Search and Reunion—Information for Adoptive Parents

Reunion with a birth parent is often a beautiful option providing closure, information, and answered questions for many adoptees. No two situations are ever alike and only some adoptees seek out this opportunity. It is important as an adoptive parent to be supportive as your child considers this option and what it may unveil.

Children often wonder who they look like and if they have become like their adoptive parents in mannerisms, speech, and behaviors, or if they have taken after individuals they have never truly known, such as their birthparents. Imagine looking in a mirror and not knowing whose eyes or smile you have and wondering if you will hurt you parents’ hearts have by seeking out the answers. This may be a great bonding experience for you and your child as you show her that you love her so much and can share her, without making her feel torn.

Reunions can go a few different ways so being prepared is essential. It may provide answers to questions your child has pondered. Your child ultimately may want to close the door and move on with life as she knows it, or this may be an opportunity for her family or support system to grow by adding her biological family into the circle. She, and you, need to be prepared that you may not know which path she will choose until she meets them. Perhaps the biological family will not meet your child’s fairytale expectations, the reunion may be a single episode in her life, or she may decide that there is never enough love in this world and she can love her biological parents as well as her parents from the many beautiful lessons you have taught her. This will be a life-changing event for the child and her identity so please consider an adoption support group or adoption counselor for the child or your whole family unit as this proceeds, and consult books, articles, and professionals as support . The open dialogue you and your child share will be a wonderful asset as this path unfolds.


AAAA Hails Passage of Accuracy for Adoptees Act

The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (“AAAA”) proudly announced that the President has signed into law S.1614, the Accuracy for Adoptees Act. This bill, proposed and shepherded by AAAA and passed by the U.S. Congress last month, helps adoptive children who had been given inaccurate birthdates abroad. This is a common problem when children are abandoned at orphanages without any birth record. When U.S. adoptions are processed, the foreign country assigns a “best guess” birth date that is then used in processing adoption and immigration paperwork.  These birth dates can sometimes be vastly inaccurate. While there is an existing state court process in the U.S. where these families can present medical, educational, and dental evidence to support a request for an amended date of birth that is appropriate for the child’s true age, U.S. agencies will not accept these amended dates. As a result these children end up with two different dates of birth – one on their federal documents (e.g. passport, social security card) and the new date on their state documents (e.g. birth certificate, driver’s license). This creates a multitude of problems as these children age, from improper school placement, inability to get a passport, and even accusations of identity fraud when two different dates of birth exist for one child.

The Accuracy for Adoptees Act solves these problems by requiring federal agencies to recognize amended birth dates as issued by state courts. This bill removes the bureaucracy, red tape, and endless dead ends that these families currently face.

Karen S. Law, adoption attorney in Ashburn, VA and Co-Chair of AAAA’s international adoption subcommittee, writes, “I started noticing what an unimaginable hardship this was causing for children and families – and the more I talked with my colleagues, the more I became aware of its breadth. Many of these children had suffered horrific loss and pain, and then arrive in the U.S. to become victims of a bureaucratic process with no right answer. I am so proud to have been able to contribute to this legislation which will finally give these children and their families some peace of mind.”

The bill was proposed by AAAA members who had faced this issue and its long term consequences time and time again. In an effort to protect these children, AAAA partnered with adoption champions, Senators Klobuchar (D-MN) and Blunt (R-MO) and Representatives Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Karen Bass (D-CA), who introduced the bill in the Senate and House respectively.  Only 72 bills have been signed into law by the President this Congress and the Accuracy for Adoptees Act is one of them.  Of these 72, 11 extend or reauthorize existing laws and 7 rename federal facilities.

Donald Cofsky, President of AAAA, opined, “I am extremely pleased and proud that the U.S. House and Senate passed and the President signed this commonsense legislation – placing adoptive families and children ahead of partisan politics. We owe immense thanks to all of the bill’s cosponsors for their dedication to adoptive families and for their tireless efforts in ushering this bill through the Senate. I cannot overstate the importance of this legislation and the positive impact that it will have on adopted children and their families.”

Adopted Individuals Find New Ways to Track Roots in Internet Age

Our firm also works with adoptees in their search & reunion efforts, especially considering that a court order is often needed to facilitate the contact in Florida: