In May, employment litigator Joseph Hoag finalized a very happy adoption of a 13-year-old boy by his grandparents. “This was the culmination of a 12-year journey,” he said. “There were tears everywhere.”

Joseph’s clients had taken the boy into their home when he was 2 years old. They later also took in his baby brother and adopted him last year, with help from former DWT lawyer Lisa Koperski. When the older boy was 7 years old, the state approached the grandparents to see if they wanted to have legal custody of him. The grandparents jumped at the opportunity, not realizing that a consequence would be the state pulling all financial support. When the grandparents determined that adopting their grandson was necessary, they found they were without state assistance to terminate the birth parents’ parental rights, pay for a required home study, and adopt the child.

Joseph worked diligently to lower the costs for the grandparents, helping them pursue legal proceedings in a new venue (Pierce County, which is much less expensive than King County) and find a social worker who agreed to do the home study for a third of the usual cost.

It was also necessary to have the father, who was in prison, relinquish parental rights. Although he initially refused, the grandmother conducted a video conference with the father from DWT's offices. The prison prohibited Joseph from joining the call, and the prison’s audio capabilities were also down, so the grandmother had to communicate with the birth father by holding up notes to the camera. Eventually, he relinquished his rights.

After a few more twists and turns, the older brother was officially adopted in what Joseph called “the happiest experience I’ve had in court in my life!”

Assisting Joseph were paralegal Jaimie Patneaude and assistants Jill Jordan and Mendy Graves.