Thank you for taking time to read our newsletter.
In this issue, we discuss the rare instances when
adoptive families are struggling and the resources available
to families who need support. We also explain the
types of visas
internationally adopted children have when coming into the United States and when a final adoption proceeding needs to take place in this country.
As we near the winter holidays we hope you and your families are well, and we wish you all a very joyous season. If we can ever be of any assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Seth Grob and Tim Eirich
Support for Families Struggling with an Adopted Child
Adoption dissolution is one of the most difficult experiences a family can endure. While the vast majority of adoptions remain stable, an estimated one to seven percent dissolve. Dissolution is often due to a child's negative behaviors, a lack of attachment, financial strain or a family's inability to handle the child's special needs. Almost all of these dissolved adoptions involve children who were not adopted as an infant, but rather older children adopted through the foster care system or internationally.
"These are some of the hardest cases we handle. No one wants to dissolve an adoption; it is heart wrenching," said Tim Eirich. "We want these parents to get support before they are in crisis, as there are many resources available to families facing these challenges."
"Our firm is committed to helping these families in crisis through a myriad of ways," states Seth Grob. "We often initially provide resource referrals to try and maintain the placement but if those are not successful, we assist with locating a subsequent suitable, secondary placement, transitioning the child into the new home, legally freeing the child for adoption, and handling the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children if the child is being placed across state lines. It is critically important for these families to not directly list these children on the Internet or advertise them through alternative public mediums for adoption purposes as, in 2014, Colorado criminalized such activities."
There are community based post-adoption services, both private and public, to assist struggling families. For instance, Lutheran Family Services offers programs for adoptive parents and children. The Adoption Exchange provides a post-adoption program including local support groups, referrals to mental health professionals, training and classes, and other resources. Also each county's department of human services can lend support. However, when those services are not successful, Grob & Eirich works with many private placement agencies in Colorado and across the country to assist in identifying and facilitating a secondary adoptive placement.
It is often necessary for the new secondary adoptive placement to receive competent legal representation, which Grob & Eirich also specializes in providing. For example, the new adoptive family often will need assistance with securing an adoption subsidy for the child to obtain the services and support necessary to parent the child. Further, if the initial adoption was international, there may well be immigration work necessary related to obtaining U.S. citizenship for the child and/or ensuring that all federal documents reflect the child's new legal name following the subsequent adoption.
"Adoption dissolution is the option of last resort and is not always possible or in a child's best interest," said Tim Eirich. "If adoptive parents contact us early enough, we try to find the resources that will help them before they get to that point."
If, however, the placement cannot be maintained, Seth Grob explains "our firm is uniquely situated to help the families and children involved to ensure that all legal matters, including, but not limited to, the termination of parental rights, adoption finalization, adoption assistance and immigration, are handled in a sensitive and caring way."
International Adoptions and U.S. Citizenship
Many factors determine the immigration status of a child adopted in another country. These factors include: whether or not the child's country of birth is a member of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention); whether a full and final adoption was completed in the child's country of birth; and whether or not the child's adoptive parent(s) saw the child prior to or during the adoption.
A child from a Hague Convention country with a full and final adoption in that country will be issued an "IH-3 visa" for entry into the United States. A child from a non-Hague Convention country with a full and final adoption in that country, whose parent (if unmarried) or at least one parent (if married) physically saw the child prior to or during the adoption proceeding, will be issued an "IR-3 visa" for entry to the United States. When the child enters the U.S. on an IH-3 or IR-3 visa, the child automatically becomes a U.S. citizen. No additional legal proceeding is required to secure the child's citizenship. In most cases, a Certificate of Citizenship will issue immediately. If your child entered the United States on an IH-3 or IR-3 visa and you have not received your child's Certificate of Citizenship, Grob & Eirich can help secure that important document.
A child from a Hague Convention country who is coming to the U.S. to be adopted here will be issued an "IH-4 visa." A child from a non-Hague Convention country will be issued an "IR-4 visa" in the following circumstances: the child is coming to the United States to be adopted here; or, the child was adopted abroad by only one parent (if married); or, the child was not seen by the parent(s) prior to or during the adoption. When the child enters the U.S. on an IH-4 or IR-4 visa, the child is a Lawful Permanent Resident (or "LPR"). The child will not become a U.S. citizen until adopted in the U.S. When a child who enters on an IH-4 or IR-4 visa is not adopted here in the United States, that child remains a Lawful Permanent Resident until he or she is eligible to naturalize on his or her own after the age of 18. Please note that Lawful Permanent Residents can be, and are, deported from the United States in certain circumstances typically related to criminal activity.
"Just because a child was adopted in another country by a U.S citizen does not mean that child will automatically become a U.S. citizen," said Katie Glynn. "For children who enter on an IH-4 or IR-4 visa, we can ensure a full and final adoption is completed in the U.S. and assist the family in applying for the child's Certificate of Citizenship with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is important that families not delay completing their domestic adoption in these types of cases and obtaining proof of citizenship thereafter."
