June 2013

Seth A. Grob

Thank you for taking a moment to read our summer newsletter. This quarter we discuss some important issues related to the parentage of children conceived during a civil union and a new law to protect children conceived from sexual assault. We showcase the amazing story of two siblings in foster care whose best result were placement in two different adoptive homes. We also highlight one of our many agency partners, Adoption Options.


There is an extremely important case currently before the United States Supreme Court often referred to as the Baby Veronica case. The biological father, who is a member of the Cherokee nation, is using a federal law, the 1979 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), to attempt to block her adoption. Baby Veronica was put up for adoption by the biological mother at her birth. The biological father did not participate or support the mother during pregnancy or after birth, which under South Carolina state law did not give him the right to consent to or veto the adoption. However when Veronica was 2 years old, the father was successful in using the ICWA to gain custody of the child. The issue before the Supreme Court is if the ICWA changes state laws that determine parentage and if the ICWA can be used in this case to block the adoption. We expect the opinion later this month and will discuss this critical case and its impact on the adoption of Native American children in the following newsletter.


We are growing steadily here at the Law Office of Seth A. Grob and need more space. We are thus moving our main office to Lakewood, Colorado in the next few months, which will allow us to be more centrally located for our clients. We will continue to keep our satellite offices in Denver, Boulder, Cherry Creek and the Denver Tech Center.


If we can be of any assistance to you please don't hesitate to reply to this email or call us at (303) 679-8266. You can also visit our website at www.sethgrob.com. The best compliment you can give us is to refer us to a friend or colleague, and we truly appreciate it.


Now that summer has arrived Tim and I hope to get out on our mountain bikes and enjoy the great weather. Have a terrific summer.



If a Child is Conceived During a Civil Union, Is That Enough?


In the last newsletter, we featured an article on the new Colorado civil union law that went into effect May 1. The article explained that religion-affiliated adoption agencies will have to serve same sex couples or cease operations, and the adoption of a partner's child will be easier and less expensive under the new law.


However, a question we did not address but are hearing from our clients is in regards to children conceived during a civil union. The new law provides that the non-genetic partner is presumed to be the legal parent of his/her partner's biological child if the child is conceived during the term of the civil union. Thus, while the new law appears to allow both parents' names to be placed on the original birth certificate if the child is conceived during the civil union, is that enough?


The answer is it might not be, for a few reasons:

  • You may decide to move away from Colorado at some point to a state that may not recognize civil unions or same sex marriages and thus be unwilling to legally recognize the parent-child legal relationship with the nongenetic partner;
  • Civil unions, just like marriages, may dissolve in the future, and the legality of the non-genetic partner's parental rights could be challenged; and
  • Birth certificates are not court orders and do not determine parental rights.

It is prudent and recommended to proceed with an adoption by the non-genetic mother or father immediately following the child's birth so that parental rights can never be put into question. As long as the adopting partner makes less than $194,580 a year, a tax credit will cover the expenses of the adoption. Failure to have a court order recognizing parentage could have potentially disastrous consequences for the parents and children involved. It's important to work with an attorney that specializes in adoption to ensure the process is smooth and the result is final and irrevocable.


Protecting Children Conceived as a Result of Sexual Assault

Colorado Senate Bill 227 "Protect Rape Victim From Contact With Father" was signed into law this past legislative session. It states that a Court shall terminate a parent-child legal relationship if the parent was convicted of sexual assault and the termination of parental rights is in the child's best interests. The person whose parental rights are terminated has no right to allocation of parental responsibilities, no right to inheritance from the child, and no right to notice of, or standing to object to, adoption of the child. This law will make it easier to legally free a child for adoption and proceed with an adoption plan where the child was conceived as a result of a sexual assault. Although these cases aren't routine, we do see a few of these types of cases each year, particularly involving stepparent adoptions and infant/toddler agency adoptive placements.


Persuasive Legal Argument Avoids Costly Trial and Allows A Foster Child to Remain With Her Forever Family
Amy was 6 years old and Katlyn was almost 2 when they were placed with the Reeds who were interested in adopting them. The years of horrible neglect had finally come to an end. The Reeds provided a safe and secure home for the siblings, along with their three biological children.


Little Katyln bonded quickly with her new caregivers and considered them her parents from the beginning. However it was harder for Amy. She had been through many more years of trauma and was having a hard time settling into her new home. She was reclusive, unhappy and didn't want to do things with the family. The Reeds tried to help by providing therapy and counseling but nothing seemed to be working. The therapists said that Amy was not attaching to them as parents.


