Italian couple win international second parent adoption case

 

Two gay Italian women have won the right to international second parent adoption, a legal first for the country. All previous verdicts in Italy in favour of lesbian women being legally recognized as the parents of their partner’s children are at the appeal stages.

In its judgment on Friday, Rome’s juvenile court said Marilena Grassadonia, president of the Rainbow Families association, could adopt her wife’s twin boys via international second parent adoption. In turn, her partner adopted Grassadonia’s son. All three were conceived by artificial insemination.

In March, a man won his request to adopt his partner’s child, but rights watchers believed the ruling may have slipped through the net due to an administrative error, with the office of the prosecutor in charge of the case failing to file an appeal in time.adoption

Grassadonia was a vocal campaigner in Italy during the heated debate earlier this year over a contested civil unions bill.

The text, adopted by parliament’s upper house after a clause allowing gay couples second parent adoption was removed, will be examined by the lower house from 9 May.

Italy’s prime minister Matteo Renzi has said he will resort to a confidence vote on the government, if necessary, to make the bill law.

While they wait for a change in the law, courts have been finding in favour of gay couples since 2014 on the basis of current legislation that favours “emotional continuity” for children.

The Guardian – April 30, 2016

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The predictable reason why anti-LGBT bills become law

The cavalcade of crazy ginned up by folks fearful of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans was predictable. That far-right conservatives have been wigged out ever since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage last June is not surprising.  Anti-LGBT bills are popping up all over the country.

Nor is the move by states to pass so-called religious freedom laws. Nor is the push to deny transgender people the dignity of using the bathroom that matches their gender identity. LGBT-rights activist and radio host Michelangelo Signorile predicted as much a year ago in his book “It’s Not Over: Getting beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality.”

 

Also, “Nearly all of the states facing anti-LGBT bills / anti-transgender bills have only 1 or no openly LGBT people serving in their state legislatures,” the report notes.

“One of the reasons the LGBT movement has seen such rapid progress is because our allies have really stepped up. But allies aren’t enough. When LGBT people are serving in public office, and especially in state legislatures, they directly change the conversation,” Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of Victory Fund and Institute. told me. “Their visibility and their relationships with their colleagues mean the discussion quickly becomes about a real person with a real family. It’s not just political grandstanding on one side and allies pleading their case on the other. Representation matters. Our voices make a huge difference when we’re in those rooms.”rainbowsilhouetteparents

Knowing this then, the opposite actions recently by Gov. Pat McCrory (R-N.C.) and Gov. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) have a bit more context.

With lightning speed, the North Carolina legislature passed and McCrory signed into law legislation that not only strips the state of antidiscrimination protections for LGBT folks but also requires transmen and transwomen to use bathrooms based on the sex on their birth certificate and not on their gender identity. The Tar Heel State has no openly LGBT members of its legislature.

Meanwhile, down in the Peach State, Deal vetoed a so-called religious freedom bill. “I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia,” he said announcing his decision on March 28. Georgia has three openly LGBT legislators.

by Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post, April 29, 2016

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Compassionate Surrogacy – Options For Your Family

Compassionate surrogacy, sometime referred to as altruistic surrogacy, is the process where a woman, the compassionate surrogate, carries a child of the intended parents with the intention of giving that child to the parents once it is born.

A compassionate surrogate does not receive compensation for her services.  It is a special person who can be a compassionate surrogate.  When is compassionate surrogacy the right choice for your family?  The answers depend upon several factors.

 

