LGBT Families: Parenting & Second-Parent Adoption

LGBT Families: Parenting and Flaming Hoops of Second-Parent Adoption

LGBT Families and their personal stories are both moving and informative when planning your own family as a gay couple. At 30 weeks pregnant, my favorite time of each day is the moment when I lie down in bed and watch my stomach curiously shift as my daughter turns and rolls beneath the surface. “Look! Look!” I tell my wife when I can feel a movement is imminent, and she will place her hand on my belly, eager to make some early connection with the little creature that will be the center of our lives in ten short weeks. Each day we talk about how excited we are to meet our daughter — to see her, to feel her, to learn about her personality and if you’re my wife you will talk elatedly about teaching her how to throw a football.

In the midst of this excitement about our new family, we are beginning another new process — a second-parent adoption, so that my wife can also be recognized as our daughter’s legal parent. Although my wife’s name will be listed on our daughter’s birth certificate, and although we are legally married in New York State, and although we carefully chose our sperm donor together and although she will change a thousand poopie diapers and fall asleep reading Dr. Seuss books to our daughter one day — she will not have legal status as a parent to our child until we complete an extensive and expensive adoption process. Straight couples sometimes also choose to do second-parent adoptions, but this typically only occurs among unmarried straight couples when one is not the biological parent of the child. However, for the thousands of married same-sex couples like ourselves who have chosen to start a family and have children together, marriage or parental names on the birth certificate are not enough to secure our families.

LGBT Families of all kinds have second parent adoptions

We began researching second-parent adoptions for same-sex couples once we found out I was pregnant. We weren’t entirely convinced it was necessary; we live in and mostly travel to states with marriage equality laws in place and it seemed far-fetched that we would find ourselves in an unfriendly hospital where my wife would be barred from visiting me or making decisions on behalf of our daughter. And yet, all of our LGBT parent friends have gone through the adoption process, and even our LGBT friends without kids — including lawyers, nurses, activists and policymakers have encouraged us to do it. Only my moms, two lesbians who raised me and my siblings in New England years before any state recognized gay marriage, questioned the necessity of a second-parent adoption. “Listen honey, if you are ever in an emergency — you will find a way. Nothing will keep you guys from your child,” was my mother’s trusting advice. Yet LGBT families have faced these types of challenges for years and will continue to face them as long as there aren’t federal protections in place.

Despite last year’s momentous Supreme Court decision finding the Defense of Marriage Act’s (DOMA) ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, LGBT families still face what is often referred to as a “patchwork” of laws and regulations across the United States, including those that can prohibit a “non-recognized” same-sex parents from covering their child on their health insurance plan, visiting a sick child in a hospital, or from consenting to necessary medical care. In the worst of cases, a child could be removed from the family home if the legal parent dies and there’s no second-parent adoption in place.

In states that do allow LGBT parents to petition for second-parent adoptions (and at the time of this writing only 14 states and D.C. allow this), the adoption process can vary regionally, and even from judge to judge. This type of arbitrary consideration for a child’s “best interest” is likely to happen more with the passage of any federal legislation such as the recently introduced bill which would allow adoption and foster care service providers to “refuse to work with families with whom they have personal, religious, or moral objections.” As the attorney who is working on our adoption told us, “Less than half the states currently recognize same-sex marriages. If you were to leave NY for any purpose, there could be issues. Although you and your wife are in concert on this, if you were in another state and became disabled or died, she might have to deal with interfering relatives or an unfriendly Child Protective Services, medical or court system. A birth certificate is not proof of parentage and not entitled to full faith and credit in all states. A court order is your best protection.”

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by Allison Auldridge, huffingtonpost.com, August 15, 2015

Surrogacy Services Suspension: Nepal’s Top Court Orders

Nepal’s top court orders suspension of surrogacy services

Nepal’s top court has ordered a halt to commercial surrogacy services in the Himalayan nation until it rules on the legality of the practice, an official said Wednesday. Nepal has become a destination for foreigners, including many Israelis, seeking to have children through surrogate mothers. The practice is controversial, with critics saying it exploits the poverty of women.

Although Nepal has no laws on its books covering surrogacy, the government last year allowed foreign women to serve as surrogates in Nepal but barred local women.

“There are no laws regarding surrogacy… it raises many constitutional and legal questions,” said Nahakul Subedi, spokesman for the Supreme Court.

“So the court issued a stay order on surrogacy services yesterday … until the case is settled,” Subedi told AFP.

Advocate Prabin Pandak, who filed the original lawsuit against the practice, told AFP the court’s order would put a stop to the registration of new cases.