Finally after 3 years, a therapist and the Reeds recognized that they were probably not the best family for Amy. The therapist recommended Amy be placed with a family that had no other children and could better manage her special needs. The Reeds were conflicted, but agreed and asked the County Department of Human Services to help find Amy a new home. However the County stated that not just Amy, but also her younger sister Katlyn, would be removed from the home.


The Reeds were distraught. Katlyn was just 5 years old and had lived with them for more than half of her life. She was very attached to them. To remove her from their home would be devastating for Katlyn's well being. That's when they called the Law Office of Seth A. Grob.


Tim Eirich

Tim Eirich handled the case and made it clear that the Reeds would fight to keep Katlyn in their home. Prior to trial, Tim filed a legal brief arguing that Katlyn was in a permanent home, according to Colorado law, and could not be removed from the Reeds' home. Tim utilized a very important, but often ignored, Colorado statute that requires children young children in the foster care system to be placed in a permanent home within one year unless a court makes specific legal findings by a very high legal standard. The judge agreed and issued an order before the trial began as to what the County would need to prove in order to remove Katlyn. Based on the trial court's ruling, the County conceded that they did not have the evidence to remove Katlyn from the Reeds' home. Due to Tim's legal argument, an emotional, litigious, and expensive trial was avoided.


"While there is a legal presumption that siblings should be adopted together, it does always mean they need to remain together in the same home at all costs. Each child's needs must be considered individually" said Tim Eirich. "Sibling relationships are important, especially for foster kids, but they are not more important than a parent/child relationship. Attaching to a child's caregivers is the most important relationship in a child's life. Therapists told us that children who are unable to attach to their parents have difficulty establishing healthy relationships for the rest of their lives. I'm so glad we were able to keep Katlyn with the parents who love her."


Importantly, the sisters will remain connected: Amy found a new home with a couple that does not have other children, and the Reeds adopted Katyln just last month. The sisters regularly visit and play together often.


Partner Spotlight: Adoption Options
We will highlight one of the many valuable partners we work with in each newsletter 

Adoption Options (adoption-options.com) is a non-religiously affiliated, non-profit Colorado adoption agency. 
Since 1981 they have placed over 1,500 infants and children in safe, loving homes through their various programs including infant adoption, foster to adopt, designated adoption and relative adoption. Adoption Options is committed to helping clients devise an adoption plan that is tailored to their individual needs and wishes.


One program that is unique to Adoption Options is the Flexible Family or foster to adopt program. A family applies for the program and undergoes 27 hours of training to become a certified foster family. Adoption Options then markets the family to the counties in Colorado and across the country to find them the foster child or children they are seeking. This program is especially important for older children who have fewer families interested in fostering or adopting them. The program has exploded in the past year with 30 families in process and 10 children adopted between 3 and 14 years old. They receive approximately five applications for new families each month.


Adoption Options was recently awarded the Seal of Recognition for its leadership in supporting and serving LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) families from the Human Rights Campaign's All Children-All Families program. Adoption Options is the only adoption agency in Colorado to receive this prestigious award.


"We have a great partnership with Seth and Tim," said Adrienne Elliott, executive director of Adoption Options. "They are extremely responsive. I can't say enough good things about them."


"It's wonderful to work with Adoption Options," said Seth Grob. "They bring a high level of expertise and compassion to their work. They are a leader in working with older children who need a family, and helping couples and individuals of all backgrounds who want to create families."


Speaking Engagements

Seth Grob and Tim Eirich will be speaking at the Office of the Child Representative Summer Conference in Silverthorne, Colorado on July 29-30, 2013. Seth's talk is on "Adoption: What Guardian Ad Litems Need to Know." Tim's talk is on "Post-Termination Custody Disputes Involving Foster Children: Factors to Consider and the Appropriate Legal Standard."  


Tim Eirich will be teaching a three-day Advanced Trial Skills course with the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) for 32 child advocacy lawyers in Springfield, Illinois June 18-20, 2013. Tim will be one of eight faculty members from across the country teaching at this program. NITA is the nation's leading providers of legal advocacy skills for attorneys.   


Tim Eirich will also be speaking at the Family Law Institute in Vail, Colorado on August 10, 2013 on "Impact of Adoption on Domestic Relations."


The Law Office of Seth A. Grob
31425 Forestland Drive; Evergreen, CO 80439
303-679-8266  seth@sethgrob.com
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