  1. Compensated surrogacy is currently illegal in 5 states, including New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Washington and the District of Columbia. While that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t use a surrogate in those states, entering a compensated surrogacy contract could incur criminal penalties depending on your state of residence. Compensated surrogacy means that the surrogate mother receives a fee for undergoing the surrogacy process.
  1. If you want to go through compassionate surrogacy in New York, the surrogate cannot accept compensation outside of statutorily allowed medical and legal costs. The surrogate in these cases is often known by, and close with, the intended parents. It may be a family member as well. You will need a lawyer to determine what costs are and are not allowed to be paid by you, and also to draft a Memorandum of Understanding between the intended parents and the surrogate mother to outline the process and provide for all possibilities that may occur during the process from insemination to birth, and beyond.
  2. A surrogacy, or ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) attorney must have extensive experience in these types of agreements and can help you and your partner or spouse       learn what to expect, average timelines, required paperwork, and even let you know the average costs as well as what is and isn’t legal for you to pay for during the pregnancy.
  3. A compassionate surrogacy attorney can help you manage the relationship with the surrogate and provide dispute resolution that may be needed throughout the surrogacy process, in most cases through the surrogate mother’s separate attorney.
  4. The most critical aspect of compassionate surrogacy is establishing the parental rights of the non-biological intended parent.       Your attorney can help the non-biological parent petition for second or step parent adoption so that both parents have a legal relationship established to the child as soon as possible. Read this article for more information about the second/step parent adoption process.
  5. It’s extremely important to have a lawyer draft any agreement to memorandum of understanding between the intended parents and the surrogate mother. If there is a misstep in the contract, you and your child could potentially go through a lengthy and painful custody battle (not to mention the aforementioned criminal penalties in NY) should the mother change her mind. It would be devastating to lose your child over a technicality in the contract.

gay surrogacy, compassionate surrogacy, altruistic surrogacy, New York surrogacy, gay surrogacy, surrogacy

There is currently legislation in New York State that would legalize compensated surrogacy. The Child Parent Security Act would not only make compensated surrogacy a legal option for NY parents, it would also allow both intended parents to be immediately legally recognized as parents at the birth of the child, thus negating the need for the lengthy process of second or step parent adoption by the non-biological intended parent. The CPSA would further protect the rights of surrogates, making sure they are not legally responsible in any way for a child they never intended to parent. While the LGBT community, as well as opposite-sex couples who may need a surrogate, are hopeful it will pass, the bill has been stuck in committee for many years.

 

If you’re thinking of expanding your family with the help of a compassionate surrogacy, start the process by speaking with an experienced attorney so you can get a solid idea of what to expect, and even if it’s the right decision for your family. As a leading expert in the Family and Estates division of Albert W. Chianese & Associations, Anthony M. Brown is here to help your family with all of its growing legal needs. Call 212-953-6447 or email anthony@timeforfamilies.com to answer any questions you may have concerning compassionate surrogacy or any legal questions concerning same-sex family planning.

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Top Concerns for Gay Men Considering International Surrogacy

International surrogacy poses many questions, and potential obstacles for gay couples.

A gay couple made global headlines last year when their plans for having a baby together went horribly wrong. Manuel Santos and Gordon Alan “Bud” Lake III chose to move forward with a surrogate in Thailand, but after their baby was born, the surrogate refused to sign the final papers, chose to back out of the contract, and eventually decided to fight for custody. International surrogacy was back in the news.

Their case eventually went to court, but was complicated by the fact that the law in Thailand does not recognize same-sex marriages. On top of that, a new law that bans commercial surrogacy went into effect after their baby was born. The odds were stacked against them and the couple had to turn to crowd-funding to help pay for the legal fees and the costs of staying in the country during the battle. Thai surrogate mother

“Our lives have been turned upside down,” the couple explained on Fundly. “Our jobs are in danger, our family is now divided, false allegations and criminal charges have been brought against us. What was supposed to be the happiest time of our lives, bonding with our new baby girl — our daughter and our son’s new little sister – has turned into an absolute nightmare.”

I’ve heard similar stories like this before. I recently published a book titled, Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood: Firsthand Advice, Tips and Stories from Lesbian and Gay Couples, to help LGBT people understand the pros and cons to the various paths to parenthood. The book compares adoption, surrogacy, foster care, assisted reproduction, and co-parenting. One section in the book tells the story of David and Josh, a gay couple who decided to have a baby through international surrogacy but wound up stranded in India for a month after the government refused to grant exit visas for their newborn twins.

David and Josh were eventually allowed to bring their children home to the U.S. I’m also happy to announce that on April 26, Santos and Lake won their court battle in Thailand too, although the couple is still not able to take their child out of the country right away because of the possibility of an appeal by the surrogate mother.

