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Denise M. Bierly

Denise Bierly’s Answers

65 total


  • I was awarded temp guardianship of my nephew until the next hearing in August. Does that prevent the Mother from taking him?

    I have been asking about this matter on a lot I feel like.I was awarded temp. guardianship at my first hearing, to last until my next hearing in Aug.The mother is very angry about this whole situation and is threatening to come take the baby.My co...

    Denise’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    First let me say you are to be commended for providing a loving safe and secure home for your nephew.
    I am an adoption and guardianship attorney in Pennsylvania. I am not licensed to practice in California or any state other than Pennsylvania. Guardianship laws vary tremendously from state to state. As a general rule, a Guardianship Order puts you in the place of your nephew's birthparents when it comes to making health care and education decisions for him. An continuation of the guardianship after the hearing will hinge on a selecting a nurturing setting that is in his best interest. You definitely need to have legal representation at the hearing.
    The best resource for you is the website: adoptionattorneys.org. Click on the graphic of California on the U.S. map. You will find a list of California Fellows in the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. This is a group of lawyers who have achieved special distinction in their fields of adoption and guardianship. I wish you good fortune in your quest to provide permanency and stability for this little baby.

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  • Our address was given by a doctor's office to the birth family of the baby we have adopted via closed adoption. Can we sue?

    A secretary at a physicians office gave the bio grandmother my first and last name as well as address. This was suppose to be confidential information. Big violation of our privacy. We were to be known only by first names.

    Denise’s Answer

    I am an adoption attorney in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I am not licensed to practice in Maryland or any state other than Pennsylvania. Adoption laws vary tremendously from state to state. It strikes me that your question is both a health law question and an adoption question. Pennsylvania has certain penalties in its Adoption Act for individuals and offices in positions of authority who violate confidentiality without written permission. Most state statutes have specific provisions that protect the confidentiality of those people in an adoption triad, and adoption records are usually sealed as a testament to the heightened area of privacy.
    Your best resource is: adoptionattorneys.org. You click on the graphic of Maryland on the U.S. map and will find a list of Maryland Fellows in the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. These are a group of lawyers who have achieved special distinction in their field.
    Some states allow for enforceable Post-Adoption Contact Agreements. Perhaps since the identifying information has already been disclosed, you might consider such a formal, court-enforceable agreement as a method to set boundaries regarding contact moving forward. I wish you good fortune in finding a healthy way to protect you family's privacy.

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  • My girlfriend had a child with my cousin and he wants me to adopt her and my girlfriend does to so do i how

    my cousin billy the father will sign up everything for me to adopt i was in brooklyn (child) life when she was 1 month and she knows me as dad lindsay(mom) say she want me to adopt her as well how can i do this

    Denise’s Answer

    I am an adoption attorney in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I am not licensed to practice in Illinois, or any state other than Pennsylvania. Adoption laws vary tremendously from state to state.
    You are referring to a legal procedure commonly known as a second-parent adoption. Most states have a process whereby a biological parent can consent to the termination of his parental rights and another parent, unmarried to the mother can create a relationship as the legal parent. The best resource for you is the website: adoptionattorneys.org. Click on the graphic of Illinois on the U.S. map. You will find a list of lawyers who have achieve special distinction in their field. I wish you the best in providing permanency and stability for this little girl.

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  • Would I be able to adopt my 13 month old grandson? I live in Baltimore, Maryland and he's in temp custody w my daughter his aunt

    His father is my son and he's incarcerated. His mother was charged with negligence and my grandson was placed with a foster parent for three weeks. Currently my youngest daughter has temporary custody of him and she and I take care of him. When h...

    Denise’s Answer

    First, let me say I am so pleased to hear your grandson is doing well since you and your daughter have been able to provide stability for him. He is fortunately to have family that can step in, when needed. Grandparent adoption is very common. The first step in any adoption is the termination of parental rights of the biological parents. Should they desire to cooperate, you would then be able to create a new legal relationship with him as his legal parent.
    The best resource for you is: adoptionattorneys.org. Click on the graphic of Maryland on the U.S. map. You will find a list of Maryland Fellows in the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. These are credentialed lawyers who have achieved distinction in their field of the law. I wish you and your family good fortune in continuing to provide safety and stability for your grandson.

