“This is what we think is God’s calling, for us to do this,” says Jennifer, who
attends St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in
Rockville with her family. She remembers thinking, the girls need a home, and
if we don’t do this, they might not leave the
orphanage or they might get broken up.
The couple started learning Spanish
(Tim for the first time, and Jennifer as a
refresher from high school) and spoke
with the girls on Skype for the next five
months. They met in February 2015.
“We just all ran together and had a big
hug. It didn’t really feel like it was real
until then,” Jennifer says. The girls say
they were shy and a little scared but
excited to meet their new parents. For
seven weeks, the family lived in a hotel in
Costa Rica as they waited for the government to finalize the adoption. The girls
spoke very little English, and Jennifer
often became the translator.
Once in Maryland, the girls had two
months before summer break. Vaccinated and assessed for their grade levels,
the girls were paired with bilingual students who could help translate. That
summer, as they ran around the neighborhood with other kids, they started to
become fluent in English.
Tim, 41, and Jennifer, 40, encountered
challenges that most parents of young
children experience. To recognize good
behavior, they created reward systems.
Stickers for kind and respectful actions.
Poker chips for doing chores, which could
pay for “tablet time.” The systems worked
for the most part—except when Angie
didn’t seem to care if she earned tablet time.
That led to the color system, which could
lead to a loss of privileges.
But on that Friday night, after making
tortillas, the girls are well-behaved, holding hands around their dining room table.
It’s Katherine’s turn to say the blessing
before the meal. Then Tim and Jennifer ask the girls to tell one story about
their day. Pamela says she and other students had a “hot chocolate lunch.” Angie
explains in great detail the fitness routine
her class did. Frankie suddenly declares,
“I want to be in a club.” When Tim asks
which one, she giggles: “I don’t know.” n
Monica Garcia Harms co-chairs the Family Law department at Stein
Sperling. Her thorough knowledge and understanding of her clients’
circumstances and needs distinguish her approach to the practice of
family law. Monica represents clients in complex matters including
divorce, contested custody, support and property allocation.
CHILDREN IN THE
Family Law Attorney
25 West Middle Lane • Rockville, Maryland 20850
When parents decide to separate or divorce, the income
that supported one household won’t support two. Families
must prioritize. One of the first large expenses to evaluate
is the family home. Should it be sold now, a few years from
now, or can one spouse afford to retain ownership? The
children’s best interests must be factored into this decision.
The need to maintain consistency and stability for the
children is paramount during divorce or separation. The
family home can offer a sense of stability. This is why a
custodial parent may request to continue residing in the
home with the children for a period of time following the
divorce. The court considers a number of factors here,
• How old are the children and how long have they
lived in the family home?
• What is their connection to the neighborhood?
• What financial impact does keeping the family
• What are the alternative housing opportunities?
It is important to consult with a knowledgeable
attorney when contemplating separation or divorce. The
early decisions you make will have long-term effects on
your children and your finances.