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Archive for March, 2007

Where do I begin?

March 23, 2007 | By: | Filed under: Thinking Out Loud

I had a horrendous week.  Really probably one of the most stressful and awful weeks I’ve had since I started this practice and probably one of the top three worst professional weeks I’ve had since I started practicing law in 1993.  It started with the usual stuff, clients who needed things yesterday, agencies with requests for any number of things which were completely normal and manageable but everyone seemed to want their requests handled that second and everyone seemed to have multiple requests that needed to be handled, Judges who wanted things the way they wanted them because they had that power never mind the stress and emotional turmoil they were causing my clients (gee, Ms. Falker let’s have your clients jump through another four hoops before we finalize this adoption even though everything they’ve done so far has been perfectly perfect), and then there was some not-so-nice stuff that is resolved but required me to dig deep and bite my tongue and assert myself at the same time (not an easy thing to do) and ultimately resulted in the not-so-amicable parting of partners (it’s for the best but why does this stuff always get so ugly?).  (I know I am being vague.  part of that is because there are things I can’t talk about because I am bound by privilege and part of it is because I just don’t want to piss anyone else off this week by venting in a public forum (I promised people I wouldn’t permit anyone to rant or vent or flame on this blog).)

It didn’t help that it was freezing and snowy all week. Spring, yeah right!  I didn’t even want to leave the office to get lunch because it was so nasty out and wound up eating junk food, sucking back extra Starbucks, or not eating at all because I didn’t have time.

The weird thing is, in all of the stress there seemed to be one theme.  Everyone was starting over.  And it was hard for everyone of us involved in whomever’s drama was unfolding at that moment; there was always too much too do and not enough time and emotions were running unbelievably high (does anyone know if Mercury was retrograde this week? There has to be some weird astrological explanation for the unusual stress and anxiety and pace this week dumped on me!!).  But now that it’s all over and I am sitting here trying to recover and piece it all together, I am also realizing that it was really cool.  It was a week of new beginnings and new challenges.  Putting aside the lack of sleep (for once I can’t blame this on my kids) from stress . . . everyone with whom I worked was entering a new phase in their journey to parenthood (or as the case may be, helping someone else become a parent) and there was excitement and uber excitement at every turn.   

More than one client was starting over with a new agency after having been "burned" at/by their old agency.  They called needing any number of things (all urgent of course) but they were excited about the promise presented by their new agency.  Many of the clients had not yet selected their egg donor or gestational carrier and wanted to talk about what goes into picking the right person for the job.  They also wanted to talk about how different it was working with their new agency or with an agency after pursuing their path to parenthood independently.  They were excited.  New chances at parenthood, new opportunity.

Adoptions were moving closer to finalization — albeit with bumps in the road that we needed to sort out.  Babies were getting ready to be born and/or go home with their new mom and dad.  People were nervous and tense but it was also very exciting (although I do wish one judge’s chambers had called me back on one question we had this week so that my clients weren’t left hanging all weekend *sigh*).

And then there were people parting ways and moving on without each other.  The change is good for them, and much needed, but came with accusations and ugliness.

And then there was my life.  Someone suggested to me that I buy an egg donation agency.  In a normal week, I would have dismissed it out of hand but this week was so bizarre that I am actually considering it.  Another new opportunity and excitement . . . even if I don’t pursue this opportunity it’s put me in a more expansive state of mind.  Just as my clients are preparing to move into major new phases of their lives so am I. 

Yeah it was a weird stressful sucky week.  But despite the snow outside my office window, maybe Spring and the promise of new beginnings it brings is really here after all.  ?????

 



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What’s On Your Mind?

March 20, 2007 | By: | Filed under: Thinking Out Loud

Want to hear from you . . . friend, client, internet traveler . . . what’s on your mind about reproductive stuff?  I am going to invite a bunch of professionals . . . everyone from reproductive lawyers to social workers to agency owners to post their thoughts and perspectives but it would really help to have some direction and give you all the information you’re most interested in.

Some of the ideas I have about future blog topics include:

What’s going through my egg donor’s mind?  What is the process like for her, why is she doing this and what scared her or made her enthused about egg donation?  I can invite egg donors to post a blog and attorneys who work with egg donors to give their perspective on the process from the donor’s side of life.

What makes a successful egg donation?  How about hearing from agency heads (without the intent to get your business but with the idea to give you important information to make this work for you) and people who’ve gotten pregnant from egg donation cycles?

What do you think of open egg donation and adoption?

What about gestational surrogacy . . . how do people afford to do this the right way, the safe way, and what is the right way and safe way?

Domestic versus international adoption . . . how about we talk about the risks and benefits of each type?  We will invite adoptive parents and professionals to participate in our blogging.

The Home Study . . . what do you really need to do to get ready and how important is it?  Let’s talk to some social workers and adoptive parents about their ideas and thoughts and concerns.

And what about this breast feeding thing.  Can someone who doesn’t give birth really breast feed (YES!).

Does any of this sound good to you?  Do you have other thoughts and ideas?



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Some thoughts on Egg Donation and Adoption

March 19, 2007 | By: | Filed under: Thinking Out Loud

One of the most frequent questions we get in our office is about making the leap to use an egg donor or deciding whether to adopt a baby or child.  How do you make this enormous decision?  What do you need to be thinking about when you’re making it?  How do you know whether one option is right for you?  How do you afford it?  The questions are truly numerous and everyone has different issues to address.  I think my biggest hurdle comes from the financial aspect of it all.  I mean let’s face it, egg donors and adoption are both expensive and both come with risks (although those risks are very different).  I cannot make the decision for anyone, but I try to point out to people the benefits of each type of family building and what you get for your money.

