As we send out this most recent newsletter, the Coronavirus has changed our daily lives for the immediate future. From school closures, to social distancing, to shelter-at-home orders, to praying for the health of our loved ones, all of us have had to make significant changes as to how we go about our daily lives.
At Grob & Eirich, our clients' needs haven't changed. While we remain open and committed to serving our current and future clients regarding adoption, assisted reproduction, family-based immigration and child welfare needs, we have made the following temporary changes to our firm's operations:
- We continue to work and operate full-time, but our team alternates working from home and in our main office in Lakewood.
- All current and new client meetings will occur by telephone or video conference.
- We request that clients send pleadings and documents to our office via mail, rather than dropping them off in person.
We're so grateful to be part of your lives, and we're committed to helping you when and if you need us. Hopefully, things will resume to normalcy in the near future. Until then, take care and stay healthy.
Securing the Adoption Subsidy Luke Deserves
"I always knew I wanted a child with special needs," says Sarah. "My father worked with special needs kids and I have always had a love for them."
Sarah and Gabriel Hahn already had seven children, five biological and three adopted. They wanted to have more but had decided to delay growing their family. Gabe had just started a new job and the timing wasn't right. Then Special Angels Adoption, an adoption agency in Ohio that they had registered with previously, called about birth parents who were looking for a specific type of adoptive family for their baby.
"The birth parents wanted a family with siblings where the mom stayed home and the family was outdoorsy and active," says Sarah. "We were a good fit. And this could be the special needs child we had been hoping for. A week-and-a-half later we brought Luke home."
Luke was two and a half months old and had been diagnosed with Prader Willi Syndrome (PWS). PWS is a complex genetic syndrome which affects children globally, and multiple medical specialists are needed to manage their care long term. PWS children usually have severe low muscle tone and an insatiable appetite. They often fall within the low range of intellectual development and will likely never live independently.
Sarah and Gabe immediately arranged for Luke to receive the medical care he needed, including daily growth hormone treatments; physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy multiple times per week; as well as later providing music therapy and swimming. They orchestrated a team of medical specialists around the country who could care for him. Quickly the Hahns discovered that the treatments and medical needs totaled over $2,000 a month.
"We were determined to get Luke everything he needed, but we had no idea the mounting expenses that would come with his special needs," says Sarah.
Sarah started communicating with the Colorado Department of Human Services to secure an adoption subsidy but without much success. "I spent about six months sending emails and calling lots of people. I was ping-ponged around or just got silence. They ultimately said he didn't qualify. It was so frustrating."
The Hahns knew Seth Grob as the attorney who worked with Hope's Promise, the adoption agency they worked with previously for their daughter's adoption. "We met with Seth and hired him on the spot," says Sarah. "From then on we got responses. Seth sent emails and letters and we heard back within hours or a day."
"Sarah and Gabriel needed Medicaid; without it, medications would have been $4,000 per month," says Seth. "And there was another $2,000 per month in equipment and therapies. They also incurred considerable expenses traveling around the U.S. to meet with specialists. They simply could not proceed with the adoption without the subsidy."
Seth initially set a meeting with the Colorado Department of Human Services. The State's position was that they were not responsible for providing and paying for a subsidy since this was a private adoption and the child was born in a different state.
"I believed the State of Colorado was indeed responsible for determining subsidy eligibility and paying for it," says Seth. "Federal law provides that in interstate private adoptions, the responsibility vests with the state where the adoptive parents reside, not where the child is born. Through extensive advocacy, we were able to convince Colorado to reverse their earlier decision."
Within weeks the Hahns received approval at the state level that the child was eligible for adoption assistance and then moved on to the county to negotiate the amount of the subsidy. Seth wrote a lengthy letter outlining the child's expenses, the family dynamics and why the family needed the subsidy, including letters from Luke's team of medical specialists. The county granted the full amount requested plus an additional 10%. Therefore, the county agreed to provide the family $2,000 per month until the child reaches the age of 21 based upon the complexity of the child's care. Thus, the subsidy will amount to approximately a half million dollars over the course of the child's minority. The county also provided reimbursement for legal fees.
"We know we got it because of Seth," says Sarah. "We thought it was going to be another battle, but that wasn't the case at all. Seth has so much knowledge and expertise and has so many relationships. It happened quickly and that was all because of Seth."
"This case exemplifies that advocacy and legal representation on difficult subsidy cases are so critical to achieve a positive result for a family," says Seth. "Without counsel well versed in subsidy related cases, many families won't get the resources they need to finalize the adoption or maintain it in the future."
Luke was legally adopted March 23, 2020.
Avoiding Pitfalls in Intercountry Adoptions
"International adoptions, which may include the adoption of children present in the United States who are citizens of other countries, are very complicated," says Katie Glynn, attorney with Grob & Eirich. "The adoption of an undocumented or immigrant child does not automatically grant U.S. citizenship to the adopted child. Certain steps need to be followed to ensure that a child's adoption also provides immigration benefits."
It is important to know and understand The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, which established international standards of practices for intercountry adoptions. You can read more about
the Hague Convention here
. In addition, the United States has enacted the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA), which applies Hague Convention standards to non-Hague adoptions.
