On-Demand Video

Adoption & Family Building – Overview, Updates, and Best Practices in 2023

  • City:
  • Start Date:2023-02-06 19:00:00
  • End Date:2025-02-06 19:00:00
  • Length:
  • Level:Intermediate
  • Topics:Family Law

$299.00 ["ProPass"]

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Adoption law is an area of family law that requires an understanding of how to represent adoptive parents and birth parents, as well as  how to work with private and public agencies.  This course will provide you with a comprehensive overview of:  adoption and pre-planning for adoptive parents, legal proceedings including representing birth parents and foster-to-adopt, special issues such as interstate adoptions, ICWA, foreign adoptions, and the the ethics of reproductive law and family building. Join our diverse panel of experts as they explore these issues and prepare you to better represent your clients.

All attendees will receive the course book as a digital download. A printed copy of the course book is available, at a discount to attendees, for $40. If you wish to purchase the printed version of the course book, please call PBI Customer Service at 800-932-4637.

Recorded in February 2023.


Dorota Gasienica-Kozak Esq.

Dorota Gasienica-Kozak is a partner with the Pennsylvania law firm KingSpry, where she is Chair of the Adoption and Assisted Reproductive Technology Law Practice Group. Dorota has built her legal practice in family, adoption, estate, and assisted reproductive technology law, helping to form, guide and protect families through some of the biggest moments of their lives. There is nothing more rewarding to her than helping to build families through her legal practice. From gestational carrier agreements, legal parentage proceedings, termination of parental rights and adoption hearings, Dorota and her team work to ensure a worry-free experience, guiding clients through the often intricate legal processes of family-building for over 20 years. Her practice also includes practicing in the area of family law, where she represents clients in all matters related to custody, divorce, support, protection from abuse, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, same sex rights, name changes and paternity litigation. Dorota frequently speaks and publishes articles on legal topics and routinely volunteers with the Bradbury Sullivan LGBTQ Community Center pro-bono clinic. She is also an active member of her community, most recently as a former Chair of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Board of Governors and currently as the Chair of the Board of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. Dorota has been recognized for her contributions to her community and profession as the 2022 Athena Award recipient, Girl Scouts Take the Lead honoree, a YWCA “Woman of the Year,” and a Woman of Influence by Lehigh Valley Business. She has also been named a Rising Star honoree by Super Lawyer Magazine. Dorota earned dual degrees from DeSales University in Politics and Criminal Justice. She graduated from Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law, where she made significant contributions first as Staff Editor and then as Executive Editor of the Environmental Law and Technology Journal. She is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Paternity and Assisted Reproductive Technology Committees. She is also a member of the Monroe, Carbon, Lehigh Bar Associations, and their respective Family Law Committees. She lives in the Lehigh Valley with her husband and daughter.

Diana Schimmel Esq.

Ms. Schimmel has been practicing family law for over a decade. She works with families in the Greater Philadelphia area, South and Central New Jersey. In addition to guiding families through the difficulties divorce and custody matters can cause, she also focuses her practice on building families through the adoption process. She has represented couples and families in complex legal matters including divorce, custody, support, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, enforcement and modification of agreements, same sex rights, grandparents’ and third-party rights, adoption, name changes of minors and paternity disputes/establishment. Ms. Schimmel earned her Juris Doctorate from the Widener University Commonwealth School of Law in Harrisburg, PA. As a law student, she was a member of the Student Bar Association as well as an associate staff member and then a senior staff member of Widener Law Journal. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Government & International Politics with a minor in Dance from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Before establishing herself as an experienced and respected private attorney in the jurisdictions she practices, Ms. Schimmel served as the interim law clerk to Judge Donna M. Woelpper in the Family Court of Philadelphia, Juvenile Dependency Branch. She also worked as a child advocate attorney for the Defender Association of Philadelphia in its Child Advocacy Unit. She opened Schimmel Family Law in 2013 and worked as a solo practitioner for almost four years before partnering with two other local family law attorneys. Ms. Schimmel has experience in mediation and collaborative law and is licensed to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In addition to her legal practice, she is an active community member. Ms. Schimmel is the co-founder of the Young Professionals Council of The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research and of the Adoption Professionals Council of HelpUsAdopt.org. She is a member of the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Burlington and Mercer County Bar Associations, all in their family law subdivisions. She also volunteers with the Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program, The Montgomery Child Advocacy Project, The Support Center for Child Advocates and The Women’s Resource Center. Ms. Schimmel has been selected for inclusion in Pennsylvania Super Lawyers’ annual Rising Stars List since 2014, and she was named a Lawyer on the Fast Track by The Legal Intelligencer – a prestigious award she earned as one of its youngest recipients. Ms. Schimmel was also listed as a Top Family Law Attorney by Philadelphia Life Magazine every year since 2014, and she was named Best Overall Advocate by the Widener Intensive Trial Advocacy Program. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter.

