Open Adoption: Not So Simple Math

Open Adoption: Not So Simple Math

I WANTED my son to become the kind of person who appreciates the beauty of the world around him, so I smiled when, at 6, he asked to borrow my camera in case he saw “something beautiful.”

Open AdoptionWe were taking a walk in the woods outside Boston, and following behind him I was surprised by how much he moved like his father. We spent that afternoon showing each other icicles and hollow trees, breaking frozen patterns in the river ice, inching too close to the water to get a better view of the bridge above.

When we arrived home, Ben said that the reason he wanted to go for a walk was to spend time with me. It had been three months since I last saw him. I smiled sheepishly and stepped into the living room, where the woman who had adopted him six years earlier sat reading the newspaper.

Is open adoption the next big thing?

It is a far cry from the moment he was born, when my 23-year-old body seemed to know exactly what to do, when I suddenly and surprisingly wanted nothing more than to admire him nursing at my breast. When, after a drugless labor, my surging hormones helped me to forget that I was a college student, that I lived in Cincinnati, that I was passionate about architecture. During those days I was roused by the slightest sound of his lips smacking, innocent newborn desire that offered my deepest fulfillment.

In the months before I gave birth, when my boyfriend and I were just getting to know the couple we had chosen, I was able to comprehend the coming exchange only on the most theoretical of levels, but it seemed like gentle math: Girl with child she can’t keep plus woman who wants but can’t have child; balance the equation, and both parties become whole again.

During those months, my son’s mother, Holly, observed that birth mothers have to accomplish in one day the monumental task of letting go that most parents have 18 years to figure out. Days after his birth, when I struggled with letting go, Holly sat with me and cried — for the children she never got to have, for the fact the adoption would bring her joy while causing me pain, and out of fear that she had already grown to love a child I might not give her.

I decided to let her take him for a night, to see if I could handle it. She drove him to Dayton, Ohio, where she was staying with family, then called and asked: “Do you want him back? I’ll bring him right now.”

UPDATED: You can now listen to our Modern Love podcast, featuring the actress Sarah Paulson reading this column and a conversation with the writer. Look for the “play” button below.

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New York Times – Modern Love by Amy Seek April, 2007

Low Income LGBT Legal Needs Identified New Report

LGBT LegalLow Income LGBT Legal Needs Identified by New Report

The report is the first of its kind in the nation and provides insight into the civil legal challenges and discrimination faced by low income LGBT individuals. It analyzes survey data from more than 300 low-income New Yorkers on a range of LGBT legal issues related to violence and harassment, housing, income and disability assistance, immigration, health care, family, employment, education, and veterans’ rights. In addition to identifying key challenges, the report provides a series of concrete findings and recommendations to improve legal services for low-income LGBT people.

“The public doesn’t usually associate poverty with the LGBT community. Unfortunately, that perception is wrong: poverty is a huge problem for many LGBT people. Yet there are far too few LGBT legal resources to address the challenges and discrimination faced by low-income LGBT individuals,” said Cathy Bowman, LGBT & HIV Unit Director at Legal Services NYC’s Brooklyn office. “Our goal with this report is to raise awareness and generate action to fight poverty in the LGBT community,” said Adam Heintz, Director of Pro Bono Services at Legal Services NYC and a primary author of the report. “Mainstream legal services organizations and LGBT groups each have a vital role to play in that fight. Legal Services NYC was very fortunate to have hundreds of low-income LGBT people share their experiences with us for this report. We owe it to them to make sure their voices—which have so often been ignored—are heard now.”

Legal Services NYC, the largest civil legal services provider in the U.S., released today a report entitled Poverty is an LGBT Issue: An Assessment of the Legal Needs of Low-Income LGBT People.

The report’s findings were taken from a survey of 310 low-income LGBT people, along with additional data from community members, experts, and other sources.

Findings of the report on low income LGBT legal needs include:

• Low income LGBT people face many of the same challenges as others living in poverty: LSNYC’s survey found that 62% of low-income LGBT New Yorkers had difficulty paying for a basic need in the past year. Analysis of every civil legal practice area explored uncovered a substantial need for services.