“Women should not be a subject of trade, neither should a child,” Pandak said.

“Nepali women are not allowed to be surrogate mothers but they are misrepresented as Indian and used for surrogacy,” she said.

Nepal has become an attractive destination for couples who find its services cheaper than those offered by surrogacy agencies in the West.

Israel in April airlifted 25 infants born to Indian surrogate mothers in Kathmandu after Nepal was hit by a devastating quake that killed nearly 9,000 people.

In Israel, only heterosexual couples are legally able to use surrogacy, and there are many restrictions on who can serve as a surrogate. While straight couples must go through an onerous committee process in order to qualify for surrogacy, homosexual couples are left completely out of the system. Consequently, they must look to foreign surrogacy as a means of producing a child biologically related to one member of the couple.

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AFP and Times of Israel Staff – August 26, 2015

Same sex couples face more obstacles to infertility treatment

Study suggests same sex couples face more obstacles to infertility treatment

Same sex couples encounter more obstacles to treatment for infertility than opposite-sex couples, suggests a new study that will be presented at the 110th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA).

“For example, same sex couples often must undergo psychological evaluations before being treated for infertility — a process that is not normally required for opposite-sex couples,” said study author Ann V. Bell, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Delaware, who noted that the U.S. medical system is standardized to work with heterosexual couples.

Bell’s study is based on interviews with 95 people — 41 heterosexual women of low socioeconomic status, 30 heterosexual men, and 24 women in same-sex relationships. “These people are on the margins of our understandings of infertility, as it is generally viewed as a white, wealthy, heterosexual woman’s issue,” Bell said.

The new study builds on her 2014 book Misconception, which focused on the 41 women of low socioeconomic status, as well as 17 women of high socioeconomic status, to explore social class and infertility. Through her interviews with the 41-women for the book, Bell found that their experiences related to infertility were shaped by inaccurate stereotypes and that doctors often assumed infertility was not a problem for them.

Bell has extended her earlier research beyond social class to include the effects of infertility on men and same-sex couples. The “medicalization” of infertility — studying and treating it as a medical condition — is a process that has increasingly led to disparities and inequalities, she said.

“Most of the research out there is about women, even though just as many men are affected by infertility,” Bell said. “It’s still viewed as a woman’s issue.”

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EurekaAlert.org, August 26, 2015

CHICAGO —

Planning your parenting journey / 2015 Brussels MHB

Becoming A Surrogate: The Quest For Pregnancy

Becoming A Surrogate: The Quest For Pregnancy

Mardi Palan is a hair dresser. She has a partner and a one-year-old son Forest. As a surrogate, she hopes to get $30,000 for a down payment on a home. But first, she has to get pregnant.

Back in July, a huge box arrived in the mail, filled with medications, hormones and syringes.

“I was kind  overwhelmed.”

The box came with a calendar and a list of all the medications she needs to take to help her synchronize her cycle with an egg donor.

“So each day, prenatal vitamin, aspirin, antibiotic and then a shot,” she said. “And then they send you a video of how to inject the shots. And each shot has a different needle, too. So the one that I’m doing right now is just a baby needle. And then later on the progesterone is inter-muscular. So it’s a huge needle. So it’s kind of scary to look at. I’m like, ‘Oh!’”

The first shot is Lupron and it’s used to decrease Palan’s natural hormones. Essentially, it stops her from ovulating.surrogate, surrogate attorney, legal surrogate, legal surrogacy, surrogate nyc, surrogate lawyers, surrogate lawyer

Palan also takes aspirin, to thin her blood. Clots can be a problem when taking hormones.

And she was taking birth control pills to make sure she doesn’t get pregnant before the eggs are transferred, but she stopped taking those last month.

Finally, both Palan and her partner, Caleb Weidenbach, have to take an antibiotic.

Although he agreed to take the pill, Weidenbach said he questions the requirement.

“I understand that if there is some kind of infection, they probably don’t want that to be shared with the egg,” he said.  “But I feel like maybe they should do a test, to see if there’s an infection, instead of just kind of handing out the antibiotics.”

The medicine is used to treat bacterial diseases like pneumonia and urinary tract infections.

Palan is working with Oregon Reproductive Medicine in Portland. It’s one of the area’s biggest in vitro fertilization clinics and has clients across the globe.

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by OPB | Aug. 19, 2015

Gay Rights: Couple’s Legal Battle in Thailand

Gay Rights: Couple’s Legal Battle in Thailand Highlights Commercial Surrogacy Issues

Gay rights amid Thailand’s commercial surrogacy industry has been complicated and controversial this past year. It’s been half a year since Baby Carmen was born in Thailand, but aside from the pictures, everything else remains fuzzy. For biological father Gordon Lake and his partner, Manuel Santos, what started as a legal agreement to have a surrogate baby has evolved into a custody battle.