I don’t want to make it sound like surrogacy is bad, or that all people who choose international surrogacy are destined to have horrible experiences, but I do want to raise awareness about the challenges that LGBT people may encounter when choosing to move forward on this path. Here are the top three things you should be aware of when considering international surrogacy.

Possible legal complications – If you are thinking about going to another country for surrogacy, consider the potential emotional and financial cost if you run into complications. Depending on your situation, you may not be able to bring your baby back to the United States or you may have lengthy delays before you can return. International surrogacy is complex and doesn’t have clear protections. Do your research to understand what legal rights the surrogate will have if any, and how the county protects LGBT couples. Consult with a lawyer that specializes in international surrogacy prior to moving forward so that you can be knowledgeable about the situation ahead of time.

Possible breach of contract – Even though all parties sign a contract in the beginning, it is still possible for a surrogate to violate her end of the agreement. There is a risk the birthmother could voluntarily have an abortion without the consent of the intended parents or refuse to have an agreed-upon abortion when recommended by the physician. It is also possible that the surrogate could use drugs, consume alcohol or fail to follow other behavioral restrictions laid out in the contract. In the case of Santos and Lake, the surrogate decided to back out of the contract all together after the baby was born.

by Eric Rosewood, HuffingtonPost.com, April 28, 2016

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Two Moms Talk About Second Parent Adoption

Not all LGBT parents in the U.S. can put both parents’ names on their children’s birth certificate.  Second Parent adoption can help.

And even if they can, many lawyers still advise that gay couples go through a second parent adoption as a means to protect their parental rights to their children.

Brandy and Susan from The Next Family discuss their second parent adoption experience so other LGBT parents can gain some insight.

The moms explain the importance of second parent adoption by providing the example of traveling internationally to countries that don’t recognize same-sex marriage or families. By going through the process, step parent adoptions give both parents the same rights to their children thus protecting them in the U.S., overseas, and even in custody cases.second parent adoption

“And at the end of the day, I think it’s wise to do it,” Brandy said.

Though she does share her displeasure with the entire process that LGBT parents have to go through that straight parents do not:

“We fight so hard for our LGBT rights and we’ve gotten to this point and this place in our country…and [step parent adoptions] sort of takes you back. Like, really?”

Brandy and Susan explain the process that their family went through when it came to their step parent adoption. It involved finding a good lawyer, filling out an adoption application, and speaking with a social worker.

When speaking about the social worker experience, Brandy said, “They were asking us sort of ridiculous, in my opinion, parenting questions.” She also adds that you should prepare yourself for this experience which may be uncomfortable: “I think it was really insulting to me that they were asking her these questions and me these questions and I had had this child and we had together made this decision together to have this child.”

Following the social worker meeting, families will have to go to court to complete the adoption process.

For Susan’s court date, the judge asked her, “Why should I grant you this right to adopt this child?” Susan said she responded quite awkwardly with, “Well, I’m kind of doing a lot of mother things.” She was happy though with how the judge responded, “You’re the mother and that’s why I’m doing it.” Susan said she could tell that the judge thought that the entire process was also a “silly precursor” to establish her parental rights.

Click here to read the entire article.

By Alex Temblador – TheNextFamily.com – April 15, 2016

Gay couple wins custody of their one-year-old daughter from Thai surrogate mother

A same-sex American-Spanish gay couple won a high-profile custody battle Tuesday against a Thai surrogate mother who gave birth to their child but then decided she wanted to keep the baby when she found out they were gay.

Bangkok’s Juvenile and Family Court ruled that the legal guardian of the 15-month-old child, named Carmen, is her American biological father, Gordon Lake, and against the child’s Thai surrogate mother, said Lake’s lawyer Rachapol Sirikulchit.

‘The court has granted legal custody of Carmen Lake to Gordon Lake, my client, and (said) that my client is her only guardian,’ Rachapol said.international surrogacy

Lake and his partner, Spaniard Manuel Santos, both 41, have been stuck in Thailand since launching their legal battle after Carmen was born in January 2015.

Santos emerged from the court smiling and with tears in his eyes.

‘We won,’ he told reporters. ‘We are really happy. … This nightmare is going to end soon.’

‘After 15 months, Carmen will fly to Spain,’ where the couple lives, Santos said.

