Archive for April, 2010

Domestic Adoption Gets a Famous Face


The Vaughan Firm Blog congratulates Sandra Bullock on the adoption of her beautiful baby boy, Louis Bardo Bullock, announced today with a beautiful photograph on the cover of People Magazine. Louis, now 3 1/2 months old, was born in New Orleans.

While many highly publicized celebrity adoptions have been from abroad, it’s nice to have a high-profile reminder that many children right here in the United States are also in need of loving homes. We wish Ms. Bullock every joy in her newly-expanded family.

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

Good News for D.C. Foster Parents

It’s a sad task to have to advise a family that they might not want to adopt their foster child because they could lose the government subsidies that make it possible for them to make ends meet. Happily, this will no longer be the case in Washington, D.C., where the D.C. Council has passed legislation allowing adoptive parents to keep the subsidy for an adopted child for just as long (until age 21) as they would for a foster child. Under the old law, foster children received the subsidy until age 21, but adopted children lost the subsidy at age 18, creating a disincentive for families to adopt. The law also extends guardianship subsidies to people other than close family members of the child, so that foster parents who are not close family members can also benefit from it. This is important for many older foster children, who may wish to stay with their foster families under a guardianship rather than be formally adopted, because they don’t want to sever all legal ties with their birth families.

Kudos to the D.C. Council for making this small but vital change for D.C. families.

To read the full story in the Washington Post, click here.

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

Russia Bans Adoptions to the U.S.

Sad news last week for the many responsible families waiting to adopt children from Russia. As you know if you are following this story, Russia — the third-largest source of international adoptions to the United States – placed an indefinite hold on adoptions to the U.S. following the incident in which a Tennessee woman returned her adopted son to Russia. The case came after three other cases in which Russian children adopted by Americans were killed.

There is some hope that the ban will be lifted if the U.S. signs an agreement consenting to certain regulations of the adoptions. A delegation from the U.S. to Russia has been delayed by the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland.

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

The Case of Baby Emma

The Washington Post published this sad and thought-provoking story about the Baby Emma case yesterday. In this case, baby Emma’s birth mother sent the baby to Utah to be adopted without the father’s consent. Although the father filed for custody just eight days after Emma’s birth, and indeed was granted custody by a Virginia court, the state of Utah, whose laws greatly disfavor unmarried parents, granted temporary custody to an adoptive family. Emma is now over a year old, and the battle over her custody continues.

Although many people think of adoption decisions as largely belonging to the birth mother, it is important to remember that fathers have legal and moral rights to their children as well. In my practice, I hear so many sad stories about birth fathers who don’t want to be involved in their children’s lives. However, many fathers do want to be involved and to do the right thing, and it’s essential that we respect their rights as loving parents.

I am also troubled by Utah’s law favoring adoptive parents over unmarried biological parents, as noted in the Washington Post article:

Utah is culturally conservative, and lawyers say the powerful Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with its emphasis on family values, has strongly encouraged adoption-friendly laws. “The Utah statutes can be harsh, but they are looking at what’s best for the child: stable placements and two-parent families,” said David Hardy, a lawyer for LDS Family Services, a Mormon Church-affiliated adoption agency that is among the nation’s largest.

It is dangerous to assume that two-parent families are automatically best for children, an assumption that discredits loving single mothers, loving single fathers, gay couples, and couples who have decided not to marry for various financial, cultural, or religious reasons. While it’s true that stable families are best for children, it is frightening to think that a child could be adopted away from a stable birth parent simply because that parent is unmarried.

In my experience, birth mothers deeply want what is best for their children. Legally speaking, this almost always means taking into account the wishes of the birth father. Although it isn’t always easy, keeping the father involved in the adoption decision (if he wishes to be involved) can avoid the kind of lengthy and painful battle that Baby Emma is now the subject of.

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

Great Information on International Adoption from The Diane Rehm Show

My local NPR station, WAMU, aired a wonderful program on international adoption today on the Diane Rehm Show. A must-listen for anyone who has adopted or is considering adopting from abroad.

If you only take one thing from this program, let it be this: There are resources available for parents of children with attachment disorders and other mental illnesses. Don’t be afraid to reach out!

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

From NPR: One Parent’s Perspective on Adoption

As a counterpoint to the recent scandals surrounding international adoption, NPR’s All Things Considered has aired this lovely reflection by author Eric Weiner about how adoption enriches families. Although horror stories make better news headlines than happy families, it is worth remembering that most adoptions go well, giving both children and adoptive parents the family life they’ve wished for.

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

Mother Returns Adopted Son to Russia


By now, most people with an interest in adoption have heard about the case of Torry-Ann Hansen, who returned her 7-year-old adopted son Artyem “Justin” Savelyev to Russia six months after adopting him. Hansen and her mother put Artyom on a flight from Dulles to Moscow alone with note in his pocket saying he was violent and had severe psychiatric issues that Hansen claims the Russian orphanage hid from her before the adoption took place. “I am sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child,” Hansen wrote. They paid someone to meet Artyom at the airport and deliver him to the Russian Child Protection Agency.

There have been so many judgments passed on Ms. Hansen in the media that I don’t feel the need to add to them here. To me, the most important thing I can say about this case is that there is help out there for families of children who have attachment disorders, mental illnesses, and behavioral problems. You can find links to many of these resources here. If your child is exhibiting symptoms of an attachment disorder or mental illness, please reach out.

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

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