Lisa Brown Esq.

Ms. Kane Brown is the owner of The Law Offices of Lisa Kane Brown. She has long been an advocate for children in family law cases, guiding families to ensure their children are protected from unnecessary negative effects of divorce and custody disputes. The Courts also regularly appoint her to represent children in custody matters. Included in her journey to help build family foundations, Ms. Kane Brown frequently handles private and foster care adoption matters for prospective parents. She is also a long time, dedicated volunteer child advocate providing free legal representation to children in Montgomery County who are victims of crime, abuse and neglect. She has been an active attorney in the five-county area, providing independent and objective analysis on issues surrounding child abuse and trauma. Ms. Kane Brown is regularly appointed as a trusted member of the bar to conduct independent investigations, represent child survivors of sexual assault and represent foster care children. The breadth of her experience also includes providing expert commentary both in the courtroom and in the community. In addition to receiving a B.S. and M.Ed. from Temple University, Ms. Kane Brown is a graduate of Temple University Beasley School of Law.

Sarah Katz Esq.

Sarah Katz joined the Temple Law faculty in July 2012.  She directs and teaches the Family Law Litigation Clinic, where her students handle custody, child and spousal support, adoption, and other family law matters in Philadelphia Family Court.  She researches and writes about trauma-informed legal practice, the child protection system, child custody, intimate partner violence, and other family law topics.  Katz also frequently speaks on these topics at scholarly conferences and trainings for attorneys. Prior to her arrival at Temple, Katz was a supervising attorney in the Family Advocacy Unit at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, Pa. There, she was responsible for direct representation of parents in civil child abuse and neglect cases; management and training of new attorneys, paralegals and certified law students; policy and advocacy work at the city and state levels; and community and continuing legal education.  She also served as an adjunct professor at Temple Law and a Lecturer in Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, teaching “Parent, Child, and the State.” Katz began her legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable Norma L. Shapiro, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Katz is active in the Nicholas A. Cipriani Family Law Inn of Court and the Family Law Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association.  She serves on the Juvenile Court Rules Committee of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Katz earned her J.D. at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2003 and her B.A. at Columbia University in 1997. 

Mark Fiddler Esq.

I believe that I have been called to the legal profession as a way of “doing justice.” I know that what I do has a lifetime impact on children and those who love and care for them. At the end of each day, I can tell my own children that I have done something worthwhile. I am fortunate and blessed to practice law. I have been a life-long advocate for children’s rights as a private practice attorney, the founding director of the Indian Child Welfare Law Center, and attorney for guardians ad litem. I have significant courtroom experience throughout Minnesota, including the Minnesota Court of Appeals and Minnesota Supreme Court. I have litigated Indian Child Welfare cases in the United States Supreme Court and in numerous state and federal courts around the United States. I am a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. I was one of twenty Americans awarded a Kellogg International Leadership Fellowship. I am a 2013 Minnesota “Attorney of the Year.” Beyond all the “official” stuff, I love to cycle (I teach “spin” classes!), I am a serious chef, and I am an active member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. My wife, Betsy, is a famous doctor who keeps me in line, as do my two Labrador Retrievers! Mark literally has “written the book” on Indian Child Welfare Act and adoptions, as he co-authored this book published by the prestigious American Bar Association.

