October 2013


Thank you for taking a moment to read our newsletter. This quarter we'll examine several recent domestic adoption cases and their interplay with immigration, international adoption, and the Indian Child Welfare Act. You will also be introduced to one of the most dedicated agencies that we are fortunate to work with, Bethany Christian Services of Colorado.


Tim Eirich, attorney; Ondine Craig, paralegal; and Seth Grob.

I am happy to announce that we have moved to new office space. Our new address is 12596 W. Bayaud Ave, Suite 390 in Lakewood, Colorado. Our phone numbers have remained the same.


This move enables our clients to have better access to us. We also needed more space. Now we are minutes from the courthouses in both Jefferson and Denver County where we spend much of our time. We are also in close proximity to many of the other courthouses in the metropolitan area. Of course we are always available for consultations at our other satellite offices located in the Denver Tech Center, Cherry Creek, Denver, Boulder and Evergreen.


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.


Please come and visit our new office to say hello and check out our amazing view of downtown Denver!



Joselyn On The Road to Legal Residency After Years of Struggle

Joselyn came to the United States from Mexico when she was just 6 years old. She lived with her birth mother and her partner, Neta Hansen, for many years; however, Neta was always Joselyn's primary caregiver. Eventually the birth mother left and Neta became Joselyn's sole caregiver and happily took on the responsibility of raising Joselyn.


When Joselyn was 12, Neta began the process to adopt her. Neta traveled to Mexico and worked with an attorney there. A year later, Neta received the foreign adoption certificate. She then began the process of completing the necessary immigration paperwork including obtaining a new passport and changing Joselyn's last name to Hansen. Everything seemed fine until the application for permanent legal residency was denied two years later. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services discovered that Neta's attorney in Mexico was fraudulent. The adoption was not legal. Neta and Joselyn were heartbroken.


Despite the crushing setback, Neta spent three years working with another attorney in Mexico, as well as an immigration attorney in the United States. Her frustration grew. Finally, she was referred to Seth Grob.


Seth immediately filed in the Colorado District Court for allocation of parental responsibilities (APR) and for findings establishing eligibility for special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS). This status is granted to immigrant children who were abused, neglected or abandoned by one of their birth parents and when it is not in their best interests to return to their country of origin. If eligibility is established, the child can obtain a green card through the program and legally work and live permanently in the U.S.


However, there was one problem. After all this time, Joselyn was about to turn 18. Although Seth was able to file the APR petition while she was 17, the case was not heard until after her eighteenth birthday. On this basis alone, the district court magistrate dismissed the case determining that as matter of law, the child was emancipated and  the Colorado court did not have jurisdiction to enter any APR orders or SIJS findings. Once again, Neta felt hopeless.


Together, Seth and Neta discussed the options. Seth consulted with other attorneys, most of whom advised against an appeal. But Seth didn't want to give up so he petitioned to have the magistrate's order reviewed by a district court judge, arguing that 18 is not a designated age of maturity by the pertinent laws. On appeal, the judge agreed with Seth's argument and reversed the magistrate's decision.


Allocation of parental responsibilities was thereafter granted, as was findings for special immigrant juvenile status. Joselyn has now initiated an application to receive permanent legal residency which is expected to be granted and will allow Joselyn to legally remain in the U.S. Joselyn proudly graduated from high school this year and is working her first job.  


"This is an important case because it expands the remedies that are available to older kids who have been brought to this country at a young age, have lived here a long time, and who have been fully assimilated into our country" said Seth. "Joselyn now has opportunities she never would have had."


"I wish we had known Seth when we started all of this. It could have saved us nine years," said Neta. "Now Joselyn is looking forward to college. She is excited to get on an airplane for the first time and get a driver's license. We used to live in fear that our family would be split up. We had to plan our vacations around border checks. Now we can just enjoy life and be free."

Baby Veronica and the Indian Child Welfare Act

Baby Veronica's birth mother and biological father were engaged but had split up during the mother's pregnancy. Four months before Veronica was born, the birth mother sent the birth father a text message about placing the child for adoption. He agreed.


The birth mother worked with an adoption agency to select a couple to adopt her baby. The adoptive couple was present at the birth and baby Veronica began living with them immediately.


Four months after the child's birth, the biological father signed documents that indicated he was not contesting the adoption. Soon after however, the birth father changed his mind and wanted Veronica back. The father, who was a member of the Cherokee Nation, began working with an attorney to gain custody under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).


The ICWA was created in 1978 to protect American Indian children, families, and tribes from abusive child welfare practices of that time that separated Indian children from their families and placed them in adoptive or foster care placements, usually in non-Indian homes. The ICWA provides heightened legal standards for removing Indian children from their Native American parents and prioritizes the type of adoptive placement that must be given preference.


Veronica and her biological father 

In September 2011, twenty-seven (27) months after Veronica was first placed with the adoptive family, a South Carolina Family Court denied the adoption petition and awarded custody to the biological father based on the adoptive families' inability to overcome the heighten protections of the ICWA. Veronica was removed from her adoptive home and handed to her father, a man she had never met. Later, the South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed the decision.


