Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Jennifer Cochran-Green testifies on two adoption related bills

On March 27, 2017, Ms. Cochran-Green testified before the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee on two adoption-related bills, SB 329 and
SB 1362.  You can watch the live testimony here. Ms. Cochran-Green's testimony is the Part 1 of the State Affairs Meeting on March 27.  Her testimony is in the second hour and she testified separately on each bill.

SB1362 is authored by Sen. Campbell in which she proposes to changes to the voluntary adoption registry.  Ms. Cochran-Green testified her opposition to the bill because much of the proposed bill is already codified in the Texas Family Code and is common practice among adoption agencies.  

SB329 is authored by Senator Creighton in which he proposes to allow adult adopted persons to obtain their original birth certificates at the age of 18.  Ms. Cochran-Green supports this bill as it allows adopted persons in closed adoptions primarily from the 1930s-1990s to seek reunions with their birth parents and obtain medical history that is needed.  This will facilitate direct contact and hopefully avoid the expensive and time-consuming process of using third party intermediaries and bringing suits for courts to open adoption records.  The new bill will allow contact between the adopted person and birth parent (if wanted) and potentially avoid what is happening now on social media and DNA websites where biological parents are being "outed" due to matches within their families and the adopted child.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Introducing Our Mobile App!

The Law Office of Jennifer R. Cochran P.C. just launched a mobile app which can be downloaded to any smart phone via Appsme here or clicking on the Appsme button on the sidebar.  Now, you can stay up to date on adoption and family law news, office announcements, and blog posts without having to scroll through all those "posts" on our favorite but distracting social network!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Nothing Says I Love You Like a Prenup

The term “Prenuptial Agreement" is about as popular as the term “Mother-In-Law”.  People are afraid to talk about them before getting married for fear of tainting the relationship, or worse, breaking up the engagement.  Truth be told, “prenups” aren’t just for celebrities anymore.  They are particularly important for couples in second marriages, blended families, or those who want to protect a business, family gifts, or inheritance.

BEFORE you say "I do" and ride off into the sunset, consider the following reasons for a prenup:
  1. To determine financial obligations amongst yourselves should the marriage end versus relying on the expensive process of court intervention.  Couples can make decisions on how they manage their assets better and cheaper than the courts.  For example, you can set spousal maintenance in advance if you know that one spouse will sacrifice their career to be a stay-at-home parent and raise the children. 
  2. Going through the process of negotiating a prenup can help you become more open and transparent as a couple.  You and your partner will better understand each other's needs, concerns, and motivations as you enter your marriage.  You'll benefit from reaching an agreement through discussion and compromise, and further demonstrate that you two can successfully work through potentially difficult issues.
  3. Finances are one of the leading causes of stress in a marriage.  The conversation is unavoidable when you’re married so by disclosing all of your financial information up front (income, debts, assets, and inheritances), it could help you avoid future financial arguments. 
  4. For business owners, a prenup can ensure that your ownership is protected thus protecting your business partnership and interests. 

Getting a prenup doesn't have to be awkward or embarrassing.  Instead, focus on the overall benefits of having one.  Not only will it give you confidence that you'll be protected, but the process of getting one might actually bring you and your future spouse closer together.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

For Families Affected by the Closure of Independent Adoption Center

The adoption community has been shocked by the abrupt closing of Independent Adoption Center, a nationwide agency that has been placing children with families for 34 years. If you have been affected by the closure, Jennifer Cochran-Green recommends the following:

1)  Call a family or civil litigation attorney in your local area/state immediately to review the contract you signed with the agency and advise you on what legal remedies you have in your particular situation. If you've already been matched, you are most likely able to proceed to finalization.

2)  Request your file from the branch that you have been working with as soon as possible. Contact the person you have been corresponding with or the Branch Manager to arrange for pick up.

3)  Prepare to submit a claim in the bankruptcy proceeding.  Once a trustee is appointed, they will send out notices to creditors and clients of the proceeding.  Gather all of your receipts indicating how much money you have paid the IAC, statements you have received from IAC, and the contract.

4)  Report IAC to the licensing agent in your state and demand an investigation. In Texas, that agency is the Residential Child Care Licensing (RCCL) division of the Department of Family and Protective Services. You can report a concern about IAC or any licensed adoption agency via a toll-free hotline (1-800-252-5400) or their website at https://www.txabusehotline.org.

5)  Tell your story and reach out to other IAC families for support.  You are part of an amazing adoption community of prospective adoptive parents, adoptive parents, birth parents, adopted persons, and adoption professionals. There are several Facebook groups who have been formed by IAC families who want to connect and share their stories. There's also education based organizations that provide support to all members of the adoption triad such as Adoption Knowledge Affiliates (AKA).  AKA is in based in Austin, Texas and has support groups that meet the 3rd Monday of every month after their education meeting. There's a support group for each member of the triad - adopted persons, birth families, and adoptive parents/prospective adoptive parents. 

6)  Don't give up hope! There are many avenues to parenthood through adoption whether it's through an adoption agency, foster-to-adopt, international adoption, etc. Be sure to ask those you know who have adopted about their experiences with a particular agency they used.