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Joan Heifetz Hollinger has always fought for the rights of others. Early in her career, Joan championed civil rights as a lobbyist for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.This fuel to secure equal opportunity and full citizenship for others spurred Joan to pursue a lifelong dedication to helping people create and sustain different kinds of families, including families formed through adoption and assisted reproductive technology.
When Joan began studying adoption and reproductive health care laws and practices in the 1970s, she “was stunned to discover the profound effects that the law and government regulations have on personal and intimate relationships, and especially, on decisions about whether, when and how to have and raise children.” Since then, she has been engaged with trying to interpret and shape statutory and constitutional principles in order to facilitate, rather than impede, childbearing as well as decisions to terminate unwanted pregnancies.
Joan is known as an outspoken advocate for permanency for neglected, abused, and abandoned children. As a leading scholar on adoption and child welfare law and practice, she has been involved in multiple efforts to overhaul the policies and laws governing domestic and inter-country adoption and, particularly, to ensure that foster and adoptive children are treated equally without regard to their race, color, national origin, gender or sexual orientation.
As Joan learned more about the circumstances of children who were being raised in “non-traditional” settings by one or more adults who were not their biological or genetic parents, she became involved in litigation and statutory reforms intended to protect children’s ties to their de facto and psychological parents. More recently, her expertise in parentage laws has spilled over into her ongoing work on behalf of children with gay parents. In addition to the many amicus briefs she has written in precedent-setting adoption and custody cases, she is now serving as amicus for herself and other family law professors throughout the country in the dozens of state and federal appeals court cases that have successfully challenged the constitutionality of bans on marriage by same-sex couples.
Though now retired from UC Berkeley Law School, Joan has not slowed down. She remains a sought-after expert on adoption, parentage and marriage for same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples. She is also the principal author and editor of Adoption Law and Practice available at the LexisNexis® Store.