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  • My daughter is 9 her father past away when she was 13mnths what steps does her stepDad need to do to legally adopt her

    My daughter is 9 her father past away when she was 13mnths what steps does her stepDad need to do to legally adopt her, and will I need a Lawyer are there just filing fees?

    Denise’s Answer

    I am an adoption lawyer licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. You do need a lawyer to process a step-parent adoption. As an exhibit to the Petition for Adoption your lawyer will need to attach an original death certificate for her father. Your lawyer can easily obtain a copy through Pennsylvania vital records, if the death occurred in Pennsylvania. Compared to many other types of adoptions, step-parent adoptions are much less costly. Fortunately for you, there is a terrific adoption lawyer up in Erie I have worked with over the years. I would be happy to give you his name if you like. Send me a private email and I will respond with his name and phone number. Wishing you and your family good fortune in creating stability for your daughter.

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  • Can I obtain my actual birth certificate...I'm adopted?

    Both natural parents are deceased. I am 66 and would like to get mother's medical history.

    Denise’s Answer

    I am an adoption attorney licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Adoption laws vary tremendously from state to state, so if you were born in a state other than Pennsylvania, you will need to consult with and adoption attorney in that state.
    If you were born in Pennsylvania, two birth certificates were issued from Pennsylvania Vital Records, but the original is under seal. Only children born after April 24, 2011 will have access to information on their original birth certificates, and then only of the birthparent makes the choice to allow the disclosure. After your adoption finalization, an amended birth certificate was issued for you and provided to your adoptive parents. An amended birth certificate looks much like an original, except the date of issuance is often quite a few months to a year after the birth.
    Having your original birth certificate, however, will not mean you will be able to get health history information about your biological parents.
    The way to access health information is through filing a Petition under the Pennsylvania Adoption Act. You are automatically entitled to non-identifying information, and through an intermediary, may be able to get identifying information about your birthfamily. In the alternative, if you were placed through an adoption agency, that agency may have a streamlined way to deal with what we call "search and reunion". If you know the agency name, contacting a caseworker from the agency would be a good first step. If not, a great resource for you is: adoptionattorneys.org. Click on the graphic of the state where you were born on the U.S. map. You will find a list of that state's Fellows in the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. This is a credentialed group of lawyers who have achieved special distinction in their field of practice. Many state legislators are opening adoptee records, so I would not be surprised if you are able to get access to this information in Pennsylvania in a few years. I wish you good fortune in gathering information about your genetic health history. All the best to you.

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  • How would I go about getting guardianship of an unborn child?

    My wife and I were informed that our 15 year old daughter is pregnant. We talked with her and the father and his parents. It was agreed upon that my wife and I should take guardianship of the child untill my daughter and her boyfriend are able too...

    Denise’s Answer

    I am an adoption and guardianship attorney in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I am not licensed to practice in Missouri or any state other than Pennsylvania. Guardianship laws vary tremendously from state to state. In Pennsylvania, after the child was born, we would IMMEDIATELY file for guardianship. Attached to the Guardianship Petition would be a Consent and Joinder signed by your daughter and her boyfriend. The paperwork could be prepared ahead of the expected birth so it could be filed with your Court quickly. The sooner it is filed, the more likely to get a prompt hearing date. It is likely,an attorney will be appointed to represent your daughter and she will also be questioned by the Judge to make sure she is making the guardianship choice freely and without duress.
    In my practice, I also would have your daughter sign a Health Care Power of Attorney on the date of birth so you and your wife will have the capacity to make medical decisions. This could be crucial should the newborn need emergency treatment before the actual guardianship hearing.
    The best resource for you is: adoptionattorneys.org. Go to the graphic of Missouri and click on the U.S. map. You will then have a list of Missouri Fellows in the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. These are lawyers who have achieved special distinction in the field of adoption, guardianship of minors and other areas of the law that benefit children. I believe there are at least 8 Fellows in Missouri.
    (As an aside, you might consider making sure your health insurance carrier will add a child to your policy if you are his/her guardian.)
    I'm sorry your family is in this difficult situation. It is terrific that everyone involved can agree on a concrete plan that will create stability for the child. I wish your family good fortune.

