Most Rewarding Work

As a Family Lawyer, adoptions are the most consistently rewarding work I do. I love being able to facilitate bringing a family together rather than the disentangling I do more often in divorces.

I have always thought of adoption cases as being universally positive. Straightforward celebrations. An uncomplicated positive aspect of my law practice.

So it was interesting for me to read this Modern Love Column, and to listen to the podcast delving further into the story about the perspective of the birth mother and the challenges associated with an open adoption. I was in tears listening to the emotional impact associated with giving up a child, and the complications that continue years after the fact when the birth mother and the adoptive mother are both committed to loving their son, and honoring the other’s role in his life.

It was also interesting to think about the very human, emotional challenges associated with open adoptions. In an open adoption, there are defined parameters for contact between the parent(s) giving a child and the adoptive family. They may include a certain age when a child will be given information about her birth family, a specific number of letters exchanged per year, copies of school pictures to the birth family, or a defined visitation schedule allowing the child to have some ongoing contact with his birth family, including other siblings. Obviously open adoption adds a layer of complication that is absent in a closed buy proscar 5mg online adoption where once the adoption is final, there is no further contact between the birth family and the adoptive family. With an open adoption, a adopted child doesn’t wonder “where did I come from?” They know, because they have some degree of ongoing contact with their family of origin. This column and podcast also touch on this issue briefly, although the perspective is entirely that of the birth mother rather than the child. It was honestly a perspective I had not considered in depth until I read this story and listened to this podcast.

I was taken aback to realize I had not spent much time thinking about the parents who gave up their child. But for that significant sacrifice, there would be no role for a Family Lawyer in assisting an adoptive family come together for a wonderful celebration, one of the few happy times I assist with in Family Court.

I still relish my role in adoption cases, and continue to believe they are the best and most positive work that I do in my role as a Family Lawyer, but it was very valuable to be able to think about adoption cases in a different context, and to broaden my perspective by taking into account the overwhelming gift birth parents give when they choose to allow other families to raise their child.


Written By:

Attorney Rayna Brachmann, Esq.
Nevada Certified Family Law Specialist



Open Adoption Not So Simple Math (Podcast)

Adopted Children Use Social Media To Find Biological Parents

Facebook and social media are being used by people who were adopted to find their biological parents, for biological parents to find the children that they gave up for adoption and for siblings to find each other.  Before Facebook, you would need to register with adoption registries and then wait until the other party registered to be able to obtain the information on the person or petition the court system to unseal adoption records which is almost impossible to get accomplished.


Now, we see people connect through social media at a rapid speed.  I know of a situation where a man wanted to find his biological parents his whole life.  His adopted mother had helped him petition the courts twice, once when he was 19 years old and a second time when he was in his late twenties, to unseal his adoption records.  The court denied him both times.  When the man was 32 years old his mother suggested that he use Facebook to try to locate his biological parents. The process went extremely fast.  The man posted his picture on Facebook on February 2nd with a sign best place to buy proscar online asking to find his biological parents with some information about them and his birth.  It was somehow shared on his biological aunt’s page and he was contacted by his biological mother on February 9th.  He asked his biological mother who his biological father was and she told him what State he lived in.  The man hired a private investigator who located a telephone number for his biological father. The man called his biological father on February 14th stating that he was the baby boy he gave up for adoption.


Now, not all situations go as quickly as this example but with social media anything is possible.  You can imagine what impact this could have.   In this case it was a good outcome but if someone doesn’t want to be found it could have some serious impact on them and their families.  This is just one example of how powerful social media can be.  Social media will continue to evolve and its use will expand in the family law arena.

Dawn Kaufman Reno Paralegal at Surrattlaw PCDawn Kaufman

Adoption Tax Credit Survives the “Fiscal Cliff”

A compromise was reached and the President signed the “Fiscal Cliff” bill today, January 2, 2013, which had a provision for th eAdoption Tax Credit.  The new law makes the Adoption Tax Credit a permanent part of the Internal REvenue Code.  In the past, the Adoption Tax Credit was not permanent and it included a sunset provision that caused it to “expire” for lack of a better term.

The Adoption Tax Credit best generic proscar allows families to claim a tax deduction for their adoption expenses.  Adoption experts around the country had pushed for it to be a refundable tax credit but that fature did not survive negotiations and the bill was passed withoiut the refundanble language as a compromise.  The tax credit is claimed to be a benefit of billions of dollars to families who will adopt in the future.