With a properly chosen egg donor, for approximately $15,000, you can build your entire family!  You can have multiple children who are all biologically related from one successful egg donation cycle.  And I am not necessarily talking about multiple births.  A really successful egg donation cycle will result in frozen embryos for future family building.  However, unless you have some insurance to cover some of your medical expenses, or you can deduct some of that $15,000 on your taxes, it’s $15,000 of cold hard cash you have to come up with at one time.  That is really hard for most people to afford!

In contrast, for $15,000 you probably cannot adopt internationally which is the least risky of all types of adoption.  With international adoption you do not have to worry about a birth mother or father choosing to parent before placement of the baby.  However, you probably can complete a domestic adoption for $15,000 or less (this is the average cost of a domestic newborn adoption) and there is a substantial adoption tax credit ($11,300 in 2006) for people who’s income is less than (approximately) $150,000 a year; and the credit phases out until you fail to qualify with an income above (approximately) $190,000.  Plus adoption is guaranteed.  While a particular birth mother (or father) may choose to parent, as long as you stick with your adoption plan a baby or child will come home eventually.  Reproductive endocrinologists can never promise a baby no matter how great a donor may be.  Moreover, if you’re open to foster care adoption your costs may be even lower and you’re protecting the well-being of an infant or child who is facing a life in challenging situations.

The desire to be pregnant and to have a biological connection to our children is primal.  I never judge someone who is willing to spend a lot of money trying to create a biological family or to carry a baby (I spent tens of thousands before choosing to adopt so who am I to judge?).  But these are really tough issues.  Is it worth spending the extra money for the prospect of having multiple biologically related children?  Is it worth taking the risk that a birth parent might choose not to continue with an adoption plan or a court might return a baby or child to his or her biological family in order to maintain that family’s unity because domestic adoption might be more affordable?  I don’t have the answer to these questions but I ponder them every day.

What I really think stinks, is that the infertile have to spend so much money to have a baby!



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Just who is The Stork Lawyer®?

March 19, 2007 | By: | Filed under: Questions about the Office

So who is the Stork Lawyer®? Well, just a normal infertile woman with a J.D. who was bored practicing commercial and employment litigation in New York City, accidentally wrote and published The Infertility Survival Handbook (Riverhead 2004), and then was asked to start a reproductive law practice by her friend and former law school buddy, Amy Demma, JD (Amy now has her own egg donation agency which has a link elsewhere on this page but for convenience sake you also can click here: Prospective Families).

One thing led to another and I wound up writing my second book, The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Adoption (Warner Books 2006), and my law practice grew to include helping people adopt.

But basically, I consider myself an infertile chic with two beautiful children through the miracle of adoption (whom I breast fed, which is now another aspect of our practice, helping intended moms learn about induced lactation for breast feeding babies carried by surrogacy or who were adopted) who happens to be very lucky to have found her bliss helping to build families.

I am a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the American Bar Association (and a bunch of subcommittees on family law, reproductive technology and bioethics), the New York State Bar Association, and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.  I have been practicing law since 1993 and am admitted to practice in the Appellate Division, First Department of the State of New York, and the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.  My admission in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is pending and I hope to become admitted in the State of Texas (just to be as annoyingly ambitious as possible).  As you will learn on this page and our web page (Stork Lawyer Website) we also have attorneys on staff or affiliated with our office who are admitted in New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.  We also have relationships with attorneys elsewhere in the U.S.

But basically, I am just a woman on a mission to help people become parents.  While I may have a whacko reproductive system . . . I am one very blessed woman.  Indeed, my own infertility is what brings me to you and without it . . . I would not be the person I am today with the wonderful richness brought from parenting two amazing children and helping and watching others experience the same.  Like I said . . . BLESSED.

This is Me:
Elizabeth Swire Falker, Esq., The Stork Lawyer®



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Hello World!

March 19, 2007 | By: | Filed under: Thinking Out Loud

I was just thinking about the symmetry of the title of the StorkLawyer Blogging to Build Your Family weblog’s first post . . . Hello World indeed!  As babies come into this world we often see pictures and announcements that say "hello world" on them . . . that is what we do at StorkLawyer.com and what we will talk about in the posts on this weblog . . . helping people bring babies into the world and into their families.  It’s a really cool way to make a living and I feel very blessed to have been given this opportunity to participate in such an intimate way in people’s lives.  Helping people realize dreams is such an amazing thing to witness.  Danielle Bifulci (my associate) and I were talking today about starting a baby wall . . . like in an obstetrician’s office where they have the pictures of all of the babies the doctor has helped bring into the world.  Like I said, it’s really cool to know we help grow families.

What do we do you wonder?  Well, just about anything you could need if you’re infertile or having trouble having a baby . . . or otherwise interested in adoption . . . from consulting services for infertility treatment to help you figure out the "what next" in your treatment options (intrauterine insemination or IVF?) to helping you with almost any aspect of egg donation, gestational surrogacy, embryo donation to starting an adoption plan (we even help you decide how to adopt if you can’t decide between domestic and international adoption).  We do it all.  Legal services, personal services . . . just listening.

This weblog will be devoted to talking about decision-making for people trying to have a baby or expand their families using assisted reproductive technologies like egg donation or those interested in adoption.  Have a question that someone who has been through infertility and adoption might be able to answer, post it here.  Need to vent about your doctor or how hard and expensive this stuff all, start a topic.  Need answers about what your egg donation or gestational surrogcay agency is telling you and want to know the insider’s perspective (without trying to get your business — I promise), post it here or see our “Insider’s Advice”.

If you want to know more about our office click here StorkLawyer Website

Email me

And thank you for your patience as we get up and running!

Liz Falker

Elizabeth Swire Falker, Esq.
The StorkLawyer®



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