Last month, Seth was honored to co-chair the annual conference of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys held here in Denver.
"While chairing the conference was extremely time consuming, it was also exceptionally rewarding," shared Seth. "It allowed me to give back to the Academy and to my colleagues who have helped me develop into a better adoption and assisted reproduction lawyer since becoming a Fellow almost 15 years ago."
In this newsletter, we highlight a few important cases, including a
U.S. Supreme Court case
where a same-sex adoption decree from another state was upheld, as well as a
Colorado Supreme Court
case that clarified the legal standard for terminating the parental rights of a birth father in a contested
private adoption proceeding. We also feature one of our partners,
Adoptions By Heart of Colorado.
As always, 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.grobeirich.com. The best compliment you can give us is to refer us to a friend or colleague. We truly appreciate your referrals.
Enjoy a terrific summer!
Seth Grob and Tim Eirich
American Academy of Adoption Attorneys Annual Conference a Huge Success
Over 250 adoption and assisted reproduction attorneys attended "Pursuing Higher Learning in the Majestic Rocky Mountains" May 4-7, 2016, at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver. Seth Grob co-chaired the event with Virginia Frank.
The conference provided an opportunity for Fellows of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys to learn about current cutting-edge issues, legislation across the country, important appellate cases and the impact that these have on their law practices. It also gave the Fellows an opportunity to socialize and make connections.
"We heard from many Fellows that this was one of the best conferences they ever attended," said Seth. "People raved about how much they learned from the program, and they enjoyed the social events. Attendees also commented that the Brown Palace venue was indeed historic and charming."
All four days featured top-rated Continuing Legal Education programs in several tracks, including these highlights:
- "The Supreme View: Adoption Legal Advocacy from the Trial Court to the Appellate Court" with Colorado Supreme Court Justice Brian D. Boatright
- "It's All Happening at the Reproductive Endocrinologist's Office" with Dr. Dana Ambler of Colorado Reproductive Specialists
- "Techno-Ethics: Practicing Law in the Digital Era" with Jim Callaway, legal blogger and podcaster
On Friday evening, attendees traveled to Mount Vernon Country Club in Golden for cocktails, dinner and a special music performance by Grammy-nominated and Colorado-based Nick Urata from DeVotchKa.
"We had an amazing, collaborative team working on this event, not only my co-chair Ginny, but also all the committee chairs and their volunteers," Seth noted. "There is a huge amount of work and details involved in putting on a four-day conference, and I am proud to have been a part of it."
Family Formation Charitable Trust Raises $15,000
The Family Formation Charitable Trust, created two years ago by the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, hosted a fundraising reception on Wednesday evening of the conference. The event and silent auction raised $15,000.
The Trust was formed to provide financial assistance to those individuals and nonprofit organizations seeking to build families through adoption and assisted reproductive technology. According to the website, "this could involve assisting families with the cost of adoption and/or assisted reproductive technology procedures, or children who are in need of placement and who may be difficult to place, or very importantly, children who have been languishing in the foster care system." For more information about the Trust, click here.
The Trust grants range from $500 to $2,000 each and are award two times per year. Seth Grob serves on the board of directors and grant review committee. This spring the Trust awarded 11 grants totaling $16,000 to families, including a client of Tim Eirich.
Important National and Colorado Cases
Same-Sex Adoption Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court in March 2016 reversed an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that denied parental rights to a lesbian adoptive mother who had split from her partner.
Together for 16 years, the two women had three children utilizing assisted reproduction. The non-biological mother formally adopted the children with her partner's consent in Georgia where they lived.
Later the couple moved to Alabama and split up. The biological mother denied her former partner access to the children. The Alabama courts initially allowed shared custody but the Alabama Supreme Court overturned the lower courts, stating that the Georgia court had wrongly ordered the adoption.
