Dear Governor, Representatives and Senators of Arkansas and candidates for office,
Please allow me to state the problem in as clear and concise a manner as I can. In short, unborn and newborn babies are being solicited, brokered, bought, and sold in Arkansas and the General Assembly has the power to fix the problem. KNWA recently aired a story about this problem that has become well known in Northwest Arkansas and is growing in vulnerable communities across the state. You can see the report here.
In the worst cases, a person who we commonly call a fixer approaches a pregnant woman and offers her money if she’ll place her child up for adoption. If she agrees, the fixer and the biological mother go to an attorney’s office where the attorney offers the expectant mother as much as $15,000 to place her child up for adoption. If the biological mother decides to place her child up for adoption through that attorney, the attorney pays the fixer around $500 as a “finder’s fee” for bringing the biological mothers in. At any time before or after these meetings, hopeful adoptive parents have also contacted that attorney seeking to adopt a baby. They pay the attorney anywhere from $12,000 to $18,000 in attorney fees to process the adoption. This appears to be a de facto conflict of interest with an attorney representing adverse legal interests in the same case. Throughout the pregnancy, the attorney acts as a conduit of information, communication, and money. However, most adoptive parents I have talked to complain about the fact that record keeping on those funds is laughable and most biological parents complain about not getting the money they were promised. Many times, there are no receipts and no accounting despite the fact that the adoptive parents will later sign an affidavit swearing under oath to how money was spent. What’s worse, many times after the adoption is finalized the biological and adoptive parents stay in touch only to discover that the money paid to the attorney earmarked for the biological family does not make it there. In other words, attorneys are billing adoptive parents for birth mother expenses and pocketing the cash rather than give it to the biological mother.
It gets worse. Sometimes, the fixers are recruiting biological mothers from foreign countries (particularly the Marshall Islands where inhabitants can freely enter and work in the United States without a visa or green card), flying them to Arkansas, and leaving them here after the adoption is finalized. They frequently speak little English, have no job or vocational training. Often times when biological mothers indicate their desire to change their mind about adoption, the attorney sends in the fixer to smooth things over, often with very gritty harassment, coercion, and duress. They’ll threaten the biological mothers with hefty prison sentences, unpayable civil judgments, and more. Here recently, there has been an uptick in cases where fixers will go back to a birth mother in the eighth month of pregnancy and offer more money if they will switch attorneys. When this happens, biological mothers get more money, the fixers get more money, but adoptive parents are left with broken hearts and empty bank accounts with little hope of recovery. This has led to some criminal prosecutions, but far too few. Attorneys who practice in this area of law talk about how they have an arrangement with one another to reimburse the attorney who lost a client when a birth mother switches attorneys. Unfortunately, that money rarely if ever finds its way back to adoptive parents who’ve invested in a failed adoption.
Believe it or not, it gets worse. I’ve interviewed adoptive parents who have adopted children straight from Arkansas attorneys who just weeks earlier adopted the child themselves. They charge the new adoptive parents far more money than they spent to adopt them in the first place, literally buying a child low and selling high. I’ve talked to biological parents who when pregnant were approached in public places by someone offering to give them money in exchange for placing their unborn child up for adoption. I’ve talked to circuit court judges who are disgusted by the notion that a mother may have been coerced, threatened, harassed, or intimidated to place their child up for adoption but are left with little choice but to sign an adoption order on the mother’s testimony that their choice was free and voluntary.
Not every case has every one of these despicable practices, but nearly every case has at least one of them. Not all attorneys practicing in this area engage in these practices, but regardless these practices must stop. These cartels of attorneys and fixers must be broken up. Adoptions facilitated by lawyers (as opposed to DHS or licensed adoption agencies) must be more transparent. The legislative scheme for adoptions must change. Rather than just present you with a problem, I would like to present you with a solution. I have attached a proposed bill which I offer for your consideration. It would provide for legal counsel to biological parents to correct the conflict of interests that exist in current practice. It would criminalize the facilitation of an illegal payment to a birth mother for an adoption and the solicitation of a biological mother to place their child up for adoption. It would require detailed accounting of funds paid from adoptive to biological mothers for court review. It would solidify the jurisdictional requirements that are currently placing a drain on probate courts in Arkansas. In short, it would go a long way towards fixing this problem.
This issue is non-partisan. Republicans and Democrats alike see how wrong these practices are. Reform is supported by biological parents and adoptive parents alike. I look forward to seeing the General Assembly pass a bill that solves the problem. You can learn more at www.adoptionarkansas.org. If I can be of any assistance in the process, please let me know.
For His Fame,
Josh Bryant| Attorney at Law
5204 Village Pkwy., Ste. 11-131
Rogers, AR 72758
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I am the father of a child who has needed extraordinary amounts of medical care over the course of his two short years of life. He's had thousands of blood tests, a dozen or more surgeries of some type, over one hundred different doctors, therapists of all sorts, and we still do not have a diagnosis of any kind. Because of his medical needs, he qualifies for Medicaid, but if something happened to me and my wife and my son got a lump sum of cash, he may no longer qualify for public benefits. As such, we need a special needs trust. Here are the reasons you might need one too.
