Winter 2016

We hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thank you for setting aside time to read our newsletter. Our office has been very busy, and we have lots of news and information to share with you.
We are thrilled to welcome our newest attorney, Kellyn Nagel. Our firm now includes four attorneys and one staff: Seth Grob, Tim Eirich, Katie Glynn, Kellyn Nagel and Ondine Eisenhart, our paralegal. We recently completed a remodel of our office space to accommodate everyone.

Left to right: Katie Glynn, Seth Grob, Ondine Eisenhart, Tim Eirich, Kellyn Nagel 

In this newsletter, we feature the amazing story of Sarah and Eric, a couple who live in France but traveled to Colorado to have three biological children with the help of three gestational surrogates. We also touch on guidelines for those who may have come in contact with the Zika virus, spotlight one of our partners, Colorado Children's Society, introduce our newest associate, and discuss what happens during a home study in Colorado.
We wish you and your family a joyous holiday season!

Seth Grob and Tim Eirich

KellynGrob & Eirich Welcome Attorney Kellyn Nagel

Kellyn L. Nagel is a 2012 graduate of the City University of New York School of Law. At CUNY, Kellyn was a part of the Family and Child Advocacy Clinic and interned with the Administration for Children's Services (ACS), New York's child welfare agency. She also held internships at Safe Horizon Domestic Violence Law Project and Day One New York, a non-profit aimed at assisting teenage victims of domestic violence and their children. After law school, Kellyn held a judicial clerkship for the Honorable James P. Savio, J.S.C. in the Superior Court of New Jersey. In 2007, Kellyn graduated cum laude from Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor's degree in International Politics and French Language and Literature with a minor in Women's Studies.  
Prior to joining Grob & Eirich, Kellyn was a Guardian Ad Litem and Staff Attorney for Child Advocates of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center. In this capacity, Kellyn represented and advocated for children in child welfare matters in Denver Juvenile Court. Prior to her child advocacy work, Kellyn was as an associate at an immigration law firm in Denver representing immigrant adults and children before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). In this role, Kellyn represented unaccompanied children and adults in removal defense proceedings, citizenship claims and asylum applications.
Kellyn is admitted to practice law in Colorado and New Jersey. She is a member of the Colorado Bar Association, the Juvenile Law Section and the Young Lawyers Division of the Colorado Bar Association. 
Kellyn focuses her practice on child welfare and adoption. 
International Surrogacy Brings Sarah and Eric the Family They Always Dreamed Of
"Eric and I dreamed of having three children. We tried to get pregnant on our own, but it wasn't working. Then I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer and had a hysterectomy. The only way I could have a biological child was with a surrogate. But that is illegal in France."
Although Sarah was born and raised in Colorado, Eric is French and his work keeps them in France. Surrogacy has been illegal there since 1994, but French citizens are allowed to pursue surrogacy in other countries.
In the United States, Colorado is one of the states where courts are favorable to surrogacy so Sarah turned to her family to help her find a surrogate she could trust. Sarah's sister was a midwife and recommended a colleague who wanted to be a surrogate, Amiee, who agreed to help them. 
The couple decided they didn't want an agency involved since they found a surrogate on their own, and everyone wanted to have direct communication throughout the process. This made identifying an experienced attorney even more important. "Because we were not using an agency, it was vital we find an attorney who was experienced in surrogacy to guide us through the process," says Sarah.
Sarah and Eric interviewed many attorneys before choosing Seth Grob. "We were reassured by his guidance. He laid out all the things we needed to discuss with our surrogate and helped us be sure she got everything she would have received if we had used an agency," says Sarah.
"In surrogacy cases we draft legal contracts between the parties outlining their rights and responsibilities," explains Seth. "It is very important to explicitly state the intent of the parties. Because there is no surrogacy statute in Colorado it is critically important to set forth that the intended parents should be recognized as the legal parents of the child born to the surrogate, and that the surrogate has no legal rights or responsibilities to the child. Once a pregnancy results, we rely upon the parties' intentions and the contract to obtain a court parentage order prior to delivery finding that the intended parents are the legal parents of the child immediately upon birth."
"Seth also helped us think through what to do if things went wrong," says Sarah. "For instance, what if we had more babies than was safe to carry or what if the surrogate needed to go on bed rest - that was a major financial risk. We also needed a second set of guardians in case we both died during the pregnancy. What I really appreciated was that there was a sense of normalcy when we talked to Seth; we weren't doing something so different."
During the process, Sarah and Eric traveled back to Colorado frequently for IVF treatments, the embryo transfer to the surrogate, midway through the pregnancy and a few weeks before the birth. Soon after their first child, Oscar, was born, they began discussing a second surrogacy. This time Sarah's sister, Jessica B., wanted this altruistic job. Soon Viviane was born, and they knew they wanted to have a third child as they had always dreamed. They found another surrogate, Jessica T., who gave birth to their third child, Kennan, and thus completed their family. All three are Sarah and Eric's biological children in that Sarah used her ova and Eric, his semen to create the resulting embryos that were later transferred to their respective surrogates.
"Sarah and Eric are the only family I've worked with where three children were born from three different surrogates. That was a first for me," says Seth. "And with them living in France it added another layer of complexity to the process."
Sarah says being half a world away from her surrogates wasn't so bad. "Six years ago when we started I participated in the doctor's visits via phone. For the second and third pregnancies, I was at every appointment via video. I didn't feel disconnected; technology made me feel like I was there."