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  • I am a single mother just diagnosed with cancer. I am looking to give guardianship of my minor son to his god mother

    Am i able to do this temporary guardianship out of court and quickley?

    Denise’s Answer

    I am an adoption and guardianship attorney practicing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I am not licensed to practice in Arizona or any state other than Pennsylvania.
    First, let me express how sorry I am about your diagnosis. It must be terrifying for you--especially as a single mother. I wish you godspeed in your full recovery.
    In Pennsylvania, we would file an Emergency Petition for Guardianship asking for his Godmother to be appointed IMMEDIATELY and then a full hearing would be held approximately 20-23 days later. Our County Judges would be very eager to help your family sort out the crisis. However, the rules and process for guardianships vary tremendously from state to state. Your best resource is the website: adoptionattorneys.org. Click on the graphic of Arizona on the U.S. map. You will find a list of Fellows in the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. These are attorneys who have achieved special distinction in the fields of adoption and guardianship of minors. There are five or six Fellows in Arizona in geographically diverse part of the state.
    I wish you good fortune in creating stability for your son during this very difficult health trial you are experiencing. I also suggest checking with the local Chapter of your American Cancer Society to see if there might be support help for your family.

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  • Can my illegal husband adopt my children?

    I have 3 children from earlier relationships. We don't have any children together, but my husband is everything to them. My two older children ask if they can change their last name to his so that he can be their "real dad".

    Denise’s Answer

    I am an adoption attorney practicing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I am not licensed to practice in Missouri or any state other than Pennsylvania. Adoption laws vary tremendously from state to state. The fact that your husband is undocumented does not necessarily mean he will be automatically disqualified from adopting the children. Any adoption is a two step process. The first step is to terminate the parental rights of the child's biological parent. Perhaps in your case, the birthfathers of the children will cooperate.
    The best resource for you is the website: adoptionattorneys.org. Click on the graphic of Missouri on the U.S. map. You will find a list of Missouri Fellows in the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. This is a group of lawyers who have achieved special distinction in their field. If after consultation with one of these attorneys, you find out an adoption is not advisable, you might want to consider a name change, as an alternative. Although that will not create a parental relationship between your husband and the children (he would not be added as a parent to their birth certificate) it could meet an emotional need they have to share his name. I wish you good fortune in bringing permanency and stability to your family.

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  • Should I get my step children's citizenship from Mexico or here?

    I have 4 step children that have lived here in the united states undocumented for 8 years the ages are 10-15 would it be better to do their citizenship from Mexico or hire a lawyer and do it from here?

    Denise’s Answer

    I am an adoption attorney in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I an not licensed to practice law in Michigan or any state other than Pennsylvania. Adoption laws vary tremendously from state to state. What you are asking are BOTH Immigration Law and Adoption Law questions. Those are two highly, highly detailed areas of the law. You need to hire an attorney with expertise in BOTH those practice areas.
    Part of the reason this is so complicated is that the U.S. and Mexico are both signatories to the Hague Convention on Adoption. This is a Treaty that requires a determination of what Country is each child's "habitual residence". Often the answer to that question drives how you proceed.
    You need to be aware that time is of the essence. The child's adoption MUST be finalized by the time the child reaches a certain age. (I vaguely recall it may be age 16). Therefore, you should seek competent legal advise immediately.
    The best resource for you is the website: adoptionattorneys.org. Click on the graphic of Michigan on the U.S. map. You will find a list of Michigan Fellows in the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. These are lawyers who have achieved special distinction in their field.
    My other thought is these children may benefit by the Obama Administration's recent decision to allow deferment of any deportation of children who meet certain criteria. You may want to address that issue at the same time you pursue the adoption and adjustment in status seeking a path for the children to U.S. Citizenship.
    I wish your family good fortune in pursuing permanency and stability for this sibling group.

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