Domestic & International Adoptions and the Role of the Attorney

 
Published: May 1, 2012 share

By Amy Buchanan 2L

On Monday, April 23, the TJSL Family Law Society hosted “Domestic and International Adoptions and the Role of the Attorney,” a panel discussion with guest speakers Lori Bolander, owner of Bolander Law Group, and Tifany Markee, partner of Milner & Markee, LLP.  Professor Ilene Durst moderated the event as well as contributed to the discussion as an adoptive parent. Its purpose was to introduce students to a special niche in the practice of law and provide insight to the different types of adoptions and how a lawyer becomes involved.

As part of Attorney Markee’s introductory statements, she said, “The number one way to make money is to become that attorney that other attorneys need.”  Few attorneys practice in the area of adoptions, and she is one of only a handful of attorneys across the nation with an active practice in the adoption and immigration of foreign-born children. Furthermore, if you choose to practice in this field, “the law pertaining to adoptions can be summarized in two pages.  It is the interpretation of the law’s application that is fundamental” she added.

Attorney Bolander expressed that domestic adoptions are fairly simple.  Once a child is located for an independent adoption, that is when the attorney gets involved.  After all requirements are complete, a single court hearing occurs. “Judges are thrilled to be there, and it is considered a very happy day,” she said.  Attorney Bolander also touched upon step-parent adoptions, which are most common, as well as adult adoptions. 

Attorney Markee explained she gets involved when things go wrong in international adoptions. “The world is constantly changing, you deal with the politics of every country, and barriers may arise with the Department of State regulations,”said Markee. Additionally, matters are complicated by the Hague Convention, aninternational treaty which controls adoption and immigration of children. 

Anyone can be a potential client as an adoptive parent or couple; however, it is more difficult for singles or same sex couples. In the United States, birth parents who select the adoptive parents in open adoptions tend to choose heterosexual, married couples. In international adoptions, the majority of countries do not allow singles or same sex couples to adopt at all.