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Influential Adoption Attorney Clifford L. Greenberg Brings Families Together

published April 16, 2014

By Follow Me on
( 96 votes, average: 4.2 out of 5)
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Professional Overview

Clifford L. Greenberg
Clifford L. Greenberg is the founder of Greenberg Adoption: The Law Offices of Clifford L. Greenberg, a law firm based in New York City (NYC). The firm serves clients throughout NYC, which includes Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Greenberg Adoption also serves clients on Long Island and in Nassau County, Westchester County, Suffolk County and Kings County.

Mr. Greenberg specializes in foster care, same-sex, step-parent, and private adoptions. He has dedicated his entire legal career to assisting children and families. After graduating from law school, Mr. Greenberg served as a Law Guardian at the Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Division in Manhattan, where he worked vigorously to ensure that NYC's foster children were placed and protected in loving, permanent homes.

Following his time at Legal Aid, he served as counsel to a number of agencies in proceedings to free children for adoption. Mr. Greenberg also started to represent parents in the adoptions of their foster children. To date, he has assisted more than four thousand New Yorkers in adopting the children they love.

Mr. Greenberg frequently lectures at twenty foster care agencies, as well as statewide adoption meetings and conferences, which includes the Administration for Children's Services Circle of Support gatherings, where he advises potential adoptive parents about the legal process. He is the author of four books, Freedom for us all, Living the Dream with Mommy and Mama, My Grandma is My New Mommy, and I See You, I See Me. Mr. Greenberg has been consistently recognized for his devotion, most recently by the Families Forever Adoption Group, the New York State Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, and the Forestdale Foster and Adoptive Parent Association Executive Board.

He is the resident legal expert of the monthly Family Law Clinic at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in Greenwich Village. Mr. Greenberg is very proud of his work with same-sex couples. He strongly believes that LGBTQ equality is "the civil rights movement of our generation." Mr. Greenberg encourages the adoption community and agencies to "embrace the change and live the dream."

Apart from being a single father to his two young children, adoption is the love of Mr. Greenberg's life. His effort to assist loving families places him at the forefront of adoption attorneys in the great state of New York.

Mr. Greenberg was a member of the New York County Lawyers Association in 1999 and he has been a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York in 2000. Since 2003, he has been a member of the New York State Foster & Adoptive Parents Association. Mr. Greenberg has also been a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys since 2006. He currently is currently a member of the New York Attorneys for Adoption and Family Formation.

Mr. Greenberg was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York and New Jersey in 1990. He speaks fluently in Spanish, Portuguese, and English.

Over the years, Mr. Greenberg has been awarded with several distinctions. He is the recipient of the 2007 Forestdale, Inc. Adoptive Parent Association Recognition Award. On December 23, 2009, he earned a Certificate of Appreciation from Families Forever Adoption Group. Mr. Greenberg also received a Service Award from the NYS Foster and Adoptive Parents Association on July 17, 2010.

He was born in Brooklyn, NY, and raised in Atlantic Beach, NY. Mr. Greenberg received his B.A. in International Relations from University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, where he made the Dean's List. He also earned his J.D. from George Washington University Law School.

When the fearless attorney isn't working, Mr. Greenberg enjoys NYC's cultural institutions and coaching his children's basketball, baseball, and football teams. He is a frequent visitor of New York's fabled restaurant Mary's Fish Camp. Mr. Greenberg's favorite books include John Griffin's Black Like Me and Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago.

Mr. Greenberg's Memories and Motivations

Did Mr. Greenberg receive any awards or participate in any internship that influenced his decision to go into the law? "No, but my father and grandfather were both lawyers and I did take an immigration law clinic in law school that was interesting. I simply thought that practicing law was a great way to help people in need."

Does he have a most memorable law school experience? "Winning the IM football championship as a quarterback after beating the janitors/workers, who hadn't lost in decades. Law school achievement is not just academic," he says proudly.

What is the best part of Mr. Greenberg's job? "Meeting wonderful families and their children and being able to ensure that they are legally together forever."

What is he known for professionally? "I am known for my ability to bond with my clients not just as a lawyer, but in a hands-on personal way as they embark on their journey as loving parents. I am known for my ability to get along well with social workers, court attorneys, and fellow attorneys who are part of the foster care and adoption system. I am also known for writing children's books on adoption, which I share with my clients and agencies free of charge."

What does Mr. Greenberg think about adoption laws in New York City today? "With the exception of the law banning surrogacy, the state of adoption laws are acceptable. However, the push to legalize surrogacy is uppermost in the minds of many adoption attorneys in New York State."

What area of the law is he most passionate about? "Adoption and surrogacy."

Is there an area of practice Mr. Greenberg would like to develop further into? "ARTS/alternative reproductive technology."

If he were not a lawyer, what would he most probably be doing? "Well, if I were a foot taller, playing pro basketball, oh wait, I am 49 now…Hmmm….I would probably be a children's book author."

Where does Mr. Greenberg see himself in five years' time? "Doing the same thing I am doing now, adoptions, foster care and surrogacy."

What motivates him to be an attorney every day? "Adoption attorney: it's better than being listed as just an attorney; I am someone who helps children each and every day. That is what motivates me."

How does Mr. Greenberg want to be remembered? "As a champion of the underdog and tireless worker for equality for all."

Working for Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Division, Mr. Greenberg's Fulfilling Job, Being a Resident Legal Expert, Progress in the LGBTQ Community, Receiving Recognition for His Work and Speaking and Writing Engagements

After law school, Mr. Greenberg joined Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Division in Manhattan as a Law Guardian. What motivated him to help foster children? "I have loved children and helped those less fortunate than myself ever since I was a teen; first as a Big Brother, also as a little league coach, umpire and counselor in camp."