Rachapol said the couple would not be able to take Carmen out of the country right away pending the possibility of an appeal by the Thai surrogate mother, Patidta Kusolsang. She was not in court and her intentions could not immediately be learned.

Lake and Santos celebrated their legal victory on the ‘Bringcarmenhome’ Facebook page set up to support their custody fight.

‘There is no way to express with words what we are feeling!’ they posted. ‘We are crying, our family is crying, our friends are crying, and we are sure all the Thai people who showed their love for us during this time are crying too.’

‘Today is a huge day for love, for family and for truth. And it is also a big day for LGBT rights,’ said their posting, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights.

The case was seen as complicated by the fact that Thai law does not recognize same-sex marriages and also by a new law that bans commercial surrogacy, which took effect after Carmen’s birth. Rachapol said the court’s ruling was based on a transitory clause in the law allowing the intended parents of any baby born before the law took effect to request to be the legal parents.

Click here to read the entire article.

DailyMail.co.uk by Associated Press – April 26, 2016

Estate Planning Basics for Gay Couples

What are the estate planning basics that all gay couples need to know? This article will give you the information you need to take those first steps toward protecting your family.

Some of the most common errors that gay couples make regarding estate planning basics can be corrected fairly easily. Before we discuss these, it is important to know that over half the American public, regardless of orientation, do not have a Will. The number one reason I hear is, “I don’t have anything so why do I need a Will?” The truth is that most people, when they know what the state requires when someone dies without a Will, realize that they have more than they think and that they want to decide what happens when they die.tips for estate planning
Maximizing non-probate assets – The rule of estate planning basics is to know what assets a Will passes to your desired beneficiary. Wills cover probate assets, or assets held solely in your name. Examples include real property, bank accounts and personal belongings. Personal belongings are key because many people do not like the idea of a distant relative rooting through their most cherished items after death. Wills do not pass non-probate assets, or assets held jointly with someone else, assets held in trust for someone else or any asset that has a designated beneficiary, like an insurance policy, a 401(k) or an IRA retirement plan.
Property ownership – The most valuable asset for many people is a home, condominium or cooperative apartment. If you own that property jointly as a married couple (Tenants by the Entirety) or with someone you are not married to (joint tenants with right of survivorship), then that property will pass directly to the surviving co-owner. If, however, you are not married and own the property with another person and the title to the property simply states both names, without the words, “joint tenants with right of survivorship,” then your half interest in the property must pass through your Will. This form of ownership is called “tenants in common.” One of the most estate planning basics is to verify on your title document exactly how you own that property with another person.
Documents everyone should have – While marriage provides some very important protections for gay couples, it is always advisable to have a comprehensive estate plan to make sure that you have control over you body and your assets. The top 6 document list of estate planning basics include the following:
• Last Will and Testament – A Last Will and Testament allows the drafter of the document to control the distribution of their assets upon death.
• Durable Power of Attorney – This document allows the drafter to authorize another person to make financial decisions for them. It authorizes, among other things, payment of debts, collection of payments, redistribution of assets, withdrawal of assets from a bank account and the sale of property.
• Designation of Guardian for Property Management and/or Personal Needs – If a person were to be judicially declared incompetent or incapable of managing their property or themselves, the court would appoint a guardian for that purpose. The guardian is usually a family member. This document allows the Principal to designate who that guardian would be.
• Living Will – A Living Will states exactly what measures a person wants or does not want if certain critical and specifically outlined medical conditions arise.
• Medical Power of Attorney / Health Care Proxy – This document allows a designated person to have access to medical records and make specified medical decisions for the Principal.
• Priority Visitation Directive – A Priority Visitation Directive specifies who the Principal prefers to have priority visitation privileges, usually over family members. This is particularly important if you are no married.
• Affidavit of Burial or Cremation – This document ensures that a funeral director or funeral home administrator follows the instructions given them by the person designated in the affidavit.
Without estate planning basics – If you are married, now that marriage equality is the law of the land, certain protections are guaranteed. Your assets will pass to a surviving spouse, and you children, in defined percentages according to the state in which you live. Your spouse will be allowed to make medical decisions for you, however, financial decision making requires an executed Durable Power of Attorney. If, however, you want to make sure that specific items go to anyone other than your spouse and/or children, you must have a validly executed Last will and testament.
When you are considering the estate planning basics that all gay couples, and individuals, should have, please consider me a resource. For more information the basics for estate planning for gay couples, contact Anthony M. Brown at Time for Families and speak to a specialist family lawyer to secure your and your family’s future.