• LGBT Legal challenges are exacerbated by discrimination, harassment, and violence: Survey respondents reported discrimination, harassment, and violence in a range of contexts. Transgender respondents described particularly pervasive discrimination.

•Anti-LGBT harassment in public places is common: 39% of survey respondents reported being verbally harassed in public for being LGBT in just the past year.

“The public doesn’t usually associate poverty with the LGBT community. Unfortunately, that perception is wrong: poverty is a huge problem for many LGBT people. Yet there are far too few legal resources to address the challenges and discrimination faced by low-income LGBT individuals,” said Cathy Bowman, LGBT & HIV Unit Director at Legal Services NYC’s Brooklyn office.

“Our goal with this report is to raise awareness and generate action to fight poverty in the LGBT community,” said Adam Heintz, Director of Pro Bono Services at Legal Services NYC and a primary author of the report. “Mainstream legal services organizations and LGBT groups each have a vital role to play in that fight. Legal Services NYC was very fortunate to have hundreds of low-income LGBT people share their experiences with us for this report. We owe it to them to make sure their voices—which have so often been ignored—are heard now.”

The report’s findings were taken from a survey of 310 low-income LGBT people, along with additional data from community members, experts, and other sources. Findings of the report include:

• Low-income LGBT people face many of the same challenges as others living in poverty: LSNYC’s survey found that 62% of low-income LGBT New Yorkers had difficulty paying for a basic need in the past year. Analysis of every civil legal practice area explored uncovered a substantial need for services.

• LBGT Legal challenges are exacerbated by discrimination, harassment, and violence: Survey respondents reported discrimination, harassment, and violence in a range of contexts. Transgender respondents described particularly pervasive discrimination.

•Anti-LGBT harassment in public places is common: 39% of survey respondents reported being verbally harassed in public for being LGBT in just the past year.

January 19, 2016 – legal Services NYC

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New York Adoption Facts

New York Adoption Facts

New York Adoption Facts

If you are a same sex couple living in New York adoption is a topic that will definitely come up between partners looking to start, or expand, their family. Before you decide what’s best for your family, it’s a good idea to do some research, look at all your options, and even speak with an attorney that specializes in adoption before you file a petition.

What are my options for New York adoption?

Luckily, New York adoption laws don’t place many restrictions on same sex couples or the LGBT community when looking to adopt a child, as long as you pass all the required medical and background checks.

 

You need not be married or even in a relationship. When looking to adopt, here are the options available:

  • Traditional adoption: This is the process that comes to mind when most people think about adopting a child. The child is typically (but not always) a baby or very young child, and you start the process through an adoption agency. All of New York’s social service districts have an adoption unit, and this is usually a good place to start researching information. If you’re interested in an international adoption program, make sure you choose an agency that provides those services.
  • Fostering or adopting a foster child: Fostering a child is often a deeply rewarding experience and as such many people decide to go this route to bring children into their lives. There are a couple different options within the foster care system. Some people choose to be a foster parent only, with no intention to adopt. You can also be a foster parent and then decide to adopt your foster child, or, you can become a foster parent with the intention of adoption from the very beginning. A foster child is generally only available to be adopted if they cannot be reunited with their family.

Once you start the adoption process, there are a few different ways to petition for New York adoption.

  • Petition Jointly: You do not have to be married or in a partnership to petition to adopt a child in New York, however, if you are married or life partners a joint petition will be the easiest and most seamless way for both partners to create a legal relationship with your child. With a joint petition, legal parentage is automatically established for both parents.
  • Second Parent Adoption: A second parent adoption will be necessary if you did not file a joint petition to adopt your child, if you are not married and if only one partner is legally their parent. Both parents will still need to participate in the process.
  • Step Parent Adoption: Marriage does not automatically create a legal relationship with the child; a legal relationship will need to be established for the non adoptive or non biological parent (if your partner has a biological child). This process is similar to second parent adoption and applies to married couples.
  • Single Parent Adoption: You can be single and petition to adopt a child in the State of New York.
  • Adopting a Foster Child: Before adopting a foster child, you will need to get certified to be a foster parent. If you plan from the beginning to adopt a foster child, you will then go through the process of adoption matching, pre-adoption placement and then follow through with filing the adoption petition and finalizations.