But one thing remains clear to the American-born Lake. “Carmen is a U.S. citizen,” he said. “She’s biologically my daughter. That’s been proven with a DNA test. The embassy has issued a CRBA, a consular report birth abroad, which certifies her as a U.S. citizen.”

Thailand’s commercial surrogacy industry made headlines last year when a newborn with Down syndrome was left behind by an Australian couple, while they took his healthy twin sister.

Following the negative exposure, the government banned commercial surrogacy. The law came into effect in July.

But the surrogate mother said she wasn’t aware of one fact about the couple.

“If they were a mother and father like a normal parents under Thai culture, I would have no problem being a surrogate for them,” said the surrogate, Patida Kusongsang. “If I had known they were a gay couple, I would not have done this for them, because in Thai culture we don’t have this kind of status.”

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by Steve Sanford, August 14, 2015 – VOANews.com

Adoption Rights: The next frontier for Alabama

Adoption rights: The next frontier for gay Alabama couples two months after marriage ruling

For a handful of Alabama’s family-minded gay couples, first came love, then came marriage, then came bureaucratic headaches, legal bills and months of waiting. Adoption rights are the next frontier for gay Alabama couples two months after marriage ruling.

They’re not looking to become the state’s first gay divorcees, though that milestone is likely not far off if it has not already been reached. These couples are instead looking to take the traditional next step of expanding their families now that their weddings and honeymoons are in the rear-view, and they are specifically interested in adopting a child.

Even a year ago, the idea of gay Alabamian couples embarking on the path toward married parenthood would have been inconceivable for many Alabamians.

But the Supreme Court cleared the path for achieving that goal with its landmark gay marriage ruling less than two months ago, and a number of gay Alabama couples are facing the myriad challenges that all couples seeking to adopt must overcome, in addition to some that are specific to would-be adoptive parents of the same gender.

Newlyweds Clay Jones and Joe Babin are at the vanguard of the small but growing list of gay Alabama married couples seeking to adopt an infant. As of last month the Irondale residents have passed the background checks, screenings, physical examinations, financial assessments and other evaluations required of all couples of any sexuality hoping to adopt, and now they are “just waiting on a baby,” according to Babin.

Jones, 41, and Babin, 39, say that they are at a stage in their lives mentally, emotionally and financially where they are ready to have a child, and that the timing just seems to be right given their circumstances, their age and the political developments of the past year.

“We’re ready to go. We kind of made the decision that we were ready and we knew we financially and mentally had some stability to offer, that we were going to try to do it. So then we were at the point where we can now, and then we got married. So I mean I feel good that it’s going to happen,” Jones said. “[With] what’s happening in the south of the United States and what’s happening in Alabama, it’s time. I feel like it’s time that it will happen.”

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by Connor Sheets, AL.com, August 16, 2015

The Transgender Dad: Paths to Gay Fatherhood

The Transgender Dad: Paths to Gay Fatherhood

Transgender dads obviously come to parenthood in the same way as many lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals, via adoption, foster care and surrogacy. But as we detailed in a Gays With Kids article this past February, some trans men also choose to have their own biological children by carrying them themselves.
“Trans men who are considering fatherhood potentially face an extra layer of discrimination in various levels of the family planning process,” Sion told me, who is a trans dad featured in that article. “Fertility clinics, prenatal health providers and adoption agencies may all discriminate against a person for being transgender.”

Stephen Stratton, another trans man featured in that article, also bemoaned the lack of education and support in the medical and fertility fields when it comes to transmasculine pregnancy. “There is never any guarantee that the people you need to work with are going to be sensitive, understanding or knowledgeable,” he wrote to me via email. “The hospital we birthed at was so welcoming and the nursing staff respected our birth plan and made us feel at ease and at home.” But, he said, not everyone has a “rainbows and transgendersunshine” experience with their health care providers.

Of course, the social stigma attached to being a trans man who is also pregnant extends far beyond the walls of hospitals and fertility clinics. For proof, one need look no further than the tabloids and media circus that erupted after Thomas Beatie publicly announced his pregnancy as a trans man several years ago.

“Not everyone was warm and accepting of how we created our family,” Stephen said. “Some people did and said hurtful things.” Despite the challenges, though, Stephen says he wouldn’t change a thing. “I have an amazing child who I love more than anything, I would… do it over a hundred times to get to be her Papa.”