Mr. Greenberg has also served as a counsel to several agencies in proceedings to free youth for adoption. He has helped so many individuals adopt the children they love. How fulfilling is Mr. Greenberg's job? "Beyond words. Every day I am able to help families adopt the children they love. It's the best law job in the world."

He is a resident legal expert of the monthly Family Clinic. Why does Mr. Greenberg believe that equality for LGBTQ is "the civil rights movement of our generation?" He noted:
"Equality for all, or the idea of equality, dates back centuries; in our country, the founding fathers based the success of our nascent democracy on the moral compass of our leaders and the idea that ALL people are created equal. Sadly and hypocritically, we have had many, many years of the exact opposite, but in our history, women, African-American and now the LGBT community are seeing the day when all may not be perfect, but great progress is being made. This is the time for the LGBT community to shine, and every day we all get a little bit closer to the day where we will all truly be equal. It is simply time."
Regarding adoptions by the LGBTQ community, Mr. Greenberg has encouraged agencies and the adoption community to "embrace the change and live the dream." Does he think there has been progress with LGBTQ community when they adopt children or has the law hurt these individuals? "The LGBTQ community has seen great progress, as many foster care agencies, private agencies and birth mothers who are choosing families look to same-sex couples as great resources for children in need. Only 17 states and D.C. recognize same-sex marriage, hence the need for second parent adoptions, but despite the imperfect world in which we still live, one must admit that great progress has been made."

Several organizations recognize his work. How does this make Mr. Greenberg feel? "It feels wonderful because I often consider myself to be more than a lawyer, in that I am truly helping families in a way that most lawyers are not fortunate enough to do; I can help create and maintain loving forever families and to be recognized for that contribution is a blessing."

Will he continue his speaking and writing engagements? "Four books now, two of which are illustrated by my daughter, two of which deal with same-sex adoption and marriage, respectively, and yes, by all means, I will continue writing and speaking. It's how I give back in a small way to the community of foster and adoptive parents."

Representing M.H.-W. and J.H-W., Pro Bono Work, Mr. Greenberg's Goals and Final Thoughts

According to an article featured in the New York Law Journal, Surrogacy Shouldn't Block Adoption, Court Determines, Mr. Greenberg represented M.H.-W. and J.H-W., a same-sex couple. In this case Judge Barbara Salinitro wrote:
"The court is not being asked to enforce the surrogacy contract that forms the basis for the adoption, nor does the relief sought include claims relating to the surrogacy agreement itself. Rather, the proposed adoptive parent…wants desperately to have equivalent legal status as the birth parent, which is what the couple had always envisioned as they proceeded on their bumpy road towards starting a family together, and is prepared to assume the rights and responsibilities that accompany legal parentage."
She continued to say the surrogacy agreement with the woman who bore the children in Mumbai, India in 2013 is of "no consequence" to the adoption proceedings in Queens. Mr. Greenberg noted that Salinitro's decision will allow the formal adoption by J.H.-W. to move forward and that the judge would likely be able to approve the adoption in May or June. What does this case mean to Mr. Greenberg? "It means that the 'best interests of the child standard'- which is the mantra, the essence, the everything of foster care and adoption-is being recognized as the determining factor in connection with my clients' petition to adopt and that the absurdly outdated law banning surrogacy in NYS will not bar this adoption from being finalized. It is a brave and wonderful written decision."

Mr. Greenberg stated that it is time for the Legislature to repeal 122 of the Domestic Relations Law. He continued to say that the law was adopted in a "different time and era" as issues were first emerging in the wake of the Baby M. case about the then-new medical technology of in-vitro fertilization. Will Legislature repeal 122? If not, how will this affect same sex marriages when it comes to surrogacy adoptions? "I truly do not know whether the Legislature will repeal the statute, but I do know that many of my learned and brilliant colleagues are working their fingers to the bone in an attempt to have them see the proverbial light of this new time and era."

Does Mr. Greenberg handle pro bono work? "Yes, I represent foster parents free of charge a few times per year."

Does the New Yorker have goals? He asserted:
"Professionally, to continue to finalize many adoptions, write more children's books-GET THEM PUBLISHED! Because I think they are truly wonderful. Personally, meet someone to love with whom I can share my delicious amazing children and have more if she is so inclined…although my friends call me a nut, I would have more children in a heartbeat. My children, quite simply, are my knights in shining armor."
Is there anything else you'd like to share about yourself personally or professionally? Mr. Greenberg claimed:
"My pride and joy-my everything in life-is my family. I have been a single dad to my son and daughter for the past 10 ½ years, in many ways the fictional Atticus Finch comes to mind; I like to think that I follow a moral compass which I teach to my children, Toma's and Jojo, and bring with me to my law practice. I have actually become friends with several of my clients over the years and have received dozens of family pictures from foster and adoptive parents. Awards are fine, I have received a few, but there's nothing like seeing the smiles and tears of joy the moment an adoption is finalized. How on earth would I choose to practice any other type of law? It is priceless and wonderful.

Many people think that I adopted my children, given what I do for a living, but they are my biological children. The point though, is that whether a parent gives birth or adopts a child, children are our future. Our hearts and souls must go into the rearing of all children and the key, always the key, is LOVE. My new book, yet to be self-published, is entitled, 'Adoption is Love.' This is simple, pure and true."
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( 96 votes, average: 4.2 out of 5)
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