Furman and Furman Attorneys LLP

Highly Specialized Criminal Defense, Fire Arms and Self Defense, Personal Injury and Adoption Law Firm
serving clients in Florida and Alabama

Monday, 03 June 2013 11:45


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“This feels like the movie Groundhog Day,” I told our CPA when we were notified by the IRS that our family’s adoption tax expenses were being audited for a second time. And there was not anything new that the IRS wanted to look at; just the same audit of the same expenses. All for a second time.

In 2009, my wife and I adopted our daughter Rachel from India, and immediately petitioned the local California court, which then officially declared my wife and me to be Rachel’s adoptive parents.  We gave the local Social Security office all of our paperwork, but it delayed giving our daughter a social security number. A few months later, we filed our 2009 returns anyway, and the IRS audited our adoption expenses. After much shuffling of papers, the IRS notified us that our adoption tax credit would not be allowed for 2009, but could be used for 2010. The IRS even suggested a specific dollar amount.

When we filed our 2010 returns, we claimed the exact amount for the adoption tax credit that the IRS had suggested. The IRS audited our adoption expenses anyway!

This time I re-sent to the IRS not only all of our adoption expenses – the exact same expenses sent in the previous audit – but I added a copy of the IRS letter from the previous audit. The IRS accepted our adoption expenses and allowed the tax credit. No changes were made to our 2010 tax returns.

This saga was all in the back of my mind when I heard that the IRS was harassing various conservative groups that were applying for non-profit status. There were also reports of IRS audits expanding beyond the group itself, auditing the personal and business returns of the person filing for tax-exempt status on behalf of the conservative group. In one case, an application for non-profit status by the group “True The Vote,” resulted in not only hundreds of questions from the IRS, but an over two-year wait on the application. The IRS then audited the personal and business returns of the head of True The Vote, and ATF, OSHA and a state version of the EPA all piled on and inspected the family’s business for good measure.

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IN "THE EMPEROR'S New Clothes," a preening monarch is hoodwinked into believing that he's just bought a magnificent outfit when all he's been sold is a bill of (dry) goods. Prancing around in what he thinks is cloth of gold, the emperor is complimented by his obsequious subjects. They all would have lived happily ever after had a young boy not pointed his finger and said "he's naked!"

I love that story for what it tells us about the human capacity for self-delusion. We often believe what our hearts suggest despite the clear and urgent message relayed by facts.

Philadelphia has been getting a powerful lesson in self-delusion these past five weeks, as Kermit Gosnell has gone on trial and shown us a disturbing aspect of the abortion industry.

Of course, the supporters of pro-choice and their ubiquitous friends in the media will deny that fact. They, like the emperor's tailor, hope that most of us are gullible enough to believe that Gosnell was an outlier who is as much the face of reproductive rights as Josef Mengele was the face of scientific research.

But their arguments, necessary and understandable from a pro-choice perspective, are weak and contradicted by the facts, which are far more substantial than those invisible imperial garments.

To hear the abortion advocates of Planned Parenthood, NOW and NARAL Pro Choice America, the only way to prevent more Gosnells is to preserve Roe v. Wade. This is exactly what they want us to believe, hoping we don't notice that Gosnell exists precisely because Roe created him. Harry Blackmun did Jesus one better. The son of God turned water into wine, while Mr. Justice conjured a right to intrauterine murder out of the right to use birth control.

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Thursday, 16 May 2013 14:56


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hangoutWelcome to beautiful Baldwin County, Alabama, a true paradise on Earth.  However, me being  an old hippie, there are certain things you need to know.  One reason that this area is so cool is that there is very little crime.  The reason for that is  that law enforcement is very severe.  City cops (blue cars, Bay Minette, Loxley, Robertsdale, Summerdale, Foley, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores), Sheriff’s deputy’s (brown cars) and State Troopers (Grey cars) are waiting  bust you for alcohol and drug related offenses.  They will target out of state vehicles, especially if you have long hair, piercings, tattoos, Phish bumper stickers, any sign of psychedelia about you.  Well, you get the idea.  You probably don’t hunt, but the analogy would be that they spread grain in a field, wait  for the birds to come in, then shoot them.  They won’t shoot you, but they will arrest you. I know the Sheriff, and most local cops.  They are not bad people, but they are not hippies, and they will not let you go, if you are caught for drugs or alcohol.  Be Smart.  Be careful.  They will also have shaggy looking guys in the crowd waiting to share a joint with you, or get a tab of X  or Lortab.  Most of them are undercover cops.  Have fun, but cut out the below business card and put it in your wallet or purse.  I answer my phone 24/7. Call me if you are caught up in a Gulf Shores Hang-Out Dragnet.


