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Mississippi College Law Students Help Families Seeking Adoptions

Mississippi Law students worked with the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services on adoptions of 17 children in time to have permanent homes for the Christmas holidays.

Americans trying to adopt children often face a heart-wrenching process that can be expensive and drag on for years.

Bringing tremendous relief to families seeking adoptions, Mississippi College Law students handled big stacks of legal documents. They also joined with families appearing before a judge to successfully adopt 17 children as the Christmas holidays near.

“It is a win-win situation for everyone,” said MC Law professor Crystal Welch, who oversees the students. “Our law clinic is excited to use our legal training to cement these family bonds and collectively celebrate the joy of adoption.”

A mass adoption ceremony in Hinds County Chancery Court on December 12 made all the difference in the world to families playing a long waiting period. Strains were suddenly lifted in the Jackson courtroom for some family members seeking adoptions up to seven years.

MC Law School students helped families with nearly 100 adoptions since January 1. The total includes 78 adoptions since June 1. The adoption clinic opened in 2004 at the Baptist-affiliated law school in Jackson.

Students eagerly plunged into mountains of paperwork to assist families ever since. There is no charge to families for their valuable services.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students,” MC Law Dean Emeritus Jim Rosenblatt told a WLBT-TV 3 reporter in December. “They learn what it is to practice law, and to be a real lawyer.”

Welch clearly sees dividends for the students who joined the legal proceedings before Hinds Chancery Judge Denise Sweet Owens. They received real-time courtroom experience practicing their craft, and not just the knowledge they glean in textbooks.

Family law typically sees attorneys battle in adversarial domestic situations. “But this is one area of law where everybody walks out of the courtroom happy,” Welch noted. “Adoption law is the most rewarding area of legal practice.”

Adoption services of students like Ray Young of Calvary, Alabama, who’s on track to graduate from MC Law in 2018, are badly needed.

Due to high fees, long waiting lines, and unethical practices, America has seen child adoptions drop from 133,737 children in 2007 to 110,373 in 2014. Chuck Johnson, CEO of the National Council for Adoption, says one million families are trying to adopt at any given moment.

About 59 percent of the kids adopted come from the USA’s foster care system and 26 percent come from other nations. Some 15 percent are voluntarily relinquished American babies, reports show. An estimated 400,000 children are in the USA’s foster care system, with at least 100,000 kids waiting to be adopted.

MC student Tiffany Strain of Madison applauds the work of the law school to make a complex adoption process get a little easier.

Her mother’s friend wanted to adopt a baby in the United States and the process lingered for about five years, Strain said. “It took forever. This is so nice before the holidays. It is sweet.”

Getting children adopted “is definitely a long process,” said MC student Alisa Promise of Monticello. Having law students involved to enable families to shorten its length, she said, “is worth it in the end.”