Fall 2022

Thank you for taking the time to read our latest newsletter. In this issue we highlight some new legislation that affects adoption and assisted reproduction here in Colorado, as well as a heartwarming story of a son who was reunited with his mother after three-and-a-half years apart. We also consider how the United States Supreme Court recent Dobbs decision might affect Coloradans; shine a spotlight on one of our long-term partners, Adoption Options; as well as highlight a couple awards our attorneys have recently received.

Work at our firm is returning to normal post the Covid crisis. We are thrilled to begin seeing more people in the office, but many clients appreciate the convenience and option to continue to meet virtually. Our team also enjoys the flexibility of being able to work remotely a few days a week. Courts have opened back up for the most part, but some jurisdictions have high volumes of backlogged cases, resulting in delays in getting a contested court date. Some judges have adopted the practice of hearing routine procedures via video conferencing, which saves time and money for all parties. Courtroom practices vary tremendously by jurisdiction, and even judge by judge.

As we transition from summer to fall, we are reminded of the appreciation we have for all our clients and partners. Thank you for being part of our important work in adoption, assisted reproduction, child welfare and immigration. We love our work and continue to strive to help build families.

Have a wonderful fall!

Seth Grob & Tim Eirich
New Colorado Legislation

This new Colorado law, which became effective in August 2022, ensures legal protections for families formed via assisted reproduction. Specifically, the law makes it easier for a same-sex spouse to adopt a non-genetic child.

In cases where same-sex families use one partner’s genetic material to create an embryo resulting in pregnancy, or donor embryos are used to result in one partner’s pregnancy, the other parent has no biological connection to the child and initially has arguably no legal connection to the child. 

“In the past, the non-genetic parent would sometimes put their name on the birth certificate, but that is an administrative act only; it is not a legal order. If the couple were to later move to another state and the relationship ended, the non-genetic parent might not be recognized as a legal parent,” says Seth Grob.

The confirmatory adoption process is now more streamlined. Non-genetic parents do not have to have a home study or background checks. There is no need for a court hearing as everything is done via affidavit within 30 days.

“I have seen an explosion of couples, in particular lesbian couples, who want to obtain an adoption order after the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade,” says Seth. “We have already successfully processed a number of confirmatory adoption cases and have a queue of families who are now proceeding with their filings since the law went into effect last month.”

The benefit of receiving an adoption order in these types of cases is that the order will be given full force and effect under the United States Constitution in all 50 states and thereby protect the parent-child legal relationship between the non-genetic parent and the child.

“The new law ensures that the genetic parent who gave birth and the parent who adopted the child are the parents of the child with equal parenting rights and responsibilities," adds Seth.

This new law will allow donor-conceived persons under the age of 18 to obtain health information about the gamete (sperm or egg) donor, and once they are over 18, the donor’s personal identifying information.

“The act grew out of lessons learned from adoption,” says Seth. “Adoptees have always wanted information about their genetic history and birth parents. We have allowed the adoption process to be open, and now the availability of information is extended to donor-conceived children.”

Starting in January 2025, donors who provide a gamete to a Colorado family must agree that their health and identifying information can be released to donor-conceived persons and their families. Fertility clinics, gamete banks and gamete agencies must get updated information from their donors every three years.

“There are some concerns,” says Seth. “Today the vast majority of egg donations and almost all semen donations are anonymous. The requirement to be identified could reduce the number of donations, which could reduce the number of children conceived and born through assisted reproduction. It will also increase the cost of assisted reproduction as there is more work for the clinics in maintaining updated information.”

Additional requirements include that all gamete agencies/clinics must get a license and there are limits to the number of donations or cycles per donor. The regulations also apply to out-of-state clinics if the recipient is in Colorado. There is a fine of up to $20,000 for not complying with the regulations.

“The act was passed so that children have the right to their own biological information. But as a result, we are losing privacy for donors,” says Seth. “However, in balancing the rights of the parties, the child is the most important person, the one being created.”

Seth also points out that this is the first law of its kind in the country. “There was a lot of out-of-state lobbying and money to push it through. I think we will see similar legislation proposed in other states in the coming years.”
Mother and Son are Reunited after Three-and-a-Half Years Apart
Kate Stafford, an attorney with Grob & Eirich, took an international Zoom meeting with Zhanar, a potential new client, on a Thursday afternoon. Zhanar had been trying to reunite with her son for three-and-a-half years. Now the child’s caregivers were filing for guardianship, and court proceedings started Monday. 

