Page 13 - Ohio Vol 5 No 2
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“ at’s where I learned much of the philosophy which is the foundation of my adoption practice. Rose Marie was such a beautiful lady.
“We actually had a waiting list for children with Down’s Syndrome,” she adds. “ ese clients knew the special trea- sures and love children with Down’s Syndrome bring to a home.”
Armed with a sense of purpose and wealth of experi- ence, Barrett returned home to Ohio in 1993 to establish her practice. Focusing her practice on adoption and sur- rogacy law, she became one of the  rst attorneys in Ohio to practice in the area of surrogacy.
From the outset, her surrogacy practice has been like “the wild, wild west,” given that there were no laws on which to rely. Even today, many laws vary from county to county in Ohio and certainly from state to state.“I prac- ticed in uncharted waters.”
Imagine the importance for parents who have experi- enced grief, heartache and loss. Parents whose desire to love a child and accept responsibility for an adopted child or a child born through surrogacy, know no limits. I could not fathom a world where the lack of written laws could prevent love from going forward.”
In the early years, Barrett’s clients were typically those who had a friend of a friend who either knew of her work or had used her services. As her reputation grew, her work expanded both nationally and internationally.
“I went on a mission trip to Russia, to donate shoes to children in orphanages, that forever changed my life,” says Barrett. “People on that trip wanted to adopt the orphans we met. My heart broke open and I could not just walk away. I forged my way through,  gured it out, and interna- tional adoptions became a signi cant part of my practice.”
Barrett describes the experience of being in the pres- ence of so many orphaned children. It was heartbreaking. It’s an experience that has had a permanent impact and compels her tenacity to this day.
“ e older children particularly grabbed my heart,” she says. “So, one year, I created a summer camp and I brought seven older children to Rocky River, Ohio, from an orphanage in Russia, for a six-week summer camp.  ey were all adopted, including two additional siblings. It is that deep sense of purpose that motivates my prac- tice. Seeing these innocent children being matched with people who sincerely wanted to o er them a home and family but were previously unable to is deeply ful lling.”
In 1999, Barrett’s practice took a turn a er a conversa- tion with Cleveland pediatrician Dr. Karen Olness. “At that time, the medical community was just beginning to understand the impact on a child who was deprived of proper nutrition and love during the tender years prior to age two.  e child could su er attachment and bond- ing issues with little chance of recovery. Adopting parents needed to understand that risk. I was advised to focus on the infants who would have a better opportunity at suc- cessful integration into American families.”
“I was advised, you can only be a drop in the bucket. You cannot be the whole ocean.”
 roughout her career, Barrett, while expanding her knowledge and skills in adoptions, was also on the fore- front of an ever-unfolding frontier that was rapidly intro- ducing a more diverse and untried variety of family cre- ation. A signi cant part of her practice has been in the area of gestational surrogacy or gamete donation, more currently referred to as assisted reproductive technology law.
Since 1993, Barrett has been successfully and quietly completing surrogacy parenting arrangements, including both pre-birth and post-birth parentage orders. “It’s been very interesting and exciting working in an area where there are no laws.”
For example, Barrett established parental rights for an intended mother who used an egg donor. Barrett’s con- tinued e orts have been precedent setting throughout the State of Ohio.
Barrett sees her mission as creating families and assur- ing that the means of creation are in keeping with integrity and the bounds of the law.
“But there is still so much misunderstanding by attor- neys and even courts about the law in the area of assisted reproductive technology.”
Barrett has continued to explore, understand, and in some cases, even de ne the law regarding reproductive technology and parenthood. For more than 27 years, she has been developing and revising surrogacy contracts, which are now 63 pages in length, as well as incorporating changes as the laws slowly catch up.
In December 2006, the Ohio Supreme Court changed the landscape of surrogacy law in its groundbreaking de- cision of J.F. v. D.B., 116 Ohio St. 3rd, 363. It was the  rst decision in the country to determine that surrogate par- enting contracts are not void against public policy and are enforceable.
“ is was the correct decision. Surrogacy is not going away.  is case protects intended parents from extortion. It protects the surrogates from not being paid. It protects the surrogate parent from unintentionally having parental responsibility for the child,” Barrett says.
Barrett contends that the legal distinction between adoption and surrogacy is critical. “It is the di erence be- tween a loving family and a crime.”
In an adoption, the birth mother has parental rights that must be terminated. She cannot be paid for terminating those rights – that is baby-selling.  ese cases fall under the jurisdiction of R.C. 3107 in the probate court.
“In a properly contracted surrogacy arrangement, the gestational carrier (surrogate) never has parental rights because of in vitro fertilization and her egg is not used.  erefore, she can be compensated for her service of ges- tation because it is not her baby.  ese cases fall under R.C. 3111 and are the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court.  ese are contracts declared enforceable by J.F. v. D.B. In comparison, with traditional surrogacy (utilizing arti cial insemination) the surrogate’s egg is used, and if she is paid

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