Special thanks to Alan Hague, Mario Morone, and our friends at the Broad Ripple Gazette! Our feature story is on the the front page of the current (March 16th) issue. So pick up a copy when you’re in the neighborhood. A link to the Gazette and the text of the article is below . . .
Family practice attorney Anastasia Demos Mills described her initial interest in adoption law and how it influenced her career.
“I decided to go to law school primarily because of my desire to become involved in child advocacy and the adoption process. I really did have a passion and interest in this area pretty early-even during high school. I traveled quite a bit before and during law school with the goal of learning more about the needs of children and families worldwide. I spent some time working in a remarkably well-run orphanage in Romania and with another humanitarian aid organization in Mexico.
You might remember that, during the 1990s, there were a lot of heartbreaking news stories about the mistreatment and neglect of children in institutions, particularly in Eastern Europe. Fortunately, the privately-run orphanage where I worked was not one of those places. There were probably about 70 kids that lived there at that time and some of them were sibling groups. The staff there was wonderful and it really did seem to be as much of a familial environment as one could have in an institutional setting.
Some of the children were adopted but others, of course, remained. As kids “aged out,” many would choose to remain on property (the orphanage sat on a large piece of land). International donors would help to provide funding so that the young adults could work with staff to construct a home on the property, where they could then live indefinitely. Some of them even helped to raise their younger siblings or other children in these individual family-like homes because support and resources were so close by.
Working in that environment was a really transformative time for me. It definitely solidified my desire to learn even more about the different ways that families are built.”
Long before pursuing her law degree, however, Stasia made a prelude into music: “My dad ran a moving company when I was a kid. He regularly moved elderly folks from their homes into smaller condominiums or retirement communities and, as a part of the moving process, some of these clients would sell or donate various items that they no longer needed or used. Dad would reduce their bill in exchange for any musical instruments that they no longer needed or wanted. So, growing up, there were always a variety of musical instruments around the house. I learned to play piano, harmonica, and accordion with my parents (we had lots of family sing-a-longs) and picked up the guitar in college.
I finished law school at I.U. Indy in 1999 and, around that time, I was doing a lot of songwriting and playing music as my part-time job. I ended up playing with an incredibly talented group of guys (Tad Armstrong, Aaron Stroup, and Gonzalo Dies) in a band called Middletown. We played quite a lot locally and regionally for several years and released a few albums. It really was so fun and fulfilling and we had the privilege of playing with (and learning from) some well-known artists along the way. The touring and travel schedule, however, didn’t lend itself well to a traditional full-time position in a law firm, so my former law partner, Jason Reyome, and I decided to start our Broad Ripple practice in 2001. For the first few years of our practice, I was still playing music part-time and he held another contract position at the Public Defender Agency while we cultivated our client base,” Stasia said.
They built their law practice in a unique way. “Miraculously, we never did any traditional advertising and for the ten years that we worked together, our practice steadily grew via referrals from existing clients and other colleagues. Mr. Reyome departed for a judicial position in early 2011 and I’m so proud of his accomplishments.
A lot changed during our ten years in practice together. I got married in 2002 to my husband, Matt Mills (owner of Mills Catering at http://www.millscatering.com – events around the city that he has caters include the IU School of Medicine and Law School, Indianapolis Art Center and weddings) and our little guy, Silas, came along shortly thereafter. My musical commitments shifted closer to home, my time at the office increased, and I now perform solo for more family-friendly events with the local parks department, libraries, and summer festivals (along with the occasional gig at the Corner Wine Bar or the Indy Hostel). I do have a guitar at my office and have often been known to pick it up after a particularly challenging phone call or to serenade a client who asks,” she mentioned.
“My individual successor law practice has evolved to focus primarily on domestic adoptions, guardianships for kids and mentally incapacitated adults, estate planning and elder law. It’s a privilege to work with families,” Stasia noted, “and I love resurrecting the lost art of the house call, particularly for some of my elderly estate planning and Medicaid planning clients.”
Her law practice location at 5954 North College Avenue is an ideal one. “I’m truly thankful to have an office in Broad Ripple and I really do enjoy my job. So many people come to me at some sort of crossroads or life transition. It is very important to me to have an approachable, welcoming environment in which to meet with clients from all different walks of life. The garden outside is intentional. The play area inside is too. I expect to be here for a long time and I’m so grateful to all of our wonderful clients, colleagues and friends who support what we do and trust us during some of life’s biggest transitions. More information about Stasia’s legal practice and community involvement can be found at: http://www.demosmillslaw.com or by calling 205-4357.
Three of Stasia’s four grandparents emigrated from Greece to America, going through Ellis Island. Her name, “Anastasia” is Greek for “resurrection” and “Demos” means “of the people.” It a unique fit for her work in bringing together children with their adoptive parents.
As Stasia Mills helps families create legacies for their loved ones, she is also creating a legacy of her own in adoption and family law in Broad Ripple Village.