Kate took the case and prepared for court all weekend. She advised her new client that although they would object to the guardianship, it would most likely be granted. Kate explained that a temporary guardianship wasn’t a path to adoption and, if granted, it didn’t mean Zhanar would not get her son back.

Eight years ago, Zhanar gave birth to her son, Aisultan, while pursuing her degree at Colorado School of Mines. She lived with him in Colorado for four years until she was refused an extension of her student visa. Together they traveled to her home in Kazakhstan but soon after, Zhanar sent her son back to the U.S. She used a Power of Attorney to place him in the care of friends from her time at Mines, an older couple whom she knew well. This arrangement was intended to be temporary while Zhanar moved to the United Arab Emirates and got settled in a new country.

Since then, it had been three-and-a-half years of making arrangements and purchasing plane tickets. But the guardians did not follow through with their stated intention to reunite Aisultan with his mother, and Zhanar was not legally able to return to the U.S. to retrieve her son.

“In the twelve months prior to my involvement with the case, Zhanar made three separate attempts to get the child back into her care, but none was successful. These plans failed for various reasons,” says Kate. “But my client was starting to fear that the couple wanted to keep her son, so it was very emotional for her.”

In court on Monday, the temporary guardianship was granted, but Kate began her work to reunite Aisultan with his mother permanently by creating a plan and asking for a review hearing in two months. A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) was appointed for the child and Zoom visitations with the mother were ordered by the court. 

“Initially, I set the review hearing only out of an abundance of caution; to give myself, the GAL, and the guardians a concrete timeframe in which to make significant progress," says Kate. "I, probably naively, hoped we wouldn’t need a review at all. As it turned out, I was very grateful to have that second court date.” 

Kate, the GAL and a therapist agreed that getting the child to his mother as quickly as possible was the best outcome. The guardians stated their intention was to reunite mother and son, but they contested the plan and continued to put up roadblocks, including objecting to the GAL’s report, which supported a relatively swift reunification. 

“From the beginning, this was a difficult case logistically,” says Kate. “There was short notice to be ready for court; my client was in Abu Dhabi, which is ten hours ahead of Denver; and the stakes were high. I don’t think my client, who is not a US citizen and doesn’t have a working knowledge of the law here, could have successfully navigated the court system without an attorney.” 
Zhanar stated of the process, “I did not have faith since I was not in the U.S.A.”

“Zhanar had to put a lot of trust in me when she really didn’t want to," says Kate. She didn’t always understand why we were making the choices we were making, or why I couldn’t just put Aisultan on a plane to her the next day. She had to trust me to work the case in a way that would get her the outcome she desired—and deserved.”  

The guardians had become unable or unwilling to accompany the child on a plane to reunite him with his mother. However, a friend of Zhanar’s named Susan said she was willing to accompany Aisultan to Abu Dhabi. In July, Kate was able to prevail and Aisultan flew with Susan and was reunited with his mother at last.

“I am back with my son which makes me very happy and content," says Zhanar.

“I do think the result is in the child’s best interest,” says Kate. “Zhanar never lost her right to parent her child, but circumstances got in the way. This should have been resolved a long time ago. Less than three months after hiring us, Aisultan was on a plane home to his mom. Although I’m sure those months felt like an eternity to Zhanar, we are very pleased with the outcome.”
What Could the Dobbs Decision Mean for Coloradoans?
In June of this year, the United States Supreme Court issued its landmark decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, ruling that the federal constitution does not confer a right to abortion and gave the states the power to regulate abortion laws. We checked in with our lead attorneys and a partner in adoption to ask how they think the decision could affect Coloradans.

Our practice is unique in Colorado. We are the only firm that does what we do, focusing on adoption and assisted reproduction, but not practicing traditional family law. We work with adoption agencies that are religiously affiliated as well as agencies that have received recognition for their work with the LGBTQ community. Similarly, we work with a very diverse range of adoptive families. As the laws change, our role is to provide the best legal counsel we can to protect our clients’ interests in their family, regardless of how their family was formed.  – Tim Eirich

My prediction is that we will see a significant uptick in infant adoptions. The waiting periods that we have now, around 24-30 months, is going to be reduced. Roughly 26 states will have significant restrictions to abortion resulting in more infants being born and being placed for adoption. Many adoption agencies in Colorado, and across the country, have had to cap the number of waiting families, particularly during the pandemic, because they didn’t have enough children being placed for adoption. With more children being carried to term and being placed for adoption, more Colorado families will successfully adopt, particularly from another state where there are considerable abortion limitations. Further, while there has been a massive increase in people using assisted reproduction to build their family, that may shift to infant adoption as it is much less expensive. – Seth Grob