WARRIOR, Alabama - Think about how a child grows up. Consider the parents and that bloodline.

What would it be like not meeting a biological parent until you were 18 years old? Or that you barely knew the woman who gave birth to you before she passed away at age 32?

Corner senior Blake Byrd has lived that, but his childhood still came with a Mom and Dad.

The four-sport athlete's story comes with a backdrop of diamonds, goalposts and hoops. Byrd, a 2013 regional winner in the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Program, was dealt the cards in life that fits the purpose of the prestigious program.

His story doesn't begin or end with him standing in the on-deck circle this month. It just matures. The multi-sport standout was waiting for his first time up when his adopted father got his attention.

"My Dad now was like, 'Guess who came to see you that day?'" Byrd said. "I look up and don't recognize the man with him. I thought it could be a college coach or scout."

When he narrates the moment, it gets confusing. His "real Dad" re-introduced him to his "real father" at a time most can only focus on first-pitch fastballs.

"He said, 'That's your father,' and I look up and don't recognize him," Byrd said. "I had a glimpse in my mind of him from when I was 4 or 5. It is weird to see your Dad and not recognize him. I hadn't seen him in 16 years and then I see him again in a baseball game."

A chain-link fence framed the reunion. The face looked like his, but Tal Byrd wasn't nearly as tall as he was. He's older, but his biological father is still not even 40 years old.

"It was breathtaking," Blake said. "I was so weak in the batter's box. I couldn't comprehend it."

Read more of this story on the Mobile Press Register

Wednesday, 24 April 2013 00:00

Stories about adoption

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Earlier this month, I attended a fabulous book launch soiree for one of my favorite authors and friend, Patti Callahan Henry.

As luck would have it, Henry, the best-selling author of nine novels, relocated to Birmingham a few years ago. There's no doubt about it: our community has greatly benefited from her dedication and contribution to literacy and libraries.

But that's another story.

Her book party was to celebrate the publication of her brand new novel, "And Then I Found You." Officially released this month, the book tells the story of Kate Vaughn, a young woman who secretly gave up a daughter for adoption 13 years earlier. When her long lost daughter makes contact, Kate is forced to confront her past. As always, Henry creates a genuine, believable and relatable character in Kate, while effectively illustrating how the most important decisions in life are rarely easy or black and white.

Though the book is a work of fiction, the story was inspired by a personal story. In her acknowledgements, Henry thanks her middle sister, Barbi Callahan Burris, for her willingness to share her story with the rest of the world.

I devoured Henry's book, finishing it in two days. It's both poignant and compelling.

If you enjoy Henry's book, there are several other titles about the same subject that you may want to check out.

One of my all-time favorites is "The Bean Trees" by Barbara Kingsolver. In this novel, the free-spirited Taylor Greer inherits a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle at a pit stop in Tuscon, Arizona. As she unveils the story, the eloquent Kingsolver touches on themes of motherhood, love, friendship and belonging.

I also really enjoyed the newest title by Atlanta author Emily Giffin. "Where We Belong" sees the successful producer Marian Caldwell's constructed life shaken up when 18-year-old Kirby Rose knocks on her door and announces that she is the baby she gave up for adoption years ago.

Library Director Linda Andrews highly suggests "The Language of Flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. The story of a young woman who is left without support when she graduates from the foster care system, Diffenbaugh's novel is beautiful and heart-wrenching.

Children's library specialist Polly Edwards recommends two teen books. The first is Chris Crutcher's "Whale Talk," the story of a multiracial, adopted teenager who reluctantly agrees to form a swim team by recruiting some of the less popular students at his high school.

More of this story on the Mobile Press Register


James Daniel Alred pleaded guilty to  two counts of murder and leaving the scene of an accident in connection  with a 2011 wreck that killed a Creola couple asleep in their home. Alred, who police say was intoxicated, crashed his pickup truck into the  building and then ran from the wreckage.

Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood announced that he had discovered new evidence that might help defendant Jerome Burton.           Jerome Burton.JPG                                                          

Burton stands accused of shooting his wife to death and then burning down their Irvington home. Blackwood said he was re-interviewing witnesses Friday afternoon and received information from a St. Elmo Volunteer Fire Department official that had not been in any of the investigative reports.

a Mobile man pleading guilty to  first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy and third-degree domestic violence. Mobile County Circuit Judge Robert Smith sentenced Justin Daniel Gaskins to 20 years, with five years in prison and the rest suspended.

Another defendant Monday tried to take back a guilty plea. Wood sentenced Charles  Gene Dees Jr. to 20 years in prison for the murder of Allan Thomas in his Citronelle home and expressed his displeasure with the defendant’s efforts to withdraw the guilty plea he entered in December.

Pippa C. Abston, M.D., Ph.D., is a pediatrician who lives in Huntsville. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  Pills.jpg   Alabama voters need to know about a state bill in the pipeline that would mandate the incorrect medical care of premature babies.

  The text of SB 3 (see www.openbama.org) sounds harmless on first reading; it appears to streamline the approval process for medications given to premature infants and require our Medicaid program to "ensure" all medications are dosed, at a minimum, according to the FDA guidelines.  I can understand why the bill almost got passed last year, because if I were not a pediatrician I also would have thought this sounded fine.

It's not.  In fact, it's not only a very bad idea but a frightening precedent.  Several physicians went to Montgomery last spring to explain why, and the bill got dropped. Because it has returned, I'm going to do my best to make sure voters at least know the true story.

If Medicaid is forced by SB 3 to ensure the use of FDA guidelines, we would be required to commit outright malpractice.  The FDA produces guidelines when a medicine is first approved and rarely changes them later to reflect new research.  If I applied the FDA instructions for penicillin when treating strep throat, I would prescribe the wrong dose.  I'd overdose a premature baby with gentamicin, another antibiotic, and risk permanent kidney damage we now know how to avoid. This is a perfect example of why legislators should not get into the business of dictating medical practice.  Science changes rapidly, with new studies coming out every day-- if bills like SB 3 become a trend, excellent medical care will be against the law.

We should be especially concerned about one medicine given to premature babies, palivizumab (brand name Synagis).  It is an antibody given by monthly injections to reduce the risk of hospitalization with RSV, a virus that makes young babies wheeze.  It does not reduce deaths.  The FDA protocol is outdated, so pediatricians use the 2009 guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).  These guidelines limit treatment only to babies who would benefit.  SB 3 would require Medicaid to ensure palivizumab shots for some babies who wouldn't be helped and over-treat others with extra doses.  Aside from the discomfort of unneeded injections, the missed work time for parents, the extra exposure to waiting room germs, and the estimated $9 million wasted cost to our state, what's the problem? 

First, every medicine sold has side effects.  Although palivizumab appears quite safe, there have been rare cases of severe allergic reactions, less than 1 case per 100,000 babies.  A few babies have died.  We talk about weighing the risk-benefit ratio in medicine every day.  The acceptable risk of death for a medicine your baby doesn't need at all?  Zero.

Second, we should be disturbed that SB 3 targets Medicaid specifically.  All insurers in this state use the same correct prescribing guidelines Medicaid does now for palivizumab.  This means a baby with private insurance will be allowed to have up-to-date treatment but a baby with Medicaid will have outdated, substandard care.  SB 3 would be a sort of reverse Tuskegee--instead of being denied care, infants in poor families would receive the wrong treatment or the wrong dose of a needed medication. 

Should legislators substitute the AAP guidelines?  No, because even the best guidelines can be too slow to change.  For the sake of patient safety, details of medical care should never be put into the shackles of law.  As for streamlining treatment authorization, SB 3 would require Medicaid to rush approvals or give a baby medication before being certain it is correct.  In medicine, rushing means mistakes.  We do not have difficulties obtaining medication approval for premature babies from Alabama Medicaid in a timely manner.  I know of no case where a baby has been harmed by the current process. 

Now, it's premature babies -- next time, who else?  Let's put a stop to this.  Please call your state legislators and members of the Senate Health Committee and ask them to say no to SB 3.  Let licensed professionals practice medicine, not lawmakers.

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