Adoption Tax Credit for 2016
On November 2, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service issued new regulations surrounding the permanent adoption tax credit to take effect in 2016. This credit continues to be significant for families who are interested in adopting a child who needs a home, and allows families to have the financial resources they need to care for these children long-term. The federal government subsidizes adoptions to encourage more adoptions in this country.
The IRS issued Rev. Proc. 2015-53, which establishes the maximum amount of the Adoption Tax Credit under Section 23(a)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code for adoptions finalized in calendar year 2016 at $13,460 per child (an increase of only $60 from the maximum in 2015). In 2016, the adoption tax credit begins to phase out at a modified adjusted gross income of $201,920 and is completely phased out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income of $241,920 or more.
The maximum credit for a child with special needs is also $13,460 for calendar year 2016. The credit associated with a special needs child is a flat tax credit and is not based upon qualified expenses incurred. The maximum amount excludable from gross income is the same, as are the phase-out limits related to qualified adoption assistance programs under Section 137 (a)(2).
Lutheran Family Services
We highlight one of the many valuable partners we work with in each newsletter
Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains (
) is a faith based, non-profit human service agency helping children and families during their most challenging times including unintended pregnancy, child abuse and neglect, the impact of man-made and natural disasters, older adult isolation, and the plight of refugees and asylees. They respond to approximately 30,000 people annually, regardless of race, religion, gender or age.
Renee Teague is the Program Director for Adoption Services, which includes pregnancy options counseling, domestic and international adoption, and kinship adoption. LFS also provides services for foster-to-adopt.
"Our Pregnancy Counselors help women and their families through their pregnancy journey regardless of their final choice," said Renee. "Lutheran Family Services was one of the first agencies to practice open adoption, and we believe that the ongoing relationship between birth and adoptive family is what is best for the child."
"Renee comes from a child welfare background," said Tim. "She is thoughtful and experienced and knows how complex these cases can be. She brings a sophisticated view to the process to ensure the rights and interests of all parties are considered."
"I've known Seth and Tim for over 20 years when they were both initially Guardian ad litems," said Renee. "I have great respect for their work. They really are the experts in Colorado regarding adoption."
One of the newest programs at Lutheran Family Services is the Post Placement Adoption Support Program which includes child, marriage and family counseling as well as support groups.
"We saw a need in the community," said Emily Frank, Adoption and Family Counselor. "Once an adoption is finalized, everyone says 'good luck' without giving the family a lot of resources. Adoption is a life-long journey, so it makes sense to treat it that way. Some of these children have been through abuse and neglect and the traditional parenting strategies don't work. The program allows them a voice so they are heard, and gives new or supplemental tools to their parents."
Emily believes in the power of preventative treatment, and compares therapy to getting an oil change for your car. "If you address the issue early on, it's much easier to treat and make a difference than if you wait until it has reached crisis mode. Preventative therapy can do a lot to mitigate issues in the future."
Presentations and Committees
Seth Grob is the Co-Chair of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys annual conference at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colorado, May 4-7, 2016. The conference, entitled, "Pursuing Higher Learning in the Majestic Rocky Mountains," brings together more than 350 Fellows of the Academy for continuing education to improve the practice of law in adoption and reproductive technology cases.
In July, Tim Eirich served on the planning committee and as a facilitator for the Colorado Depedency and Neglect Judicial Insitute in Boulder. Tim presented to judges from across the state regarding "Invervention of Relatives and Foster Parents in D&N Cases."
In September, Tim taught at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy in Boulder. The event was a four-day training for public service attorneys, and Tim volunteered his time as one of approximately 25 faculty members from across the nation.
Tim currently serves on a subcommittee of the Juvenile Rules Committee for the state of Colorado. The subcommittee, which is co-chaired by the Honorable David Miller from El Paso County District Court and John Thirkell, assistant county attorney in Douglas County, will assess and provide proposed rules of discovery and disclosure for Dependency and Neglect cases in Colorado. "Discovery rules for D&N cases in Colorado are essentially non-existent and procedures vary from county to county," Tim said. "I am honored to be part of this important project."
Katie Glynn attended the 4th Annual Rocky Mountain Fall Conference, "Immigration Law with Altitude," sponsored by the AILA Colorado Chapter. Katie was the Discussion Leader for the panel entitled "On the Run: UAC & SIJS/Family Detention/Asylum Update." (October 2015)
Katie presented at the Colorado Bar Association CLE, Immigration Law: Asylum and other Humanitarian Relief event. She presented on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. (September 2015)
During an Immigrant Advocates Network (IAN)
webinar , Katie presented
with Kristen Jackson, Helen Lawrence and Rex Chen, introducing and explaining their Practice Advisory, "Strategies for Suppressing Evidence and Terminating Removal Proceedings for Child Clients." The webinar was produced for the Vera Institute of Justice's Unaccompanied Children Program. (June 2015)
Tim and Katie, along with the Honorable Judge Woods, presented at the 2015 Domestic Relations Best Practice Court Institute for Judges, Magistrates, Family Court Facilitators and Sherlocks. They presented on "Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: A Pathway to Citizenship for Court-Involved Immigrant Children." (June 2015)
Katie continues to serve on the AILA Colorado Chapter EOIR Liaison Committee, the liaison committee between AILA attorneys and the immigration court.