Jacqueline Martinez Esq.

Ms. Martinez founded JBM Legal, LLC, a full-service law firm dedicated to providing legal representation to the Pittsburgh immigrant community . Currently, JBM Legal, LLC has offices in Pittsburgh, PA,  Whittier, CA, and Venice, FL.  Ms. Martinez is a graduate of Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She obtained her Juris Doctorate from the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University. Prior to establishing JBM Legal, LLC, Ms. Martinez was in-house counsel to a large International IT company, where she gained extensive experience in employment-based immigration and global immigration. Ms. Martinez’s currently is the managing partner, and her practice focuses on business immigration, family immigration and removal proceedings. JBM Legal, LLC attorneys also provide legal services to the immigrant community in the areas of criminal law, family custody and support law, small business law and litigation-general practice. Ms. Martinez has been asked to present at AILA National Meetings, PBI panels and webinars, Sole and Small Firm Conference, Civil Litigation Conference-PBA, PBA Annual Meeting. Ms. Martinez currently serves/served on various boards: PBA Board of Governors- Secretary of the PBA, Zone 12 Governor, Minority Governor at large, Pennsylvania Industrial Development Board, CASA-Court Appointed Special Advocate Board, ACLU-Pittsburgh Chapter Board, and the ACBA-Allegheny County Bar Association Board. Ms. Martinez, currently serves as the chair of the Pittsburgh Chapter of AILA, and the AILA National Board of Governors 2005-2006, 2022-2023, 2023-2024. Committees: AILA National Membership Committee, Waivers Committee, Hispanic Interest Law Group, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013 AILA National Conference Planning Committee, Current Vice-chair Bylaws-PBA, Vice-chair of Immigration Law Committee-PBA, chair of the Diversity Team-PBA, and chair of the Minority Bar Committee- PBA. Ms. Martinez founded the John Alan Meehan Citizenship Institute under the Allegheny County Bar Foundation, which provides pro bono legal representation to applicants for U.S. Citizenship and sponsors a fellow for summer work in a public-interest entity.

Elizabeth Vaysman Esq.

Elizabeth Vaysman is an attorney in the Family Law Department of Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP and an adoption Fellow in the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA). She focuses her practice on all aspects of adoption and reproductive law matters in Southeast Pennsylvania and the Greater Philadelphia area. Elizabeth represents clients in family building needs, consulting them on the legal process to review their options, such as between private or public adoption or pursuing assisted reproduction and provides next steps and referrals to begin.   Elizabeth has supported clients through the surrogacy process and in navigating embryo, egg, and sperm donation.  Learn more about Liz and her practice: https://www.obermayer.com/our-team/elizabeth-vaysman and connect with her here: www.linkedin.com/in/lizvaysman.

Emily Bell

Ms. Bell is the owner and Director of Transitions Adoption Agency, a domestic adoption agency located in Trappe, PA. Prior to joining Transitions, she worked in international adoption for many years. Ms. Bell is a member of the Help Us Adopt Adoption Professionals Council, Phi Chi – The National Honor Society of Psychology, and is a board member of the Royersford Community Chest. She serves on the Financial Advisory Board for The Cade Foundation, an adoption grant organization. Ms. Bell is a founding member of Adopting Hope, an adoption support group at her church. She and her husband have 2 children through domestic open adoption. Before entering the adoption profession, Ms. Bell was Assistant Director of a family homeless shelter and worked with many families that had Children and Youth involvement. Early in her career, she worked with children with special needs.  Ms. Bell earned her B.A. in Psychology from Eastern University.

Debra Moshinski Esq.

