We're checking in again with our ProSquad experts. This week, they are tackling tough issues like underage drinking and support needed for adopting families.
I have three teenage boys and worry a lot about underage drinking at parties. As long as we never serve minors in our house, we're protected, right?
It must be that time of year again — prom, graduation party planning —because a lot of parents are wondering the exact same thing: When can you be held liable for teenagers drinking on your property? Unfortunately, the answer isn't that cut and dry.
The best defense is a good offense
Every parent should communicate, early and often, with their child about the dangers of alcohol abuse and drunk driving. Don't wait until there's a situation at school or in your family to start the conversation.
Now for the legal part
Most of us know that "furnishing" to minors is always illegal. You can never legally provide or purchase alcohol for a teenager. But many parents aren't aware of the "social host laws," which really vary from state to state and can impose criminal and civil liability on parents who may not be present when the drinking occurs.
In some places, you can even be held responsible for accidents after students leave your home. Pretty scary, huh? My advice: don't take any chances. Make sure that your kids know exactly where you stand on drinking in your home and how seriously you take the issue.
Legal Pro, Jacoba Urist
Jacoba Urist, Esq. is a lawyer, mom, and family finance writer in Manhattan. She's currently runs her own family finance consultant practice and is working on a book, "The Happiest Parent," about estate planning and personal finance, specifically for parents.
Jacoba earned her Juris Doctorate from New York University in 2002 as well as her Masters in Taxation in 2004. She also has a Masters from The Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies where she studied economic and regulatory issues. She has worked at one of the largest law firms in the country and her legal articles have been published for both legal academics and practitioners, and she regularly contributes to the Huffington Post. Her writing has also appeared on MSN Money and TODAY.com.
What are the best kinds of support for people who are considering adoption (including extended family support, financial, etc.)?
People who are considering adoption need several kinds of ongoing support: emotional, spiritual, and financial. Pre-adopting parents will find emotional support in other parents who are considering or going through the adoption process (pre- or waiting), parents who have adopted, family and friends, and, hopefully, the agency they work with.
Support from others who have been through the process
Pre- or waiting parents and parents who have adopted can provide empathy and guidance during the often stressful process. They either have or are experiencing the same emotions, concerns, and stresses. Because these parents have been "vetted" — gone through a great deal of examination and inspection by others (social workers, layers of government, physicians, clergy, etc.) regarding their fitness to parent — they are open to sharing with other parents who will travel the same journey. This is especially helpful if parents are coming to adoption via infertility and will be subject to many similarities they experienced during treatment (lack of control, privacy, fear, etc.).
Family and friends will likely need to be educated by the parents in how to best support them, with language and etiquette. Family and friends also need to be reminded that they have been thoughtful about their decision to adopt and the choices they have made to either create a family or expand theirs.
Spiritual support / Faith
Regardless of whether you have religious beliefs or not, I recommend you find something to place your faith in. The adoption process and wait are emotionally taxing and will likely try your patience and humble you, possibly depleting you at times. It's wonderful to have something steadfast and dependable to rely on.
Adoption is expensive. Many people considering adoption need help raising funds to pay for adoption-related expenses. A great resource and guide can be found here. (PDF)
Adoption Pro, Judy Miller
Judy M. Miller, MA, author of What To Expect From Your Adopted Tween, is an adoptive parent and adoption advocate living in the Midwest with her husband and four children. She is the Adoption Education Coordinator and Support Specialist for MLJ Adoptions, Inc.
Judy has appeared on MomTV's Adoption Angles and TogiNet'sAdoption ~ Journey to Motherhood. Judy spoke at the Parenting Summit in March 2011 and presented at the Symposium 2011 Opening Adoption: Realities, Possibilities, and Challenges in Richmond, VA and the Crossroads of America Adoption Conference in Indianapolis, IN last fall.
Judy's essays and articles appear in adoption and parenting magazines and in A Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Families (Adams Media), Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be? (EMK Press), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom (Chicken Soup for the Soul).