While acceptance of trans people and parents is certainly increasing in the United States, there are added things to think about, Sion said, when a trans man is considering having a biological child. “Some doctors are not educated on the effects of hormone treatment and may offer a trans patient inaccurate medical advice because of that,” he wrote. “It’s tough.” He also noted that parental rights can often be brought into question for trans men going through a divorce since some lawyers still make the case that being transgender is a mental illness.

Click here to read the entire article.

gayswithkids.com by David Dodge, August 14, 2015

Same Sex Couples Challenge Adoption Ban

Mississippi Ban on Adoptions by Same Sex Couples Is Challenged

When Mississippi adopted a one-sentence law forbidding adoptions by same-sex couples in 2000, it was not so surprising: For decades, gays and lesbians in several states had run into roadblocks when they sought to adopt or foster children. So it was a potent marker of how fast laws and attitudes on gay rights issues have changed on Wednesday when civil rights lawyers filed suit in federal court challenging the law.

Mississippi’s ban is now the only one of its kind in the nation. And legal experts said that in the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision upholding same-sex marriage it was highly unlikely the state’s ban could hold up in court. The lawsuit was filed by the Campaign for Southern Equality, the Family Equality Council and four Mississippi same-sex couples.

“We’ve come so far here just recently, it’s pretty amazing the speed of the change,” said Janet Smith, a plaintiff in the case, who is seeking to adopt the 8-year-old daughter, Hannah Marie Phillips, she is raising with her wife, Donna Phillips. Because of the adoption ban, Ms. Smith has no official status in Hannah’s life, Ms. Phillips being her only legal parent.

“We’ve had no problem, but I am in the military, so I could be called or activated at any time, and we are concerned about the legal aspects for Jan if something happened,” said Ms. Phillips, who is a captain in the Mississippi Air National Guard.

At one point, they tried to find someone who would do the home study that would be a requirement for adoption, but could not find anyone who would come to their home to do it. Both women are cautiously hopeful that the lawsuit will quickly change their situation. “It seems like it’s just the logical next step, but oftentimes Mississippi doesn’t take the logical next step,” Ms. Smith said.

29% of same sex couples raising children

Last year, 29 percent of Mississippi’s same-sex-couples were raising children under 18 in their households — the highest percentage of any state in the nation, the complaint said.

“The Mississippi Adoption Ban writes inequality into Mississippi law by requiring that married gay and lesbian couples and parents be treated differently than all other married couples in Mississippi, unequivocally barring them from adoption without regard to their circumstances,” the complaint said. It called the ban “an outdated relic of a time when courts and legislature believed that it was somehow O.K. to discriminate against gay people simply because they are gay.”

Neither the governor’s office nor the state attorney general’s office returned messages Tuesday afternoon, asking whether the state would fight to uphold the ban against the challenge.

Roberta Kaplan, the New York lawyer handling the case, said that after the Supreme Court ruling, it seemed obvious to her and her clients that “the time was right to challenge the adoption ban and get it cleaned up.”

That the case now seems more likely to be a mop-up operation than an all-out legal confrontation is an indicator of just how swiftly the social change has taken hold.

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New York Times, August 12, 2015 by Tamar Lewin

Same Sex Adoption Ban Struck Down

Mexico Supreme Court Strikes Down Same Sex Adoption Ban

Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a 2013 law in the southeastern state of Campeche that forbids same sex adoption of children is unconstitutional and struck it down. The challenge to the ban was filed by the state’s human rights commission. Supreme Court Judge Margarita Luna announced her intention to present the motion on a federal level in early July. Gay marriages and adoption laws are largely legal in the country’s heartland, though several far-flung states witness more opposition.

The state law was struck down in a 9-1 ruling. Presiding Judge Luis Maria Aguila said the decision was made keeping in mind the protection of adopted children. “I see no problem for a child to be adopted in a society of co-existence, which has precisely this purpose. Are we going to prefer to have children in the street, which according to statistics exceed 100,000? We attend, of course, and perhaps with the same intensity or more, to the interests of the child,” Aguila said, according to Latin American news network TeleSUR.

In June, the apex court also ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny marriage to people of the same sex — a ruling that came shortly before a similar one from the U.S. Supreme Court. The Mexican court ruling does not legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, but opens the door to couples seeking marital recognition to pursue injunctions against states.

In Mexico, gay marriages were first legalized in the capital Mexico City in 2009, in a ruling that was upheld by the country’s highest court. Same-sex couples who married under the city’s law have been adopting children since 2010. In addition, same-sex marriage rights are fully recognized in the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Guerrero and Quintana Roo.

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International Business Times – August 12, 2015 By