Thankful for the “Helpers”

In this season of Thanksgiving, it occurs to us that we regularly have the privilege of working with and knowing some pretty selfless and incredible “helpers” in our community.

Our clients are grandparents, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, and dear friends who care for vulnerable children, enable elders to remain in their homes, serve as legal guardians, and support people with disabilities (while still encouraging their autonomy.)

It’s very possible that YOU are one of these people.

If so, we want you to know that we see you. We are grateful for you.Your efforts are not invisible. They are, in fact, life-changing.

We are thankful for your hands that help.

Wishing you and yours a lovely and peaceful Thanksgiving…

New Law Gives Grandparents Notice About Adoptions

Is your family considering a stepparent or a kinship adoption?

If so, you should be aware of House Enrolled Act 1245, which took effect in Indiana on July 1st, 2017.

This new law requires certain classes of grandparents to be notified of adoption proceedings.  Perhaps not surprisingly, there is already a healthy amount of debate and varying interpretation surrounding it.  If you would like to learn more about this legislation, you may do so here.

We will be following caselaw and debate on this issue closely.   In the meantime, if your family has any questions about kinship adoption, let us know.

We can help.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month

Did you know that November is annually recognized as National Adoption Awareness Month?

The specific focus of this month is the adoption of children currently in foster care.

While efforts made at the national level certainly help build awareness, participation in local programs, events, and activities by those of us with a direct connection to adoption can often be the most effective way to promote positive perceptions, expose the myths, and draw attention to the tens of thousands of children in foster care who wait and hope for permanent families.

We can truthfully say that working with foster families to ensure permanency for kids is one of the most rewarding parts of our practice. But we also must acknowledge that every adoption, no matter how wonderful, is rooted in loss.

So, while we are privileged to walk alongside families as they legally become what they already are in love and practice, we will never romanticize this work.

Whether you’re a family that wishes to offer sanctuary to an at-risk child, a “first family” who needs support time and tools to help your family thrive, or an adult adoptee seeking support and information about your experience, know that we can help point you towards helpful resources.

In this season of Thanksgiving, we are grateful for those who open their homes and hearts to waiting children. And we are equally grateful for all of the gifts that these children bring with them. . .

national-adoption-month

Examining Adoption

It’s tempting for adoption attorneys to romanticize our work.  After all, we get to come alongside adoptive parents and children as they legally become the family they already are in love and practice.

But we also must acknowledge that every adoption, no matter how wonderful, is rooted in loss.  And this is why we equally emphasize support, education, and advocacy for birth parents and “first families.”

Whether you’re a family that wishes to offer sanctuary to an at-risk child, or a first family who needs support, time, and tools to help your family thrive, know that we can help point you towards helpful resources.

It is our privilege to represent adoptive families, expectant parents, and birth parents.  But know this-our work is not motivated solely by an adoption decree.

Examining Adoption

The Adoption Tax Credit

Several of our wonderful adoptive families will be gritting their teeth a little less this tax season due to the Adoption Tax Credit, which can help offset qualified adoption expenses by reducing their tax liability.

It’s a rare day when taxes can give you something to smile about, but this credit can make adoption possible for some families who could not otherwise afford it.

Want to learn more about the Adoption Tax Credit?  Check with your qualified tax preparer or see this link from the IRS website:

http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Adoption-Benefits-FAQs

Want to learn more about growing your family through adoption? Let us know.

We can help.

The Narrative of the Adoption Experience

Today, we were reminded of the importance of being mindful of the narrative surrounding the adoption experience.

 When well-meaning acquaintances mention that an adopted child or adoptive parent is “lucky,” they may unintentionally forget that the adoption experience (however wonderful) is almost always rooted in deep grief and loss.  While we are incredibly privileged to play a small part in the redemptive process of adoption, we always want to gently encourage others to be mindful of the narrative for all adoptees and their families.

National Adoption Day 2012

Did you know that National Adoption Day is November 8th?   Our office will be at the Marion County Courthouse to finalize a pending adoption and to join other colleagues and families in recognizing the event.

National Adoption Day in Indiana  is a collaborative effort between the Children’s Bureau, DCS, adoption attorneys, and private adoption agencies.  Anyone interested in adoption is invited and welcome to join the festivities.  There will be plenty of adoption resources, vendor booths, snacks, and complimentary family photos for guests.

The event will be from 10:00am-4:00pm at Indianapolis Marion County Building, 200 E. Washington Street, 17th Floor. Vendors will be located on the first floor beginning at 11:30.    

 Hope you can join us!

Broad Ripple Gazette Feature Story

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 . . .

http://www.broadripplegazette.com/

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.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month

Did you know that November is recognized as National Adoption Awareness Month?

 We believe that all adoption-related issues are important, although the specific focus of this month is the adoption of children currently in foster care.

Activities and celebrations are kicked off with a Presidential Proclamation, and while efforts made at the national level certainly help build awareness of adoption, participation in local programs, events, and activities by those of us with a direct connection to adoption can often be the most effective way to promote positive perceptions, debunk the myths, and draw attention to the tens of thousands of children in foster care who wait and hope for permanent families.

If you have an interest in fostering a child or supporting adoptive families for children in the foster care system in Indiana, we encourage you to join us and the Indiana Department of Child Service at an adoption awareness event to be held this weekend, November 19th, 2011 at the Family Support Center at 1575 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street in Indianapolis from 11-3pm.  Attendance is free and open to all ages.

Several adoption professionals will be in attendance to answer questions, offer resources, and promote awareness of the need for adoptive families for children in the foster care system in Indiana.

Working with foster families to ensure permanency for kids is one of the most rewarding parts of our practice.     In this season of Thanksgiving, we are grateful for the foster families who open their homes and hearts to waiting children.

Thank you.

Resources for Birth Parents-On Your Feet Foundation

Our office has the privilege of regularly representing birth mothers. We recognize that making an adoption plan for a child isn’t just a moment in time.  It is a lifelong decision that can require long term support.     Community resources like On Your Feet Foundation can help. 

http://www.oyff.org/about.html

 OYFF was founded by adoptive parents, professionals, and a birth parent who recognized the need for practical help for other birth parents who had chosen adoption for their child.  They are a small, nonprofit organization that provides personal support to birth parents to help them get “back on their feet.”  OYFF focuses on case management and coaching, monetary grants, and the creation of a community of other birth parents.