Getting to Know Bryan
The following is an interview with Bryan McLachlan about his life, career and passion for completing adoption.
Can you briefly introduce yourself?
I’ve been married for 18 years, and I have two children: a 10-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl. For adoptive families, I work hard so they too will be as blessed as I am, with the kinds of kids I have and the interactions we have as a family, because to me, family is everything.
In my off time, I coach my son’s football team and my daughter plays soccer. I often share those stories with adoptive families who don’t yet have children. They often like to hear the stories about what I experience as a dad: the daddy dance with my daughter, or coaching my son who wants to be the next Tim Tebow. I’m convinced that however you become a parent, whether they are yours biologically or through adoption, there is no difference. The experiences and memories are all the same.
How did you get involved in adoption law?
I first got into adoption law some years ago when I was a general family law practitioner. I did some divorce work, some paternity cases, and then I began doing some stepparent adoptions. I discovered the joy that the families got from that, and so I began to branch out from there, doing adult adoptions, private placement adoption, and then I began working with American Adoptions.
I soon learned that every adoption process is unique, and today I get the same excited feeling after my 300th adoption that I had after my first adoption. What motivates me is that end result, when a birth mother delivers the gift of life to a family – the end result is just wonderful. I call it the “happy part of law.”
Did you anticipate being this personally invested when you first got into adoption law?
I never really did, because when you do other types of law you don’t always have the personal connection. With adoption law, you work with families during one of the most momentous occasions in their lives. That’s hard to anticipate. And it’s hard to anticipate the connection that they have to you.
It’s a connection that I think they feel with me and I certainly feel with them, hence the annual pictures we get and occasional email that tells me how they are doing. I never anticipated that. The practice of law in general is in many respects very impersonal. Conversely, adoption law is very much personal.
When you were first transitioning to adoption law, can you give us an idea of what that was like to learn all of the intricacies of the law?
It was very difficult, but fun at the same time because of how much it meant to me. First, you look at the governing statutes. You talk to attorneys that practice in the field, talk to the judges, read case law, and join various adoption groups.
In fact, to this very day, it’s still a learning process because the laws are continuously being modified. Thus, the continuing education part of it is constant. This is why it is important for folks who are interested in adoption to choose an adoption attorney who is passionate about his or her trade because you must truly love this part of the law to stay up to date on the ever-changing nature of it.
Do you remember your first adoption case?
I still often think about that case. Although it was my first adoption, even to this day it remains one of the more unique adoptions I’ve been involved in.
The majority of adoptions I do are newborn adoptions, but this particular case involved a little guy who was about 3 years old. His mother had made the heroic decision that for a whole host of reasons she wanted to place him for adoption. From the very first moment I connected with them and found a very nice family in Tennessee who I still maintain contact with.
What struck me about that case was that it involved a 3-year-old, who knows his mom and environment, and was then transitioned into a new family. One of the first questions I asked the adoptive mother: “Was there any point early on when he was upset or said he didn’t want to be there?” “Not one second,” she said.
They had set up his bedroom separately from their other son’s bedroom. The two boys connected from the very first moment, and she said for the first handful of nights they’d check on him, and he was in his brother’s bed. Ultimately, they put a bunk bed in there and the two brothers are inseparable.
It was a unique case because it was an older child, and it just struck me how this boy won the proverbial lottery – not from a financial standpoint, but going from a situation of desperation to a situation of stability and opportunity. It gives me goosebumps thinking about it – thinking about what a hero his birth mother is and thinking about the life this boy has today. It’s a case I’ll never forget.
What are your thoughts on the women who make this sacrifice?
We all know what the easy thing is to do. But the right thing to do, the most loving thing to do, is to keep that baby to term, take care of herself, use it as an opportunity to get her life in order to the extent it isn’t in order, and give that gift of life to a family that has in many instances tried and tried to have a baby.
And the joy that they get back is indescribable. I have connections with these birth mothers, and they are absolutely joyful as well seeing what they are doing for these families and their children. I can’t say more about my respect for the women who make this decision.
What’s unique about your job?
I work when nature happens. It’s what gets me up early in the morning and here at night, on weekends, because babies come into this world on their own schedules. I work when a mom shows up on a Friday night at the hospital and says she’s in labor and wants to explore adoption. I do whatever it takes. If I’m on vacation, I’ve got my laptop and I start working. I understand that I don’t have a Monday through Friday, 8-to-5 type of job. I get to do what I love to do, and when I’m called upon to do it, I do it!