The adoptive family appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court. In June of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the adoptive couple and overturned the South Carolina Courts in a controversial 5-4 decision.


Adoptive parents after Supreme
Court ruling

The majority opinion of the Court analyzed two related provisions of the ICWA and determined that the birth father could not invoke the heightened protections because the birth father had never had physical custody of the child and had abandoned the child prior to birth. The Court also analyzed the "placement preference" provision of the ICWA and held that the preferences for a Native American family member or tribal member are inapplicable when "no alternative party has formally sought to adopt the child."


This important decision limits the application of the ICWA and requires a detailed legal the analysis of the Act any time that a child has Native American heritage.


"It means that attorneys and trial judges have another layer of analysis to sort through on cases involving Indian children and parents," said Tim Eirich who recently gave a talk on the case. "The Indian Child Welfare Act is a complex law and the Supreme Court's interpretation will absolutely impact private adoption and child welfare cases here in Colorado."


More importantly for Veronica, the case proves how important it is that the trial courts get it right the first time.


"Children don't have great appellate remedies. Over two years with the adoptive family, over two years with her birth father, and now she is back to her adoptive home. It is tragic that the child's permanency was delayed for over four years - that long of a wait and the associated upheaval in changing homes can be devastating to young children," Tim said.


All photos courtesy of The Post and Courier


Russian Children, Rolan and Kira, Find Forever Home in Colorado
In Russia, where Rolan was born, his mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, was an alcoholic and a drug addict. His father also abused alcohol and drugs. However Rolan's circumstances improved dramatically when he went to live with his grandmother in the Russian countryside at 9 months old.


When Rolan was 8 years old his grandfather died. Then his birth mother got pregnant again. Sadly, she started drinking while pregnant and abandoned her baby girl, Kira, at the hospital. Their grandmother was already having a hard time taking care of Rolan by herself and couldn't take the baby.


Fortunately for Kira and Rolan, they had an aunt and uncle in the United States. Anya and Jim Anderson lived in Colorado. In 2011 and again in 2012 the children came to visit the Andersons and stayed for many months.


In a political move, Russia banned international adoptions in January 2013. Rolan and Kira had stayed with the Andersons since November of 2012 but their visas were expiring. With this change in adoption policy, the Andersons were terrified to send the young children back to Russia. Their parents' rights had been terminated in June in Russia and there was no one in that country who could care for the children. If returned to Russia, they would be immediately placed in an orphanage without any opportunity to come back to the U.S. given that foreign adoptions were now completely shut off by the Russian government. The Andersons feared they would never see Kira and Rolan again.


Anya searched for an attorney. "When I was doing the research Seth was recommended by several adoption agencies," said Anya. "I needed someone who understood both immigration and adoption. He was the only one who could do both."


Seth filed for approval of adoptive placement, motion for temporary care and custody, and findings regarding eligibility for special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS). Seth argued that the children had been in the Anderson's care over a year collectively and therefore the Court had jurisdiction. All motions were granted. Thereafter, the children received permanent legal residency by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and on August 27, the children were legally adopted in Colorado.


"We came up with a creative solution that required an understanding of kinship adoptions, immigration, and knowledge of international adoption law," said Seth Grob. "Kira and Rolan may have been trapped in Russia forever if they had left the U.S."


*All client names have been changed.

Partner Spotlight: Bethany Christian Services
We will highlight one of the many valuable partners we work with in each newsletter 
Bethany Christian Services is a worldwide, nonprofit organization whose faith-based outreach extends to orphans and other vulnerable children on five continents. They are the largest adoption agency in the U.S.


Maddi Noleen is the executive director of Bethany Christian Services of Colorado, with four locations in the state, in Denver, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction and Idaho Springs. Due to Bethany's multiple offices throughout Colorado, they can readily service both birth parents and adoptive parents, wherever they might reside. Bethany's primary focus is adoption within the United States and from foreign countries. They also provide excellent support and counseling for pregnancy, post-adoption, infertility and pregnancy loss.


"Many pregnant women come to us very early in their pregnancy. We can help support them whether they decide to parent the child or not," said Maddi. "Additionally, we don't match birth mothers with adoptive couples until they are absolutely sure they want to move forward with an adoption plan. I think this is why our percentage of birth mothers who change their mind is so low."


Seth Grob has been the agency's general counsel for more than twelve years.


"We have a great relationship with Seth," said Maddi. "I always feel like we are in sync and come to an agreement on the issues. He is probably the attorney I respect the most. Plus he is so easy to work with!"

Speaking Engagements

Tim Eirich will speak to the Colorado State Foster Parent Association on October 17 and November 14, 2013. http://csfpa.org 


On October 17, Tim will present on the updated legal rights of foster parents and relatives in Dependency and Neglect cases and highlight two recent decisions from the Colorado Supreme Court. 


On November 14, Tim will present on the role of the guardian ad litem (GAL) with Betsy Fordyce of the Children's Law Center.


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