Each year A Child’s Hope and Parker Herring Law Group receive brightly colored holiday cards from families whose lives have touched ours during their adoption or surrogacy journey. Although I think about each family throughout the year, as I look at the cards and see the smiling faces of the ever-growing children, I again feel the emotions of when those families were created. What joy!
Creating Lasting Bonds
Adoption and surrogacy are emotional journeys, connecting, in a special way, the attorney and support team with the parents and children. This year, one of the cards we received was from a family that adopted triplets 18 years ago — three boys who are now coming of age. I looked at the picture and remembered the phone call from Kenny, the adoptive father, as he stood outside the nursery window as he described to me while one, then two, then three little boys were wheeled into the nursery. Back then, phones didn’t have cameras, but he created a picture for me with his words that I will never forget.
The heartwarming adoption journey of Kenny and Melinda and their three boys will always be a part of me. I am grateful that my life’s work gives me that emotional connection. I feel an extra special connection with Kenny and Melinda as my middle son, whom I adopted, turns 18 this year, too.
In the Beginning
To see how my life’s work has affected the lives of others is what I dreamed of in 1999. At that time, I adopted my oldest son. His adoption was extremely stressful and expensive, mainly because he was born out of state – cross country – and the birth mother had not received in-person counseling because the adoption agency was located in a third state. As an attorney, I wanted to make adoption more affordable and less stressful.
The solution I thought was to do adoptions in state – matching North Carolina birthmothers with North Carolina families so that in-person counseling was possible, there would not be interstate laws conflicts, and only one attorney would be needed to handle the adoption.
I also wanted to be able to have a meaningful connection with the families. Thus, I formed A Child’s Hope, now entering its 20th year of creating forever families in North Carolina. We strive to keep adoption costs below the national average by focusing solely on in-state adoptions – no out-of-state travel costs or multiple-state legal expenses.
Today — Surrogacy & Assisted Reproduction
Approximately ten years ago, the Parker Herring Law Group (then Herring & Mills) expanded into assisted reproduction and surrogacy law. While constructing the carefully worded legal agreements for the intended parents and advising surrogates on the wording of a contract, I find the same emotional connection as with adoptive families.
As we approach the 375th placement through A Childs Hope, we see a bright future. Racial barriers are falling by the wayside and it is easier to place a child with same-gender couples. On the law firm side, there are more stepparents seeking to make legal the family bonds they have developed with the children, as well as seniors are more frequently considering adult adoption to formalize their family-type bonds with a younger friend, neighbor or caregiver.
I so look forward to the next holiday season bringing a mailbox full of even more smiling faces of every age and walk of life.
E. Parker Herring is a Board Certified family law specialist who has practiced in Wake County, N.C. for more than 32 years. She has three children through adoption and assisted reproduction and in 2000 started the adoption agency, A Child’s Hope. The agency focuses on North Carolina birthmothers with North Carolina newborns. The agency has placed more than 370 children since it opened. The multiple adoption journeys of her own family and her personal experiences in fertility treatments continue to be the driving force behind her working in the areas of adoption and assisted reproduction. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and received her law degree from Wake Forest University School of Law.