Debra is the founder of Moshinski Law, P.C., a local firm that specializes in building families through adoptions.  Every year, Debra supports hundreds of parents in growing their families through foster / kinship, domestic private, step-parent and international adoption.  Debra is passionate about helping families navigate the complexities of adoption, ensuring that children find stable and loving homes. Debra is on the board of the Delaware Valley Adoption Council where she acts as the Chair of the Legislative Committee.  Debra also serves on the DVAC Matching Committee. Debra is a graduate of West Chester University (B.S., 1997) and Widener University School of Law (J.D. 2005).  Debra received the Certificate of Achievement for her work in Dependency Law.  She ranked in the Top Ten Percent of her graduating class at Widener University School of Law. Debra is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  She is also admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Yalonda Houston Esq.

Yalonda Houston is a supervising staff attorney in Community Legal Services’ Family Advocacy Unit. In the last two years Ms. Houston has presented various CLEs on issues of dependency law and parental rights within the Child welfare system. Additionally, she is a graduate of the Shriver Center: Racial Justice Institute in 2021, where her team focused on developing a program in Philadelphia to address the lack of parental voice and racial inequalities in child welfare. Before joining CLS, she clerked for the Honorable Lisette Sheridan-Harris, and worked as a solo practitioner with offices in Philadelphia, Chester County, and Delaware court, specializing in family law which included custody, divorce, and dependency. She is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and has worked as a volunteer attorney with Philadelphia VIP, and the Senior Law Center assisting in Bankruptcy and Estate Planning and Estate Administration. Yalonda received her J.D. from Widener University Law School in 2002, her BA from Ursinus College in 1999, and her MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2006.

Deborah Spivack Esq.

Ms. Spivack is an attorney who devotes her practice exclusively to adoption and family building in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.  Her clients include adoptive parents, biological parents, agencies and children in domestic private, agency, step-parent, second parent, foreign re-adoption, guardianship and subsidy cases.  Ms. Spivack also provides legal, policy and strategic consulting services to adoption agencies, both domestic and international.  Her professional goal is to enable prospective parents to come together with children who need families, and to keep the doors to adoption open and accessible to families who desire to come together.  Ms. Spivack has worked with dozens of agencies in pursuing accreditation under the Hague Convention, and she has written numerous materials to assist client agencies bring their policies, procedures and contracts into compliance with the Hague regulations.  She is also a published author and frequent speaker on adoption topics to diverse audiences such as adoption parents, agency staff, adoption attorneys, and judges. Ms. Spivack has also held leadership roles in organizations that promote ethical practice and ensure that adoption policy serves the interests of children worldwide.  Ms. Spivack is a 2015 recipient of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Angel Adoption award. Ms. Spivack graduated with a B.S. in business from Penn State University and a J.D. (cum laude) from Widener University School of Law in 1993, where she was a member of the law review, The Delaware Journal of Corporate Law.  Following graduation, she worked as a judicial law clerk in federal bankruptcy court and, thereafter, as a corporate bankruptcy and restructuring attorney for a large firm in Wilmington, Delaware.  Ms. Spivack is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.  She has been a working member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys since 2008, and the American Academy of Reproductive Technology Attorneys since 2011. She is also an adoptive mother of a little girl born in Guatemala in 2004.

Rebecca Nayak Esq.

Ms. Nayak is a partner with Jerner Law Group, P.C. who practices adoption and assisted reproductive technology law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She also handles cases involving legal parentage issues. Ms. Nayak is an Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Fellow of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, an organization of nearly 500 highly vetted attorneys dedicated to the competent and ethical practice of adoption and assisted reproduction law. She is a founding member of the National LGBT Bar Association’s Family Law Institute, an organization that allows experienced LGBT family law practitioners to discuss cutting-edge legal strategies for representing members of the LGBT community and chairs their programming committee. Ms. Nayak is a current board member of Philadelphia Family Pride and sits on the Executive Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association Family Law Section as Vice Chair. In the past, she has served on the board of other organizations, including the National LGBT Bar Association. Ms. Nayak graduated, cum laude, from American University, Washington College of Law, and earned a Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

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