The adoptive mother appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the justices unanimously overruled the Alabama Supreme Court without hearing oral arguments. The ruling stated, "A State may not disregard the judgment of a sister State because it disagrees with the reasoning underlying the judgment or deems it to be wrong on the merits." The Supreme Court ruled that Alabama must give "full faith and credit" to the Georgia court's decision. In doing so, the Court protected gays and lesbians adoption rights.
"This is why we always recommend that a non-genetic parent proceed with an adoption so they can move anywhere and it will be valid," said Seth Grob. "While Colorado statutes allow the non-genetic parent's name to be on the birth certificate when the two are married, we still recommend an adoption or parentage order from a court to better protect the non-genetic parent's relationship with the child they are raising."
Colorado Supreme Court Clarifies Legal Standard for Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings
The appeal stemmed from a trial court's decision to terminate the parental rights of a father in a relinquishment case by finding, amongst other criteria, that he had failed to "promptly take substantial responsibility for his children." The court of appeals later overturned this decision citing the "heightened due process requirements" of a legal parent and raised concern that the birth mother's original fraud regarding the father's identity hindered the father's ability to take substantial responsibility for the children. The court of appeals also found that the trial court improperly permitted the adoptive family from fully participating as parties. In late 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' decision and reinstated the termination of parental rights such that the adoption was valid.
The Colorado Supreme Court determined that a parent's due process rights are fully satisfied when the trial court applies the statutory criteria for termination. The Court also held that when a custodian properly intervenes, pursuant to C.R.S
19-5-105(3.6), they have a right to fully participate as a party. Additionally, the Court clarified the primary factor in assessing whether a parent has taken "substantial parental responsibility for the child." Specifically, the Court defined "regular and reasonable support for the care of the child" in these ways:
- Support "refers to expenditures that are used for the necessary, everyday care of the children"
- "Regular support for the care of the child means consistent support over a period of time"
- "Reasonable support for the care of the child, likewise, is what ordinary parents would need to spend for the care of their children under their individual circumstances"
- "For the care of the child" means that the "support must go to the children's daily care and cannot be used for expenditures for the parent" such as attorney and travel costs.
"This is an important case in Colorado," said Tim Eirich. "It solidifies the procedure and legal standard for terminating the non-relinquishing parent's rights, by clarifying what it means for a parent to take substantial responsibility for a child."
Partner Spotlight: Adoptions by Heart
We highlight one of the many valuable partners we work with in each newsletter
Adoptions by Heart is a Colorado-based, open domestic adoption agency. The founders, Geri K. Glazer and Jeanne Reisig, have placed over a 1,000 children and have a combined 40 years of adoption experience in Colorado. Offices are located throughout the Denver metro area.
The mission of Adoptions by Heart of Colorado is to provide complete, high quality adoption services in open adoption placements and unbiased counseling to birth and adoptive families to ensure that every child grows up feeling loved, supported and unique.
"Both Geri and Jeanne offer a tremendous amount of experience in adoption," said Seth Grob. "I have worked with Jeanne for years, and I'm excited to continue to assist the agency with their legal needs."
Presentations and Publications
"Adoption Attorneys and Human Service Departments: Working Better Together," Policy & Practice, 74(4), August, 2016 (expected publication date). (Seth Grob and Tim Eirich, contributing authors)
American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, Annual National Conference, "Intervention by Relatives and Foster Parents in Child Welfare Cases" (Denver, Colorado, May 2016). (Tim Eirich)
University of Denver Sturm College of Law Child Advocacy Clinic, "Immigration Law and its Intersection with Child Welfare Law," (Denver, Colorado, April 2016). (Kathleen Glynn)
2016 Convening on Children, Youth and Families, "Special Immigrant Juvenile Status," (Beaver Creek, Colorado, April 2016). (Kathleen Glynn, Tim Eirich and Abbie Johnson of the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network)
Colorado Lawyers Committee, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, "Legal Training: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status," (Denver, Colorado, March 2016). (Kathleen Glynn presented with Ashley Harrington, Senior Staff Attorney at the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network)