Part of the concurring decision by Justice Thomas mentions reevaluating other rights including same sex marriage. We have many favorable laws here in Colorado for same sex couples, but there is a legitimate concern that other rights, such as same sex marriage, could be challenged in the near future. Without question, this fear has led many clients to proceed with confirmatory adoptions in order to get a court order protecting their status as a legal parent. Colorado laws protecting reproductive rights as well as same sex marriage can be yet another reason that people come to Colorado. – Tim Eirich

While it is difficult to predict the future, we have historically seen pregnant people who are exploring their options come to Colorado. These folks sometimes seek our pregnancy counseling support as a part of their decision-making journey. We hope that Colorado remains a safe place to explore all options regarding pregnancy and parenting, and we will strive to provide support to anybody making these decisions. Time will tell if this decision impacts the rates of interstate adoptions as well. – Megan McClean, Executive Director, Adoption Options
Partner Spotlight: Adoption Options
Adoption Options works to find permanency for kids by working with birth parents and adoptive families and providing guidance in the adoption process. With a focus on acceptance and inclusivity, the organization offers comprehensive support services.
Megan McClean has been the executive director for two years and highlights how their support programs have proven to be successful.
“We provide direct service to kids who are in the foster care system, through mentoring and groups,” says Megan. “The outcome is five times more likely to lead to permanency, either reunification or adoption, within a year.” 
Megan also explains their focus on inclusivity. “We were founded with that idea in 1981,” says Megan. “We serve the whole community. We are a human rights campaign innovator, provide lots of training, and focus on the LGBTQ+ community specifically.”
Seth Grob and Adoption Options have had a long working relationship, over 20 years.
“Our team probably talks to their team 3 to 4 times a week,” says Megan. “Every time I have a difficult case or want to know why the law is a certain way, they take the time to answer all my questions.”
“Adoption Options provide a very high level of support and service to adoptive families and expectant parents,” says Seth Grob. “We are very pleased with our long-term relationship.”
Megan adds, “Everyone at Grob & Eirich are extremely competent but also extremely kind. They help people understand their legal rights and the processes.”
Learn more at www.adoption-options.com.
Seth Grob was awarded the Susan Paquet Mentoring Award at the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) annual conference in New York this year. It is awarded to a Fellow who has been a mentor to others in the areas of adoption and/or assisted reproductive technology law and has made a significant impact on his or her mentee.
Tim Eirich nominated Seth for the award. “Seth has been an incredible mentor to me, as well as our entire team at Grob & Eirich,” says Tim. “Being a successful Adoption and/or ART attorney is as much about navigating the challenges of running a small business as it is about mastering the ever-evolving law and public policy. Seth has influenced me greatly in both arenas. Seth has served as an incredible mentor and friend as we not only grew our firm but also took on more challenging cases and legal issues. Indeed, anyone who has ever sought Seth’s assistance knows what a fountain of knowledge he is.”
In June, Tim Eirich was awarded the Raymond C. Frenchmore Juvenile Law Award at the Arapahoe County Bar Association event. This award recognizes outstanding service to the juvenile justice system in Arapahoe County.
“I could not think of anyone more deserving of this award than Tim," says Seth. "He is a gifted, passionate, and incredible advocate for his clients involved in the juvenile justice system. I am inspired everyday by Tim’s hard work and commitment to bettering the lives of Colorado’s children.”
Attorney Presentations
Tim Eirich, Child Welfare and the Law Roundtable, Mount Saint Vincent Support Group (May 2022).
Kathleen Glynn, “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status,” with Ana Ferreira and Ashley Barkoudah, 2022 AILA Paralegals Virtual Conference, American Immigration Lawyers Association (August 2022).

Kathleen Glynn, “Colorado Law and Practice Regarding Immigrant Youth and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status,” with Kacie Mulhern and Ashley Harrington, Domestic Relations and Probate Institute (June 2022).
Kathleen Glynn, Adjunct Faculty, University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado Law, Legal Writing I (Fall Semester 2022).
Grob, Eirich, and Stafford, The Law Surrounding Expedited Relinquishment and Contested Adoption Cases, Adoption Options (September 2022).