Course - Law
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This seminar will focus on a variety of contemporary issues in adoption law, including the implications of race, ethnicity, and tribal membership for adoption processes; the role of sexual orientation in eligibility to adopt and the recognition of same-sex parent adoptions across state lines; the changing phenomenon of international adoption; the availability of legal remedies for adoptive parents who discover that their children have serious medical needs; and the movement towards open adoption and post-adoption contact between birth families and children.  In addition, the seminar will cover the legal status of unmarried fathers in the adoption process, including state laws that are designed to facilitate adoption over the father’s objection.  Also, we’ll examine the federal government’s prioritization of adoption as the preferred permanency option in child welfare policy.  Finally, the seminar will explore the varying meanings of adoption in different subcultures, including American Indian tribes, and the psychological impact of adoption on children and families.


Adoption Law: Theory, Policy and Practice by Mabry & Kelly (2007)

Course Format

We will meet in weekly sessions of an hour and 40 minutes. I will assign readings for each week and will ask designated students to help lead the weeks discussion. We will have guest speakers on a frequent basis, including adoption attorneys, juvenile court judges, and tribal attorneys. During the semester, I hope to arrange for the class to attend an adoption proceeding in Pima County Juvenile Court

Written Assignments

Research paper (15 pages for 2 unit; 30 pages for substantial paper, 3 unit option).

Type of Exam

No exam.

Basis for grading

The seminar is a graded, 2-credit seminar, with a 3-credit option for students who choose to write a substantial paper. The grade for the seminar will be based on a research paper, an oral presentation in class based on the research, and class participation during the semester. For the 2-credit option, the paper should be 15 pages in length, typed and double-spaced, and should focus on a recent court decision or legislative enactment on any aspect of adoption law. For the 3-credit option, the paper should be at least 30 pages in length, typed and double-spaced, and should focus on any aspect of adoption law or, more broadly, on any aspect of children and the law. For that option, students must submit two drafts of the paper before the final version. I will provide a list of suggested paper topics at the beginning of the semester.

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