From left to right: Aimee and Oscar, born 2011; Jessica T. and Kennan, born 2015;
Sarah, Jessica B. and Viviane, born 2013 
Photography by Katy Tartakoff, 
Laws are beginning to change in France. In 2015, the top French court ruled that children born from surrogacy in other nations to French parents will now be granted French citizenship. But surrogacy is still illegal, and Sarah explains that there are risks. "Our children have no other parents, yet in cases of divorce or death, child protection service could come and take our children away."
Today Sarah and Eric work to help change the law. "We are one of the few families who are willing to talk to the media about our story and our process to help change the law," says Sarah. In fact, one media outlet traveled to Colorado and interviewed Seth on his role in helping Sarah and Eric.
Sarah says working with Seth was easy because of his knowledge and professionalism. "I found Seth to be organized, precise, proactive and respectful of our timelines. For the French process, he had to reissue some documents on very tight timelines, and he was always able to do that. Surrogacy is a very big project to undertake and having a lawyer who is trustworthy and experienced can make the process much easier."

Possible Zika Virus Exposure Guidelines Available for Those in Fertility Treatment, Donors and Surrogates
Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and can cause serious birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika. Local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has been reported in the continental United States, specifically south Florida. (Source: Center for Disease Control )

The American Society of Reproductive Medicine has published Guidelines for Providers Caring for Women and Men of Reproductive Age with Possible Zika Virus Exposure. The guide outlines recommendations for couples planning for pregnancy as well as those in fertility treatment. It also outlines precautions for semen and egg donors and gestational surrogates. Information on current testing limitations is also included.

Working with an experienced attorney in adoption and fertility law will help keep intended parents informed about exposure to the Zika virus and the appropriate precautions that should be taken.

 Partner Spotlight: Colorado Children's Society
We highlight one of the many valuable partners we work with in each newsletter
Established in 1911, Wyoming Children's Society is the oldest non-profit adoption agency in Wyoming. In 2014, they announced the opening of a sister agency, Colorado Children's Society located in Fort Collins, providing pregnancy support services, domestic infant and inter-country adoption services.

Director Carol Lindly says they opened the Colorado agency to provide another choice to families. "What is really important is that a family or birth mother feels comfortable with the agency. They are trusting us to be beside them. It's an emotional journey. Our goal isn't to become a big agency; we just want to be a resource and choice for women and families in Colorado."

Carol says that the agency's fee structure makes them different than other agencies. "We don't assess any fees until the child is placed in the home. Things can change during the adoption journey, and we don't assess fees until placement. As a small agency, we are lucky to be able to work this way."

Carol also points out they provide efficient home study services for other agencies' domestic and international adoptions.

Grob & Eirich serve as outside general legal counsel for Colorado Children's Society. Carol says "Tim and Seth are wonderful to work with. I found them to be very responsive and they have a deep understanding of the legal process of adoption."
What happens during a home study in Colorado?
The home study is an essential part of every adoption that takes place in Colorado.

One of the most important steps in adopting a child in Colorado is the home study. A home study is required for an agency domestic adoption, foreign adoption, and second parent adoption. It is not required for a stepparent adoption and may be waived by the court in Kinship and Custodial adoption cases. Everyone going through the assessment process should know what to expect from the home study.
Qualified agencies
In order for a home study to be valid, Colorado law dictates that a qualified child placement agency, individual or department of social services must conduct it. Failing to obtain a written report from the approved party could result in serious issues for the prospective family's adoption.
What the study entails
A written home study is a comprehensive evaluation of the person petitioning for the adoption as well as the child who may be adopted, if already placed in the prospective adoptive home. The report will include, but not be limited to, the following:

Presentations and Publications
Colorado Adoption Agencies, "The Indian Child Welfare Act," (Denver, Colorado, October 2016) (Seth Grob and Tim Eirich).
Pollack, D. (2016) (Grob and Eirich, contributing authors), "Adoption Attorneys and Human Service Departments: Working Better Together" Policy & Practice, 74(5), 28, 36-37.
Colorado Bar Association CLE, Immigration Law 2016, "Special Immigrant Juvenile Status," (Denver, September 2016).  [Katie Glynn presented together with Ashley Harrington of the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network].

Grob & Eirich, LLC
12596 W. Bayaud Ave, Suite 390
Lakewood, CO 80228