Connecting adoptive parents with children

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Date: 2005-01-01

Connecting adoptive parents with children

By Heather Lowhorn

Michele L. Jackson’s résumé is long and impressive. An attorney, Jackson BA ’97 is an independent practitioner within Butler, Jackson, and Jones in Indianapolis. As an adjunct professor at the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, she teaches a class in international and comparative family law — a class that is only offered two other places in the nation. She gives lectures on family law and adoption around the country. But to a child living in an orphanage overseas, none of that matters. What matters is that Jackson can help him find a family and a home. Jackson is an international adoption consultant. She guides adoptive parents through the maze of paperwork and bureaucracy to help them adopt children in countries such as Ukraine, Nepal, Guatemala, Russia, and Haiti.

Two years into law school, Jackson felt that she wanted to specialize in international adoptions. “I would send out letters saying ‘I’ll be a free intern; I’ll volunteer,’” she says. “No response. It’s very competitive. I didn’t realize that at the time.”

After graduating from the IU School of Law, Jackson began consulting with Lighthouse Ministries, Inc. “They were doing an economical development program in Ukraine,” she says. “The people who were going over with this organization would take gifts to orphanages they were supporting through these programs, and they became interested in adopting.”

Jackson worked with Lighthouse and the couple to help them adopt a child. Through the adoption, Jackson had found her way into her vocation.

On a recent trip to Ukraine, a client who had adopted a Ukrainian boy had a special mission for Jackson. “His mother had given me a card to give to his [Ukrainian] grandparents. The orphanage had given her this name and address, but she didn’t know if it was right. I got to go to their apartment to give them this note and pictures. It was so amazing. They were just crying because they had no idea what had happened to their grandson. They went to the orphanage to visit him one day, and he was just gone.” It was a fulfilling experience for Jackson and the grandparents. “Not only has this little boy brought so much joy to his family in Indiana, but now knowing how happy he is brought joy to the family in Ukraine — and peace.” The story, however, doesn’t end there. Jackson found out through the grandparents that the boy had a younger sister who is also in an orphanage. “So now my couple here wants to adopt her, and we’re trying to find her.”

Jackson credits AU’s Tri-S program with pointing her in the direction of international adoption. As an undergraduate student, Jackson took Tri-S trips to Costa Rica, Europe, and Jamaica. “I think my experience with Tri-S at Anderson really gave me a heart for what I’m doing now,” she says.

Though adopting a child from overseas can seem overwhelming, Jackson assures her clients the process isn’t as bad they might expect. “It is a long process. It’s kind of an emotional rollercoaster,” says Jackson, “but every single [client says], ‘I’d do it again.’”

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