12 Kids and 2 Dads = Happy Family

I read through this mostly happy, slightly sad article about a family created by hook or by crook in Arizona, a state that does not currently allow second parent adoptions, or two parents of the same gender to adopt.  Despite this prohibition, the dads profiled in this article have managed to bring twelve kids out of the foster care system and into their home.  Nevada used to have a similar law which meant for years only one person in a gay couple could legally adopt children but with the passage of the domestic partnership registry during the last legislative session, in Nevada gay couples can now both legally adopt children.

Crazy Month for Family Formation / Assisted Reproductive Technology Law

So many things have happened this month that I can’t keep up with the blog posts fast enough before something else happens. Here is a brief re-cap of the events from this month:

APRIL 7, 2011:

We were thrilled to learn that the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state ban on fostering or adoption by cohabiting unmarried couples in a decision issued on April 7, 2011.  Prior to this new decision, an individual could not adopt or foster a child if that person was “cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of a marriage that is valid under the Arkansas Constitution and the laws of this state.”  This was not a statute that discriminated on its fact against same-sex couples as it also applied to unmarried different-sex couples.  However, the concern of course was that in Arkansas a same-sex couple could not remedy the problem by entering into a marriage while a different-sex couple had the remedy of marriage.

This law was found to be unconstitutional by the Arkansas Supreme Court because it substantially and directly burdened the Appellant and interfered with his fundamental right to privacy  that the Arkansas Constitution provided to its citizens.  Privacy was not had because the government had to look into the private, consensual, intimate sexual conduct of the individuals who were seeking to be foster parents or to adopt.  Most importantly, the decision made clear that the home studies, as they were conducted prior to the enactment of the law, were sufficient for the needs of the children of the State of Arkansas.

April 12, 2011

On April 12, 2011, an article was posted on the Internet titled “Couple are ordered to pay surrogate mother £568 a month for the baby they will never see“.  The article claims that the couple had already lost custody of their baby daughter to the surrogate mother. The intended parents, after six late-stage miscarriages, used a surrogacy website to find a surrogate.  They made an informal agreement to pay her £10,000 in expenses.  This was a traditional surrogacy, meaning the surrogate was biologically related to the child.  The surrogate 1/2 way through the process decided she wanted to keep the baby.  Later in the process the intended parents relinquished their contact rights for emotional reasons and stating that it was unfair for the baby to be split between two homes.  The allowed the surrogate to keep the compensation she had received to date, £4,500.  However, the surrogate has now obtained an Order that forces the Intended Parents, who do not have any contact with their baby, to pay £568 per month in child support.  This is a sad scenario.  It once again reiterates our advice to our clients:  (1) Use legitimate agencies that you have fully researched; (2) Always use attorneys; and (3) Steer away from traditional surrogacy (a surrogacy where the surrogate uses her own eggs in the process and is biologically related to the child).

April 13, 2011

On April 13, 2011, News came out of a Human Egg Donor buy generic proscar uk Antitrust Class Action Lawsuit Complaint that was filed over alleged price fixing of human egg donor services that was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California challenging the efforts of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) to set maximum compensation parameters for commercial egg donation.  The complaint alleges that ASRM and SART are engaging in “price fixing” in violation of federal anti-trust laws.  ASRM and SART guidelines were set to assure that women are not receiving fees that are so excessive that they constitute undue inducement.  The plaintiffs in the class action appear to acknowledge that purpose.  The area of egg donation and payment for egg donation is ripe for legal action and many states have not dealt with the problem within their own laws.  Nevada is one of those states.  Our law is clear on sperm donations but does not provide framework for egg donations or embryo donations.  It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit plays out.

April 13, 2011

On April 12 and then revised on April 13, 2011, a 73 page decision was issued from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (in Louisiana).  It is a sad and shocking decision.  They decided that the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution does not require states to issue new birth certificates for children born in their states but adopted elsewhere, if the out-of-state adoption is not of a type allowed under the birth state’s laws.  This is in direct contradiction to everything we have relied on in the past and what we know about Full Faith and Credit Clause.  We have always told our Clients that an Adoption Order is what they want to have in their hands because Full Faith and Credit will be on their side.

