Tips and Tricks for Dealing with Celebrity Clients in Adoption
Posted on August 28, 2014 by Jeffrey A. Kasky
Celebrities come in all shapes and sizes, along with levels or degrees of celebrity. Some celebrities chose that path and some became celebrities by no choice of their own. No matter how you slice it, providing a personal and confidential service to a person or couple who are in the public eye can be tricky, to say the very least! Let it not go unsaid that a good deal of the trickiness can come from the clients themselves, who may decide, for example, that a “leak” of otherwise confidential information can serve career, publicity or other purposes.
I have been working in the field of adoption and surrogacy since approximately 1993. The vast majority of my legal career has been as an attorney for Florida-licensed not-for-profit adoption agency One World Adoption Services, Inc. (not to be confused with the now-defunct and totally unrelated Georgia agency by the same name), where I have had the good fortune to help with thousands of adoption cases over 20+ years.
Adoption refers to the legal act of transferring the parental rights to a child or person from one party to another. When a parent decides to place a child for adoption, the court will permanently terminate that parent’s parental rights in favor of the new parent(s). There’s a whole lot more to it than this, and I direct you to our easy-to-read guide as referenced below.
The subjects of the adoption cases which I’ve handled have almost always been newborns. Occasionally we have helped find families for children who were not newborns, and we’ve even handled the adoption of healthy adults! That, however, is not the norm.
The adoption agency with which I have been associated since the 1990s has handled dozens of international adoptions, but got out of that field in the late ‘90s. The conversation in this essay refers to domestic adoption, which almost always involves working with a woman who is in the midst of an unexpected pregnancy and may be experiencing various other distresses in her life.
Who chooses adoption? Why?
Adoption and other so-called “non-traditional” forms of creating a family carry various risks and can bring vastly different types of rewards. Adoption is not usually a couple’s first choice in their attempt to create a family. Heterosexual couples usually start with trying to get pregnant the usual way, and are eventually led to adoption when that fails. Fertility treatments are usually an intervention somewhere between the “usual” way of becoming pregnant and adoption.
Adoption carries risks, and is therefore not for everyone. Adoption is less expensive than surrogacy, and is likely therefore more appealing to certain clients. However, the waiting times involved in adoption along with the risks are more than many people can handle. I will tell you right now that I personally would not have the intestinal fortitude to go through this process as an adoptive parent or as a birth parent, and I salute those who do.
I think that for most of our clients adoption was the last resort. Our program requires that the adoptive parent(s) be medically unable to have children, so necessarily all of our clients have had to try one intervention or another to come to that medical clearance. Therefore, for most of them, by the time they choose adoption it’s their only hope.
Dealing with celebrities, in general
We have worked with a handful of celebrities over the years. To be perfectly honest with you, in many of the celebrity cases in which we’ve been involved I probably wouldn’t have known the clients were celebrities had they not advised me as such. The household names I know, but the flash-in-the-pan one-hit-wonders or “reality” show celebs….not so much.
In Florida as in many other states we have a statutory responsibility to keep certain activities on behalf of our clients confidential. Even if I wanted to go out and blab about this client or that, I am prohibited from doing so. The client, however, is not similarly restricted. If they want to go and tell the world about their adoption plans, they’re free to do so. This creates an interesting paradox when working with someone who lives for publicity, as some celebs do.
In one example, a very well-known legitimate multi-media public figure came to us wanting to adopt. She wasn’t overly paranoid about the birth mother knowing her identity, but she did want to keep it on the down-low for as long as possible. The birth mother decided that she wanted to meet the adoptive mom, and when the meeting occurred the birth mother recognized her immediately.
The prospective adoptive mom/celeb and the birth mother had a nice relationship throughout the pregnancy, but, predictably, the birth mother started running into financial problems and saw the financially successful prospective adoptive mom as an “out” to all of her financial woes. This created tension in the case. We advised the adoptive mom against doing anything financial for the birth mother that was not in the court’s order of support, and she complied. The baby was born, the adoption was completed, and only then did the celeb mom publically discuss her adoption journey.
Some celebrities will profess to want privacy and confidentiality, but then have their representatives “leak” information to the media regarding their adoption case. The vast majority of celebs with whom we’ve worked the adoption agency are NOT like that. Generally speaking, these are people who do, indeed, value their privacy; pay their bills on time; are NOT drama kings/queens, and ultimately make great parents and thankful and appreciative clients.
In many ways, the celebrities whom we’ve helped are just like you and me. The typical celebrity or public figure wants just the same as any of the rest of us: privacy, consideration, respect, and the knowledge that they received the quality services for which they paid. We have no problem delivering on all of the above.
The main – and sometimes ONLY – difference between working with a celeb versus a couple or individual outside public scrutiny is that there is often public interest in the former, so extra-special attention must be paid to confidentiality. That’s it! Oh, and one more thing….. You also end up getting some pretty nice autographed swag!
Jeffrey A. Kasky, Esq. is a Florida lawyer who has been working in the adoption and surrogacy field for over 20 years, having placed over 2,000 children for private/permanent adoption. Jeff can be found at www.OneWorldAdoption.com and www.LifeThroughSurrogacy.com. Jeff and his law partner Robert A. Kasky, Esq. are also the authors of the book “99 Things You Wish You Knew Before . . . Choosing Adoption”, which can be found on Amazon.