1. You have a child who gets public benefits. These benefits include everything from social security disability income to Medicaid and other public benefits based on his or her disability and capability of earning an income. If your child inherits from you a large sum of money, those public benefits may go away because of the size of the assets they would then own or the income available to them under a standard trust. Josh Bryant can help you walk through these benefits and analyze the impact of an inheritance could have on them.
2. Your child will require ongoing medical or therapeutic care. If your child will indefinitely need medical or therapeutic care for a condition such as down's syndrome, a mental handicap, cerebral palsy, and other similar disorders, it is very likely that you will need a special needs trust. Sometimes, public benefits will not pay for all of these needed services. Your special needs trust can provide the supplemental income for those needs without disturbing your child's eligibility for public benefits. Josh Bryant is familiar with the occupational, speech, physical, and other therapies available and can help you plan for your child's future in these therapies.
3. You want to speak into your child's independence after your incapacity or death. Most people want to help their special needs kids with as much independence as possible. Perhaps you want your special needs child to be able to live in their own house or apartment with assistance. In that case, your special needs trust can provide for that. Perhaps your child will need constant care. Your trust can provide for that to. There is no one size fits all approach to special needs trust planning. Josh Bryant understands that and helps clients walk through their child's individual needs even after the initial trust is drafted and the child's needs change as conditions worsen and improve.
4. You want to provide for your child's continued social, physical, intellectual, and spiritual development. Special needs parents want their children to live as much of a normal life as possible. Josh Bryant drafts special needs trusts that provide for the child to engage in appropriate sporting events, school, social clubs, cultural and artistic activities, and spiritual worship services. Providing for these needs is outside the purview of the government benefits your child will have, and as such require special planning to prepare for.
5. You want a professional to manage your child's medical and therapeutic care while others manage your child's social, physical, intellectual, and spiritual development. Many of the special needs trusts that Josh Bryant creates for clients include a provision requiring the hiring of a care advocate. A care advocate can be an attorney like Josh Bryant or a social worker, care management agency, or registered nurse with specialized knowledge in public benefits for disabled and special needs individuals. This area of law is so complicated that asking someone to be a guardian of your special needs child may seem like too much for the guardian. As such, having both an advocate and a guardian can provide the best for your child.
If your parents are ailing and aging, they may qualify for public benefits as well and could benefit from a special needs trust. This is all part of a comprehensive plan that Josh Bryant can help implement to preserve wealth. For more information, call Josh Bryant at (866)597-5621.
Bankruptcy. The word draws up feelings of shame, anxiety, and remorse. But the feeling the word should produce is often used in the same phrase: bankruptcy relief. When debt is crushing down on you, when interest and late charges are more than the minimum payment, when it feels like you are financially drowning with no way out - bankruptcy can provide a feeling of relief. Because it is so tied up with a person's ability to accumulate and preserve wealth, bankruptcy is part of the services offered by Josh Bryant in the Wealth Stratagem. Here are a few things you need to know about bankruptcy.
1. There is no shame in bankruptcy. When it comes right down to it, lenders and creditors are often holding all the chips. Some of them make loans they never should have made to you. Others charge exceptionally high interest rates. The contracts and promissory notes they make you sign are often drawn up in such a fashion that you have no bargaining power. When you fall behind on payments, they sue. They can go after your house and your wages. Bankruptcy exists to help you get back on your feet. When clients visit with Josh Bryant about a bankruptcy, they experience no judgment. What they get instead is grace and compassion.
2. There are different types of bankruptcy. For individuals and families, there are basically two different types of bankruptcy: restructuring and discharge. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, we all work together to get a plan together where your payments are more manageable. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court works to liquidate what it can to satisfy the debts and discharge or forgive all the other debts. When clients work with Josh Bryant on a bankruptcy, he helps them decide which course of action is best for them.
3. You don't have to loose everything in bankruptcy. Arkansas and federal law set aside certain assets as untouchable by creditors when you are in bankruptcy. Josh Bryant will work with you to determine what assets you will be able to keep and those you may have to allow the bankruptcy trustee to sell to satisfy the debts.
4. Silver Participants in the Wealth Stratagem get Bankruptcy Protection at No Additional Charge. For the most part, a bankruptcy will cost anywhere between $750 and $1,500 and that's all you get. But if you have paid the $1,000 initial Wealth Stratagem fee and are a participant at the Silver level or higher (or have been a participant at Silver or higher for at least one year without paying the initial Wealth Stratagem fee), you pay nothing more to obtain bankruptcy relief than the filing fee that goes to the court. In addition, Josh Bryant will work with you on all other aspects of the Wealth Stratagem at no additional fee.
For more information, call Josh Bryant at (866)597-5621.
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I follow Christ. I have a beautiful wife Megan and three wonderful children, Harrisen, Rebekah, and Carter. I have an M.Div. from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, am licensed to practice law in several state and federal courts, and live in Rogers, Arkansas. I write a blog and produce a podcast. And I do it all that others may know Christ.