 

 

As head of the Nontraditional Family and Estates division of Albert W. Chianese & Associations, Anthony M. Brown has provided gay and lesbian couples and individuals with all the help and information they need to make an informed decision on how to start their families. If you’re ready to start or expand your family through adoption, call 212-953-6447 or email Brown@awclawyer.com.

Ban On Same Sex Marriages Still In Effect

Ban On Same Sex Marriages Still In Effect Alabama Chief Justice Says

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s latest move stating ban on same sex marriages is still effective is “sad & pathetic,” Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed tweeted on Wednesday.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, in an administrative order issued on Wednesday morning, announced that a ban on granting same-sex couples’ marriages remains in effect in Alabama until a specific court order is issued to end the ban.

Specifically, Moore wrote that a prior order of the Alabama Supreme Court that barred probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples remains in effect.

Moore’s order, however, makes no mention of a contradictory federal court injunction issued this past year.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision from this past June in Obergefell v. Hodges, Moore wrote, only specifically struck down the marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. While it is precedent that would be applicable to other states’ bans, he wrote, it is not a specific order that would end Alabama’s ban.

“[A]n order issued by a court with jurisdiction over the subject matter and person must be obeyed by the parties until it is reversed by orderly and proper proceedings,” he explained.

Moore concluded: “Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect.”

Moore stated that he issued the order as the head of the Unified Judicial System of Alabama and under his authority “to correct or alleviate any condition or situation adversely affecting the administration of justice within the state” or take other action “necessary for the orderly administration of justice within the state.”

by Chris Geidner – Buzzfeed.com, January 6, 2016

Gay Estate Planning: What You Need To Know

Gay Estate Planning – What you really need to know.

With an estimated 8 million adults within the USA identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, it is imperative that the facts are clear and that there is help and assistance available when considering the issue of gay estate planning. Since the Supreme Court’s Ruling to make marriage legal for everyone across the whole of America, there has been an impact on the legislation regarding gay estate planning, which is quickly turning into traditional estate planning. Knowing exactly where you stand legally is of the utmost importance to you and your loved ones in case of the unexpected and at this point in time, there are several beneficial legal changes for same sex couples that you can use when thinking about your end-of-life plans and the arrangements for the division of your assets after- (Click here for a list of necessary documents) be smart and follow these guidelines to help you in your gay estate planning:

 

Maximize Your Company Retirement Plans

When one spouse dies, the other is now legally entitled to be the sole primary beneficiary of any qualified retirement plan (federal law states that this may be a 401(k); defined-contribution plan; defined benefit plan or Keogh plan for self-employed people, but not an IRA). They may therefore roll over the remaining plan to their own without having to take the minimum or lump-sum distributions until the year that the surviving spouse would usually take them (age 70.5 years in most cases). You now need your spouse’s written permission in order to name anyone else as a beneficiary for ERISA qualified retirement plans. Prior to retirement, employer benefits previously only available to heterosexual couples are now available to all married couples, and same-sex couples looking at gay estate planning should ensure that they are receiving the spousal benefits they are entitled to. To be on the safe side, always name your spouse as your primary beneficiary on your company’s beneficiary designation forms.

 

Ensure Your Parental Rights

 

Although a lot of the law has changed as a consequence of the Obergefell marriage ruling, one area where there is still contention is child guardianship. Depending on the State you reside in, you may not be regarded as the legal parent of a child even if you were married to their biological or adoptive parent. Second parent or step parent adoption is highly recommended in these cases to ensure the emotional, legal and financial security of the child and the upholding of the parental rights of the surviving spouse. Anthony Brown at Time For Families specialises in gay estate planning and family law and can help with any questions or concerns you may have about the legality of your parental status.

 

Take Advantage of Portability

 

Forbes goes into detail about this legal quirk along with ‘gift splitting’ in this article that was written after the Supreme Court declared the same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional:

 

This is the ability of widows and widowers to add the unused estate tax exclusion (now $5.43 million) of the spouse who died most recently to their own. The concept was introduced by the 2010 tax law (although the term was invented by tax experts and does not appear in the legislation). Portability was made permanent by the 2012 tax law.

