Page 12 - Ohio Vol 5 No 2
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ATTORNEY OF THE MONTH
Mary Catherine Barrett
THE POWER OF
LOVE AND LAW WRITTEN BY SUSAN CUSHING
PHOTOGRAPHED BY JASON KERESSI
“My practice has been a mission from the very beginning. I felt an early calling to serve, to do something meaningful and vi-
tal,” says attorney Mary Catherine Barrett. She now has successfully completed over 600 adoptions and surrogacies in her 29 years of practice.
 e spark of inspiration came in 1990 when, as a Cleveland-Marshall College of Law student, Barrett participated in a moot court competition on the issue of, “ e Legality of Surrogate Parent Contracts.”  e topic was certainly controversial for the time.
“It lit me up,” says the energetic attorney. “I felt passionate about these issues.”
Barrett sent her resume to adoption attor- neys throughout the country and to the sole surrogacy attorney, Noel Keane, considered to be the father of surrogate parenting law. Bar- rett had seen Keane’s appearance on the Phil Donahue Show and knew he was a pioneer. She received two o ers, one from an adoption attorney in Beverly Hills and one from Keane in San Francisco. She immediately moved to California to help Keane establish his San Francisco o ce. It was invigorating and cut- ting-edge work for the newly minted lawyer.
“ e experience was invaluable.  e work of the Keane Center for Surrogacy was ground breaking. I look back and think what a privi- lege it was to learn such cutting-edge law.”
It’s easy to trace where her deep dedication and strong character was forged. Raised in a large, loving family, Barrett’s examples were her parents, who raised their  ve children with a sense of responsibility and deep com- mitment to contributing to community and education. And, her father’s deep conviction to practicing law with honor and integrity.
 ere is now a total of six lawyers in Barrett’s family. Her father, Ben Barrett is in his 53rd year of fulltime practice in civil trial law.
A er helping Keane open his San Francisco center, Barrett extended her reach, working for a nonpro t adoption agency specializing in placing children with special needs for adoption. It was operated by Rose Marie Neilson in Santa Rosa, California.
“Rose Marie was a former nun,” Barrett explains. “She had le  the convent, called to have a family, but no one would let her adopt be- cause she was over 40. Undaunted, Rose Marie started her own adop- tion agency focused on children with special needs.
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