Earlier this year our own Christine Poarch was named a fellow of the prestigious Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA or “Quad-A”). Fellows of AAAA are considered legal thought leaders and are a highly vetted, experienced group.
Last week Christine attended the annual conference in Seattle for the first time. So we sat down with her, over a lovely emerald city coffee to ask what she thought of it.
What was the conference?
I just returned from the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys annual conference in Seattle. This was my first year attending because only Fellows can attend the annual conference and I was just accepted this past April into the Academy. I was among 34 new fellows who attended the conference, and 300 or more other adoption lawyers. There are only about 500 Fellows worldwide.
Why did you go? What were you hoping to get from it /learn/connect?
All new Fellows are required to attend the first annual conference after they’re accepted, but honestly, that wasn’t a burden. The sheer number of adoption attorneys, like me, who believe that adoption law isn’t something you dabble in, that it’s an area that requires practitioners to develop competencies beyond the knowledge of state law and procedures, was inspiring. And I got to meet a number of colleagues who, like me, have grown a practice where immigration and adoption law meet.
I also met adoption lawyers in person that we had worked with on client matters in the past and other members whose names were familiar to me online. AAAA Fellows are incredibly generous in connecting on and offline, but having some facetime with folks that I have worked with or will be working with was great.
The benefit of this conference wasn’t just being among like-minded professionals, it was also the wealth of resources it gathers under one roof–both in vendors/companies that help you offer better family adoption lawyer resources, but especially in the combined experience of its attendees and presenters.
The “Freshman 2019”, including our own Christine Poarch (11th from the left).
What are your three main takeaways? and what do they mean for prospective parents, families?
I plan on attending this conference every year because the work of this organization goes beyond furthering attorneys’ understanding of concepts like abandonment and trauma and their effect on adopted families. It’s also about advocacy on issues that matter to adoptive families. For example, the fact that the tax code doesn’t permit adoptive parents to take the Child Care Credit when they are not in receipt of the permanent social security number for their child. The conference was a platform not just for networking and knowledge-sharing, but also pointed calls to action on issues that affect adoptive families and the adoption process.
Where their specific speakers that were impressive, had things that resonated with you?
The first plenary session was an in-depth review by Neha Desai of issues related to migrant child detention, much of which I knew as an immigration attorney. It was moving to watch attorneys who work with children, but not within immigration law witness and respond to the injustice of child detention. And it’s not just at our southern border, but also at youth detention facilities including ones in our own backyard here in Virginia. The other sessions I attended led by Stephen Pennypacker about the new accreditation process for international adoption agencies and ethical considerations in representation by Mark Johnson, was also well-presented, informative and helpful.
Worthwhile? Main takeaway? What two things are you going to do as a result of going?
I’m certainly going to be more involved in the International Committee work and have already reached out to those established AAAA members on that Committee about what’s needed.
If there’s a main takeaway from the meeting it is that AAAA members are committed to constantly improving their practice. They are willing to put significant resources in play to further better representation for clients and that they’re willing to engage governmental and regulatory agencies to advocate for their clients. It was also so refreshing to see how they are so generous with their time and knowledge.
Thank you, Christine.
Poarch Law are experts in the legal adoption process and will help you every step of the way to navigate domestic and international adoptions, private adoption, foster care and open adoptions, semi-open and closed adoptions. We will help you complete what can seem like a daunting amount of paperwork, assist with your plans, adoptive parent profile, home study, and ICPC submissions if adopting from another state.
Our promise is that our friendly and attentive team will be by your side, managing the case to a happy and final conclusion.
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