To take advantage of portability, the executor handling the estate of the spouse who died will need to transfer the unused exclusion to the survivor, who can then use it to make lifetime gifts or pass assets through his or her estate. The prerequisite is filing an estate tax return when the first spouse dies, even if no tax is owed. This return is due nine months after death with a six-month extension allowed. If the executor doesn’t file the return or misses the deadline, the spouse loses the right to portability. (See this post, “The Deadline Every Married Person (And Financial Advisor) Needs To Know About.”)

 gay estate planning, family estate planning, estate planning NY

Use Your Gift-Splitting Rights

 

 Currently, you can give up to $14,000 each year to as many recipients as you would like without incurring gift tax. Spouses can combine this annual exclusion–a process called gift-splitting–to jointly give $28,000 to any person tax-free. Spouses can gift-split by giving $14,000 each, $28,000 from a joint account or $28,000 from one of their individual accounts. These restrictions apply whether you make outright gifts to individuals or put the funds into trusts for their benefit.

Any gift that’s more than the annual exclusion counts against the lifetime gift tax exclusion – the amount that each individual can give away during life without triggering gift tax. Once you have passed the limit, which is currently $5.43 million, gift tax of up to 40% applies. Couples can also gift-split with their applicable exclusion amount and together transfer up to $10.5 million through lifetime gifts.

 

It is essential for those considering gay estate planning to research as much as they can on the issue. However, the information available can often be overwhelming or confusing, or you may not know what action to take once you have made decisions on these matter. For a reputable and trustworthy attorney in New York who can help with family and estate issues, call Anthony M. Brown, head of Nontraditional Family and Estates division of Albert W. Chianese & Associations, at 212-953-6447 or email questions to Brown@awclawyer.com.

Surrogacy Ban In China Reversed?

Surrogacy Ban In China Reversed?

Last week Chinese authorities also decided to drop a plan to ban surrogacy. Now aspiring parents can seek the help of Chinese women to act as surrogate mothers to gestate and give birth to their children. If China had banned the use of surrogate mothers, only those Chinese wealthy enough to hire surrogates overseas, in countries such as the United States, would have been able to use the practice.

Surrogacy

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, which is the main law-making body in China, decided last week to withdraw the draft legislation for banning use of surrogates. The move was surprising because China rarely reverses itself on a draft law after it has been publicized. Such a move could be seen as the government being indecisive, which could hurt its public image.

January 1 marks the official end of China’s one-child policy that for 36 years has forced couples to limit their offspring to slow the country’s population growth and now may plan to reverse their ban on surrogates.

“Some members of the Standing Committee argued the surrogacy cannot be totally forbidden,” Zhang Chunsheng, head of legal affairs at the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said at a news conference.

Even if there was a law banning it, “rich people would still be able to go abroad to countries where surrogacy is allowed,” Zhang said.

Surrogacy usually costs between $125,000 and $175,000 in countries such as the United States. The cost is somewhat less expensive in other countries, such as Thailand, India and Nepal, sources said.

Infertility rates rising

Some legislators argued that domestic surrogacy should be allowed because infertility rates are rising in China, and many aspiring parents need the option to have their own babies. A ban would only encourage the vast black market in the surrogacy business, which often results in exploitation of women, legislators said.

January 1, 2016 – VOANews.com by Saibal Dasgupta

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New Openly Gay Mayor, takes office in Salt Lake City

openly gayBiskupski, Salt Lake City’s New Openly Gay Mayor, takes office, pledges to build a more ‘inclusive’ city

Biskupski’s historic election, as the city’s first openly gay mayor, was met with warm reception on a brisk Monday afternoon. A crowd of about 500 welcomed her with a standing ovation after she took the oath of office on the steps of the Salt Lake City-County Building.

Biskupski’s fiancee, Becky Iverson, stood at the new mayor’s side as she was sworn in by Salt Lake County presiding Judge Shauna Graves-Robertson.

