Georgia Council of Adoption Lawyers offers Emeritus status by invitation only to GCAL Fellows who have participated as full members of GCAL for at least ten years, and who have either (1) retired from the practice of law, (2) significantly reduced their adoption-related law practice, or (3) attained the age of seventy (70) years. Our current Emeritus Fellows are:
Ruth Claiborne established herself as one of Georgia’s most pioneering and preeminent reproductive technology and adoption attorneys. In 1996-97, Ruth handled her first egg donation and gestational surrogacy cases, making her one of the very first lawyers in Georgia to ever handle assisted reproduction matters. In 1998, Ruth completed the first co-parent adoption between same-sex couples ever granted in Georgia. In 2009, she obtained the first joint pre-birth parentage order granted in Georgia to a same sex couple in a surrogacy matter.
Ruth found her niche in adoption law early in the 1980’s as co-counsel on independent adoptions. She built a referral network among healthcare professionals and with child placing agencies that also recognized the value of collaboration throughout the process. She has long been active in American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, American Academy of Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, now merged as Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA). She is a charter fellow of Georgia Council of Adoption Lawyers. Following a solo practice, Ruth is honored to have practiced with Lori Surmay and Jim Outman (Claiborne, Outman & Surmay) and since 2016 with Amy Fox, Lila Bradley, and Lynn Goldman (Claiborne | Fox | Bradley | Goldman), all of whom are AAAA and GCAL fellows.
Ruth has spent much of her career working as a judicial officer and serving as a legislative consultant before the Georgia General Assembly. She has been instrumental in drafting and successfully advocating improvements to Georgia laws on adoption and embryo donation. Ruth shares her knowledge and experience by speaking at seminars and meetings for consumers, lawyers, health professionals and advocates on legal and practical aspects of reproductive law.
In 2000, Ruth was honored by the Stonewall Bar Association with its Award for Conspicuous Service to the Stonewall Community. In 2004, she was named an Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Assistance, in recognizing her extraordinary work to promote adoption in the United States. She has also served numerous public service appointments, including the Georgia Commission on Women, Georgia Commission on Equality, and on the Georgia Commission on Child Support for 18 years, the longest tenure of any member.
Jerry Hester was born and raised in a military family and lived both overseas and in the United States until he started college. Jerry earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia, graduating with a BS degree in 1969. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army from 1969 through 1971 and returned to the University of Georgia School of Law where he earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1974.
Jerry has been practicing law for over 45 years, and during the majority of his career, he was managing partner of his own firm with its principal offices located in metro-Atlanta. In 1992 Jerry was invited to become a Fellow in the American Academy of Adoption Attorney and became a founding Fellow and Director in the Georgia Council of Adoption Lawyers in 2009. He received the United States Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s “Angels in Adoption” Award in 2002. Jerry has an AV Preeminent rating with Martindale Hubbell, and he has been recognized as one of Georgia’s Top Lawyers in Georgia Trend Magazine. In 2014, Jerry moved to St. Simons Island on a fulltime basis and manages and operates the Glynn County office of Hester Outman law firm. He also owns and operates Golden Isles Mediation, providing mediation services to attorneys throughout South Georgia.
Jerry and his wife Linda will celebrate their 53rd anniversary this year. They have two children, Justin and Amanda, and four grandchildren, Tessa and Will Cothran and Ben and Evan Hester.
|Richard A. Horder
Rick Horder received his B.A. and J.D. from the University of Florida, an L.L.M. from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an M.B.A. from Georgia State University. Rick has been recognized as an expert in adoption and assisted reproduction law and practice, having written and spoken extensively on adoption, assisted reproduction and related subjects. Rick assisted James B. Outman in re-writing of the Georgia Adoption Code in 1990. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys and a Charter Fellow of the Georgia Council of Adoption Lawyers.
Rick was recognized as an Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, and has received numerous awards for his work in the adoption area, including the William B. Spann, Jr. Award presented by the Access to Justice Committee of the ABA and the Pro Bono Project of the State Bar of Georgia; The National Center on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Award from Georgia State University; and the Florida Bar President's Pro Bono Service Award from The Florida Bar.
In addition to his work in the field of adoption, Rick has spent his career working on environmental issues. He served as an Assistant United States Attorney from 1974 — 1977 where, among other federal agencies, he represented the US EPA. He worked in private practice at Georgia-Pacific Corporation, where he was directly responsible for environmental compliance and environmental and toxic tort litigation corporatewide. He was Chair of the Environmental and Natural Resources Practice Group in Kilpatrick Stockton’s Atlanta office for 20 years and joined its predecessor firm, Kazmarek Geiger & Laseter LLP, in 2010.