Katie shares these tips with those seeking to adopt internationally, including those seeking to adopt an immigrant child present in the United States:
- Consult with a U.S. attorney experienced in adoption and immigration before you initiate any type of court action as to a child.
- For the adoption of a child residing in another country, know that you will have to work with a Hague-accredited service provider, typically an adoption agency, in order to secure both the adoption and the appropriate immigration status for your child. When your internationally adopted child arrives in the United States, be sure that the adoption is validated in the child's new state of residence before the child turns 18 years of age. This will allow the child to receive a Certificate of Foreign Birth from Vital Records. For those children who enter the U.S. in immigrant visa category IH4 or IR4, the validation of the foreign adoption decree also confers upon them the immigration benefit of United States citizenship.
- For the adoption of a child residing in the United States who is a citizen of another Hague signatory country, you must request a letter from the child's country of origin stating that the child is no longer a habitual resident of the home country in order for the adoption to proceed in the United States and be valid for immigration purposes.
Katie recommends calling Grob & Eirich before initiating an adoption for help navigating these issues and ensure a smooth adoption process as well as obtaining immigration status.
The Williams Family: Working Collaboratively with a Native American Tribe
We interviewed Allison Williams who recently adopted three children who are members of a Native American tribe. The Williams hired Tim Eirich to help them navigate the co
mplex legal process around the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
Tell me about your family.
There is my husband Buddy, and his children from a previous marriage, Jamie and Cailin. The three youngest children are Nina, the girl with pink glasses who is 7, Kele, the boy with long hair who is 4, and the little girl, Sakari who is 3.
(Names of the Native American children have been changed.)
How did these children come into your lives?
We were approved to become foster parents in October 2016 and a week later got the infant Sakari. We met Nina at a sibling visit and she was transferred to our home in November 2016. At that time Kele was in another home, but we had weekly sibling visits with him. He moved in around March 2017. All three children have the same mom who is a member of a Native American tribe.
When did you know you wanted to adopt all three children?
We knew we wanted to adopt them pretty quickly, especially the baby after a few weeks. Their birth parents couldn't make it to visits and do the work they needed to do to get their kids back. Two of the three have high needs and must have an advocate for them at school. Their special needs were a lot for their birth parents. Once all three of them were with us, we realized they needed to stay together, whoever got them.
How did you connect with Tim Eirich?
I was part of a Facebook group for certified foster parents and a lot of people were talking about Tim and how he had helped them. I knew I needed a stronger voice. He came in when we were dealing with grandparents in Idaho who might want them. Tim helped the grandparents understand the children's high needs. The grandparents decided they couldn't take care of the children. Tim was impressive to watch in court. He was always prepared, has a lot of knowledge of ICWA and was great with cross examinations.
What was it like working with the tribe?
The tribe was involved from the beginning. They would check up on the kids and ask how they were doing. It's a very small tribe of only about 7000 in a poverty-stricken area. They have one foster home and she is not adopting, so they supported our adoption.
Are the children official members of their Native American tribe?
Yes! That's their heritage. It was important to the tribe, to the department of human services, to us and to the kids. The birth parents hadn't registered them, so the case worker had to travel to the tribal offices in the Midwest to apply for membership in person. Then we had to wait, but the kids were eventually accepted into the tribe.
We wanted to complete their registration before the adoption was finalized. We changed their last name but kept all their other names.
Why is their Native American culture important to you?
If you are going to take in a child who is not from your culture, it's your job to help them understand their heritage. Recently, Nina drew a picture of herself under eagle wings. The children are proud of their heritage. We go to at least four Native American events each year. When they are older, they can get dance lessons. My job as their mom is to help educate and expose them to their culture through books, experiences and interactions with members of their Native community.
When were the children adopted?
The adoption was finalized on Christmas eve last year. The best part is being able to know, and for them to know, that they aren't going anywhere.
Welcome our Newest Senior Associate, Kerry Simpson
Grob & Eirich is pleased to announce that Kerry Simpson has joined the team as senior associate attorney.
Kerry focuses her practice on representation of foster parents, relatives, non-relative caregivers and stepparents in child welfare, adoption, allocation of parental rights and guardianship cases. She is a 1998 graduate of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law and received her undergraduate degree from Baylor University. Kerry was admitted to the Arizona bar in 1999 and to the Colorado bar in 2004.
Read her full bio here.
"We have known Kerry for many years and worked with her on cases," says Tim. "When we had an opening, we knew Kerry would be a great fit. She has experience in adoption and child welfare, and will add even more experience in handling traditional domestic relations cases. She has a great presence in the courtroom and is particularly skilled in collaboration, mediation, and coming up with creative solutions to complex problems."
"The firm has such a great reputation," says Kerry. "When the opportunity arose to work with them, it felt like this was a great chance for me. They work very hard and have so much knowledge. I'm learning a lot and I love it here."
Thank You to Our
A big shout out to the partner agencies and organizations that we have worked closely with during the past year. We could not do our important work without you.
Adoption Choices of Colorado
The Adoption Exchange
Adoption Network Law Center
Adopt Triad Consultants
Bethany Christian Services
Chinese Children Adoption International
Colorado Christian Services
Colorado State Foster Parent Association
Hand in Hand International Adoptions
International Adoption Net
A Love Beyond Borders
Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains
Nightlight Christian Adoptions