Following the ceremony, Biskupski said she’s committed to “building an inclusive and welcoming” Salt Lake City by improving air quality, welcoming businesses, creating opportunity for people from all walks of life, and rooting out crime and homelessness.

“The people of this city are why I ran my first race,” Biskupski said, referencing her unsuccessful bid for Salt Lake City Council in 1997. “And you are why I am standing here today. It is for you that I will work every day to build a city for everyone.”

Jackie Biskupski was sworn into office Monday, becoming Salt Lake City’s 35th mayor.

Biskupski was joined by members of the Salt Lake City Council, including Derek Kitchen and Andrew Johnston, who were also sworn into office for the first time Monday, and Charlie Luke, who begins a second term on the council.

Kitchen and Johnston replace former councilmen Luke Garrott and Kyle LaMalfa. Garrott ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor, while LaMalfa did not seek re-election.

Former Mayor Ralph Becker watched from the crowd of onlookers as the new elected officials were sworn in. Becker served as mayor of Utah’s capital city for eight years before falling less than 1,200 votes short in his bid for a third term.

Click here to read the entire article.

By Katie McKeller, Deseret News, January 4, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY —

Anonymous egg donor, the secret I’m tempted to keep from my kids

I’m keeping a very big secret from my kids, that they have a anonymous egg donor, and my biggest fear is that once they find out, they will want nothing to do with me.

My preschool-age twin boys were born with the help of an anonymous egg donor. I’ve never second-guessed my decision to use IVF via donor eggs as my path to becoming a mother, but as my children get older, I’m more and more afraid of how they will react to learning the truth about their origins.anonymous egg donor

After trying and failing to get pregnant on my own in my late 20s, a preliminary blood test revealed my hormone levels were that of a post-menopausal woman. An internal ultrasound confirmed what a team of reproductive endocrinologists suspected: My ovaries had only four follicles them, and none of them were healthy enough make IVF a viable option. Devastated as I was, I took comfort in the fact that the rest of my reproductive system was perfectly healthy and more than capable of handling a pregnancy. All I needed was some donor eggs.

We looked into adoption, but in the end my husband wanted to share a biological connection to our kids, and I really wanted to experience pregnancy and labor. So after some long talks that lasted until the wee hours of the morning, a hard look at our finances and a bit of research into how much Ramen the human body can actually handle eating before it gives out, we decided to pursue a donor-assisted pregnancy.

Leafing through a binder of headshots and short biographies to choose a woman who will provide half of your children’s DNA is like a very high-stakes episode of The Bachelor. It’s bizarre to listen to your husband discuss other women he finds attractive while you try to balance any jealousy with the idea that your own children could inherit those good looks. In the end, we decided on a beautiful donor who looked nothing like me but whose application indicated she had similar interests and a personality close to my own.

We were lucky, and I became pregnant with twins on my first attempt at IVF. Through some quirk of genetics, neither of my kids inherited the donor’s red hair or hazel eyes. One favors his father’s coloring, and the other has my lighter locks. When we’re out as a family, the comment we receive most often is how we have “his-and-hers twins.”

Because we memorialized my pregnancy with tons of photos and videos, and because on the surface my children look like they could be my own, if I wanted to I could probably never tell the children the truth without them suspecting otherwise.

The idea of doing just that is tempting. Although my infertility story had the happiest of endings, the emotional pain of coming to terms with my diagnosis and undergoing the IVF process still lingers, and there’s a part of me that would love to lock it all away in a box, never to be spoken of. Not telling them would let me forget about that chapter of my life. It would also eliminate the risk of my being rejected by the kids or them feeling I’m somehow not their “real” mother in spite of carrying them and caring for them their whole lives.

But not telling them the truth is selfish. From a practical standpoint, they need to know about the donor’s medical history so they can be aware of any potential family hereditary issues. And it might be a plot line out of a soap opera, but I still want them to know they could have half siblings out in the world before they start exploring love and sex.

Knowing that telling them they were conceived with the help of an anonymous egg donor is the right thing to do doesn’t make it any less terrifying. I love my children completely.

by Anonymous – sheknows.com, January 4, 2016

Click here to read the entire article.  For more information about known v. anonymous egg donors, click here.