Rick was married to the late Dr. Mary H. Horder, an obstetrician and gynecologist, and has three children, two of whom were adopted.
Sherry Neal is the Managing Attorney at Neal & Wright LLC. Sherry is widely recognized as an expert on Title IV-E adoption assistance benefits and has been a regular speaker on this topic, both in Georgia and nationally, for more than twenty years. Over the course of her career, Sherry has assisted close to 500 families with strengthening their families through adoption, helped adult adoptees gain access to their adoption records and original birth certificates, and guided hundreds of adoptive parents through the process of obtaining adoption subsidies and Medicaid.
As an outgrowth of her adoption practice and because of her commitment to Georgia’s adoptive families, Sherry founded the Georgia Council of Adoption Lawyers, Inc., and was the Charter President of that organization. She is also a Fellow in the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (///A), which awarded her the Amy Silberberg Award in 2017 in recognition of her work on issues involving the Title IV-E adoption subsidy, grandparents raising grandchildren, and children in foster care. Through ///A, Sherry served a term as Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Family Formation Charitable Trust.
After more than two decades assisting families with adoption matters, Sherry has pursued a Masters in Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina and currently works as the school librarian at David T. Howard Middle School. As a result, Sherry limits her adoption practice to adult adoptions and proceedings to unseal adoption records, and also provides legal services in the area of estate planning, focusing on middle income estates.
James B. Outman received his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management degree in 1967 from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in November 1971 after receiving his Juris Doctor degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC.
Jim’s practice of law has included both private practice and in-house corporate practice and he also worked in corporate management, but all the time his passion has been adoption law because he and Mary Jane adopted their late son in 1973.
In November 2000, he retired after 21 years with Georgia-Pacific and returned to private practice with Ruth Claiborne and Lori Surmay in Claiborne Outman & Surmay, PC. He retired in March 2010, but because he could really "retire" in early 2014 Jim, together with Jerry and Justin Hester formed the firm of Hester Outman LLC.
Jim has been the principal author of every piece of adoption legislation in Georgia since 1975, including the Adoption Act of 1977, which first introduced statutory forms and recognized the rights of the biological father of the adoptee. While working with Georgia-Pacific Jim drafted what became the 1990 re-codification of Georgia's 1941 Adoption Code, and he also drafted the legislation that beginning in 1998 utilizes Georgia's Putative Father Registry to provide notice to biological fathers of children who are involved in adoption and Juvenile Court dependency proceedings.
Jim was instrumental in 28 amendments to Georgia’s Adoption Code and then was the principal author of the GCAL proposal that updated Georgia’s Adoption Code in 2018, and also served as the principal author of the GCAL proposal that amended the Adoption Code in 2021.
Jim has presented at every Adoption Law & Practice Seminars sponsored by the ICLE of Georgia since 1993, and has served as the Chair since 1995. He has also presented on adoption law to both the Superior Court Judges and to their Law Clerk/Staff Attorneys at seminars sponsored by the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education (ICJE) 19 times since 1990.
In 2002 Jim was invited to be an Adoption Fellow of what is now known as the Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys; in 2020 Jim became an Honorary Adoption Fellow. In 2003, Jim was honored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute as an "Angel in Adoption" in recognition of his adoption work. In 2010 he was invited to became a founding Fellow of GCAL and serves as Co-Chair of its advocacy committee. In 2016 Jim received the Outstanding Service to the Stonewall Community Award for his pro bono work in filing amicus briefs on behalf of both AAAA and GCAL in the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, the Supreme Court of Alabama, and the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of E.L. v. V.L. In May 2019 Jim was recognized by his AAAA piers as the 2019 Fellow of Distinction.
Jim has participated in over 40 appellate cases, including the submission of 11 amicus briefs.
Although primarily engaged in civil litigation over a forty year plus career, Bill Turnipseed has had the extreme pleasure of working in the field of adoptions for most of that period of time, handling agency related placements, both private agency and DFCS, as well as private placements, many of which have involved the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children between Georgia and other states.
One of many founding members of the Georgia Council of Adoption Lawyers (GCAL), Bill also joined the Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) seven years ago, and has treasured the associations of other lawyers in that organization as well as in GCAL. He has watched and benefitted from the extraordinary work of GCAL members who have both worked for legislative change and who have given of themselves selflessly to make all of its Fellows better advocates for their clients. Bill is truly grateful to have been a member of this Organization. It has been a privilege.