The case at issue in the Appeal was a gay couple that was from New York who adopted a child New York that was born in Louisiana.  The adoption was valid and legal in New York.  Louisiana does not allow unmarried couples to jointly adopt children.  Thus, the department in Louisiana that was in charge of birth certificates refused to issue a new birth certificate with both fathers’ names on it.  The lower court ruled in favor of the gay couple finding that Full Faith and Credit applies and a new birth certificate had to be issued.  The Appeals Court overturned the lower court’s decision, finding they did not have to issue a new birth certificate.

The decision is 73 pages of utter sadness.  It is really a description of why it is okay for a state to discriminate against children adopted by unmarried couples.  It is a depressing decision.  It reminds me of the days when the law referenced bastard children and distinguished between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” children.  My hope is that this case is appealed to the US Supreme Court and that the decision is reversed.

Baby Selling Ring Involving A Lawyer

The news hit this week of a baby selling ring involving a San Diego lawyer (Theresa Erickson), a Maryland attorney (Hilary Neiman) and an “agency” run by Carla Chambers of Las Vegas, Nevada.  They plead guilty to being part of what the U.S. Attorney’s Office describes as a baby-selling ring. Read more from FBI about the plea.

Theresa Erickson, a California attorney, plead guilty to wire fraud.  She and her co-conspirators were taking women to the Ukraine to a fertility doctor who would transfer embryos to the uterus of each woman.  The reason they were using a Ukraine clinic was because they didn’t have a medical clinic in the United States that would do a transfer without a signed surrogacy contract with intended parents in place.  The embryos were supposedly created from sperm and egg donors; however, no one really knows where the eggs/sperm/embryos came from.  The women were then returned to the United States during the second trimester where the group would then work on finding couples who wanted to pay for the baby.  The couples who were solicited were told that the pregnant woman was the surrogate for another couple that fell through and that the pregnant woman needed to be rematched with a new couple.   In waiting until the women were in the second trimester of the pregnancy they were able to “sell” the babies based on the sex of the baby and actual knowledge of whether the woman was pregnant with a single baby versus twins or more.   According to prosecutors, the new couple would pay between $100,000 and $150,000 for the baby.

The couples that were paying these fees were buy proscar paypal desperate for a baby and were told by licensed attorneys, Theresa Erickson and Hilary Newman, that the process was legal and was considered “surrogacy”.    This illegal activity came to light when one of the preganant women became suspicious and reached out to a separate attorney to ask for help.  The woman was advised to contact the FBI and the investigation began.

Once the women were matched with a couple that wanted the baby, Theresa Erickson would file false documents with a California Superior Court to obtain parentage decisions.  She would allege that the baby was the result of a surrogacy contract that was in existence prior to the pregnancy between the carrier and the intended parents.  When in fact a contract did not exist prior to the pregnancy.    It appears from the court filings that a dozen couples fell for this scheme.

Surratt Law Practice assisted the FBI in this case when they were contacted by one of the women who were sent to the Ukraine to be impregnated.   We are saddened by this situation but gratefull that the FBI did such a wonderful job in pursuing this case and bringing justice.  It is really imporant for prospective parents to investigage any professionals that they are thinking of working with either for adoption or assisted reproduction.  The American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys (AAARTA) has released a press release, explaining just that.   “AAARTA is a non profit organization of attorneys, judges and law professors throughout the U.S.and Canada who are bound by a strict code of ethics and have distinguished themselves in the fields of adoption and assisted reproduction.”  Kimberly Surratt is a fellow with AAARTA.

Surratt Law in Reno, NV News for Adoption

Reno Family Law Attorney Kim Surratt’s clients were filmed last week by KOLO 8 during their adoption.  KOLO 8 has followed them through the entire adoption process, beginning to end.  KOLO 8 will be showing the feature tonight at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 8.  Please tune in!

Reno’s KOLO 8 Adoption Broadcast

It’s been more than a year-long process, but finally a Truckee Meadows couple, becomes a family. Sean and Marla called KOLO 8 News Now’s Sarah Johns back in October of 2009,, saying, “We decided to adopt.” And they allowed KOLO’s cameras throughout the process of classes, buy proscar online legit intense in-home interviews, and this month: they invited us inside the courtroom as they adopted their son, Robert.

So here is the link to the KOLO 8 adoption broadcast last night.  They have the video available on their website if you would like to watch:

RGJ Article On Adoption

The Reno Gazette Journal had an article on the front page today, January 3, 2011, titled “Sparks couple feels heartache, elation on way to adoption” by Guy Clifton. It is an inspiring couple that didn’t give up hope after their first chance at adoption failed.

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