A happy home: Adoption lawyer unites thousands of children, families


After struggling for years with infertility as well as loss, Arielle and Bob Markley of Zionsville had to make a decision whether or not to pursue adoption. They began investigating agencies and decided that Kirsh & Kirsh, on 96th Street in Hamilton County, was the right choice in helping them grow their family.

Adoption is a long process that can take a few years, so when they finished their home study in June they were prepared to wait. But to their surprise, their adoption attorneys matched them up with a baby boy in July. They brought home Will, who is now seven months old.

Arielle, a veterinarian, said they were impressed with Kirsh & Kirsh because the agency focused solely on adoption, which is unique in the state of Indiana.

“We felt more confident in the process knowing they would attend to every detail and that surprises – besides the good surprise that we had – would be minimized,” she said. “Our interests were better protected.”

Kirsh & Kirsh was founded more than 30 years ago by Steven Kirsh, who lives in Carmel along the Monon Trail in the Carmel Arts & Design District. His brother, Joel, joined the practice when he graduated law school, as did Steven’s son, Grant. They have helped find homes for more than 3,500 babies in the past three decades. The Markleys said they were referred by a family that adopted with Kirsh & Kirsh more than 20 years ago.

While Kirsh & Kirsh usually represents the adoptive parents, Steve Kirsh said they do such a good job making the birth mothers feel comfortable they receive many calls from expectant mothers. More than 60 percent of those calls come from word-of-mouth referrals. In fact, recently, there’s been a need for more adoptive parents to match up, which usually isn’t the case.

“The numbers will never equal,” Joel Kirsh said. “The number of people wanting to adopt (usually) outnumber the number of children about 30 or 40 to one, but we help educate people about the positive experiences about adoption. We want everyone involved in the adoption to walk away with a good taste in their mouth.”

Steve Kirsh first became interested in this field of law in 1981 after a friend asked him if he could help them adopt a baby.

“They conceived a child against million-to-one odds before I could find them a baby,” he said. “But in the end, I found that I really enjoyed it. In fact, if it wasn’t for adoption law, I don’t know if I’d still be a lawyer to this day, because, in my opinion, it’s one of the few areas of law where throughout the process everyone benefits. Certainly the adoptive parents benefit, but the mother gets a good solution to a difficult situation, and the baby gets a home.”

The popular perception is that it’s very difficult to adopt a child, and Steven Kirsh agrees it’s not easy. It can cost upwards of $40,000, and it takes months to do proper background checks and make sure both the birth mother and adoptive parents feel comfortable and protected.

While it can be pricey to adopt, Steven Kirsh said there are many tax credits and bonuses from employers available for adoptive parents.

For City of Carmel employees, there’s an adoption assistance program that will pay up to $5,000 for an adoption.  All full-time employees are eligible.

“The philosophy is that if insurance pays for childbirth, why not also assist employees who choose to grow their families through adoption,” said city spokesperson Nancy Heck. Carmel has won accolades for its program from the Dave Thomas Foundation, a pro-adoption group.

Joel Kirsh recalled one recent Friday when he was exhausted from a long week at work. He was about to leave and go home when he got a knock on his door.

“I almost rolled my eyes because it was a Friday afternoon,” he said. “Turns out, it was a kid named Andrew who was 24 years old who said he was driving by and wanted to stop in and say, ‘I wanted to give you a hug and say thank you for helping me find my parents.’ It just made my day.”

The truth about adoption

Steve Kirsh said there are a lot of misconceptions about the adoption process. He said most people assume you have to be wealthy or a certain race or sexual orientation to adopt, but that’s not true. In fact, he said, expectant mothers often will choose gay men to be their parents of their baby nowadays. People also falsely believe there are many cases of birth mothers changing their minds and taking their children back, which he said is fueled by negative journalism.

“It’s kind of like how the media never reports on planes landing safely,” he said.

Another misconception is mothers who place their child in adoption don’t care about their babies, which he said is completely untrue in his experience.

“People think a woman proceeds with an adoption for the same reason that a woman proceeds with an abortion,” Steve Kirsh said. “They think that a woman doesn’t want her baby. That’s false. It’s because she loves her child dearly that she wants the child to receive more than she can offer at that point her life.”

About Steve Kirsh

Name: Steven M. Kirsh

Age: 61

Education: Dartmouth College, Magna Cum Laude, with High Distinction in History (1976); Indiana University School of Law, Cum Laude (1979)

Spouse: Jacque Kirsh – together since we were both 16. Married 40 years as of June 2015

Children: Joshua Kirsh, age 37; Grant Kirsh, age 35; and Tyler Kirsh, age, 32. Holden, grandson, age 3; Anna, granddaughter, age 5.

Years experience: 34 years practicing adoption law

About Joel Kirsh

Name: Joel D. Kirsh

Age: 56

Education: Indiana University, B.S. Degree in Business Management and Administration (1981); Indiana University School of Law (1984)

Spouse: Holly Kirsh (Co-Owner of AH Collection at Clay Terrace and Hamilton Town Center) – Married 27 Years

Children: Trevor Kirsh, age 23 (Research Analyst at Cushman Wakefield); Olivia Kirsh, age 19 (Sophomore at Indiana University); and Harrison Kirsh, age, 14 (8th Grade at Westfield Middle School).

Years experience: 30 years practicing adoption law