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Families Open Their Hearts on Adoption Day

The Largent family finalizes Natalie's adoption on National Adoption Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More than 200 Los Angeles children joined new families as Public Counsel celebrated the 15th National Adoption Day on Saturday, November 22. Nearly 50,000 children nationwide have been adopted since the annual event started in Los Angeles in 1998.  

Kimberly Largent came to Children's Court with her 9-year-old daughter to adopt 12-year-old Natalie. "There are always so many older children in the system, and you think, 'what about them?'“ Largent said. 

"We’ve gotten to experience so many ‘firsts’ as a family. She had never been to a restaurant, to a professional game," said Largent. "Now she has her own bedroom, and [before] she always had to share or sometimes didn’t have a bedroom at all."

Pro bono attorney Michael McDonough of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP finalized Natalie's adoption before Presiding Judge Michael Nash, who started the Saturday adoption program that grew into a national movement. Nash celebrated his final adoption day before his retirement later this year. 

"On Adoption Day the courthouse becomes the happiest place on Earth," Judge Nash said.

"Adopting families have opened up their lives and their hearts," said Karen Ullman, who has led Public Counsel's Adoptions Project since it started. 

Bill Quicksilver, managing partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and a Public Counsel board member, helped a woman finalize the adoption of her grandson. "You read so much about the breakdown in family values, but the sense of family on adoption day is so strong and powerful that you can feel the love," he said. "To be able to come in as lawyers and help families navigate the system is rewarding." 

Manatt helped 19 children join new families, with lawyers, paralegals and other team members joining together to provide special support, such as translation for Spanish-speaking families adopting children. 

"Public Counsel is about equal access to justice, and it takes a lot of people to do that," Quicksilver said. 

Karen Frederickson, associate general counsel for The Walt Disney Company, said that families' needs often go way beyond just the adoption. Working with Public Counsel, Walt Disney Company legal teams ensure families receive adoption benefits and other services that they may not have been aware existed. 

"With a little bit of help and putting things together for folks, you can put them on a better path," she said. 

Manny Grace, an associate general counsel at The Walt Disney Company who was finalizing his third adoption, said that he was proud to advocate for children with disabilities. "Those families are doing a lot already. You get to help them along, so they can meet the right doctors. We wouldn't know how to advocate for it without Public Counsel's help." 

 “Anyone who has never worked with Public Counsel on an Adoption is missing out on a wonderful life adventure.  Helping a wonderful caring family who adopted three siblings and the love they showed in caring for them has changed my life forever.  This is what life is about, loving and caring for a child, watching them grow, and seeing such a happy family who was so thankful every step of the way was worth every hour of work in helping make their dreams come true,” said Diana Fortin, Executive Director, Distribution Legal Affairs at Paramount Pictures.

James Payer, a litigation associate at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, finalized the adoption of Anthony and participated in his first adoption day. "I'm in awe of what this family is doing and their devotion to Anthony," he said. "You have to have an open heart to welcome a child into your family."

The adoption project is a collaboration between Public Counsel, the Los Angeles Superior Court, the Alliance for Children's Rights, and pro bono legal teams from some of Southern California's top law firms and largest corporations, who give their help free of charge to families. To see more pictures from Adoption Day, please click here.

With many thanks to the following legal teams:

Katten Muchin Rosenman

Manatt, Phelps and Phillips

Paramount Pictures/Viacom

Sedgwick 

Sheppard Mullin Richter and Hampton

The Walt Disney Company

Winston and Strawn