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Louisiana surrogacy bill to protect surrogacy arrangements advances, despite opposition from both sides of aisle

Louisiana surrogacy is legal, but right now, there are no protections for either the biological parents or the birth mother. In the eyes of the law, the woman who gives birth to a baby is the mother, so a surrogate could ultimately decide to break an agreement and keep the child, and the biological parents would have no legal recourse.

Similarly, the biological parents could decide midway through a pregnancy they no longer want the child, and the surrogate mother would be legally responsible for the child, another wrinkle in Louisiana surrogacy arrangements.

Loren McIntyre is in the process of adopting her firstborn son.

Born in January, he is 100 percent genetically her and her husband’s offspring, but the couple used a gestational carrier, or surrogate, to give birth. And in Louisiana, legally she is not the mother until the adoption is finalized this June.

gay surrogacy

Pregnant woman belly with rainbow symbol LGBT

McIntyre, who has severe endometriosis, is unable to give birth to her own children. She underwent seven unsuccessful rounds of in vitro fertilization before deciding to seek surrogacy.

McIntyre shared her story on Monday with a legislative House committee in the State Capitol in hopes lawmakers will pass a bill that creates legal safeguards in Louisiana surrogacy, where virtually none exists.

House Bill 1102 sets up a legal framework for surrogate arrangements, which bans compensation to the surrogate mother, sets age requirements, requires medical testing and counseling, and mandates background checks. Importantly, it ensures the surrogate mother cannot make a legal claim to the child, and it forbids the biological parents from being able to back out on the agreement.

An identical version of the bill was passed by the full Legislature last year but was vetoed by Gov. Bobby Jindal. On Monday, the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure advanced the measure without objection. It goes to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

But the measure had ample opposition from both sides of the aisle.

On the left, LGBT groups opposed the language that defines the intended parents as a “man and a woman,” preventing same-sex couples from being able to use surrogacy as an avenue for parenting. The bill also requires that the embryo come from the egg and sperm of the intended parents, which again, precludes same-sex couples.

LSU Law Professor Andrea Carroll testified that while she believes there’s a need for HB1102, she believes that wording would render it unconstitutional, per last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

On the right, conservative anti-abortion groups testified that the act of surrogacy often requires multiple unused embryos that are frozen or discarded.

“Life starts at the embryonic stage,” said Ben Clapper, with Louisiana Right to Life. “It’s a human life that needs to be protected.”

State Rep. Stuart Bishop, the Lafayette Republican who sponsored the bill, stressed that in vitro fertilization and surrogacy already are legal.

April 18, 2016 – TheAdvocate.com by Rebekah Allen

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Lesbian Moms Give Tips on Picking a Donor

Brandy and Susan describe the process of picking a donor and give tips to lesbian moms about known donors vs anonymous as well as things to watch out for.

The Next Family is a diverse community where modern families meet. It is the start of an on-going, open-minded and sincere dialog between urbanite families, adoptive families, in vitro parents, interracial families, same sex parents, lesbian moms, gay dads, single parents and so on. It is a way to remind people that the Next Generation of families already exists in larger numbers than the old model of a “family unit”.

 

Click here for more information on your path to parenthood.

Anonymous Sperm Donors threatened by growth of genetic testing

The rise of personal genetic testing and growth of international DNA databases could put an end to anonymous sperm donors and anonymous egg donation as donor-conceived individuals may unintentionally discover biological relatives, according to UCL researchers.

 

The paper, published today in the journal Human Reproduction, reinforces the need for parents using  anonymous sperm donors and anonymous egg donors to be fully informed that their children’s DNA will identify that they are not the and that they should be encouraged to disclose their use of . Anonymous sperm donors should also be informed that their anonymity is not guaranteed, irrespective of whether they are donating in a country that practises anonymous donation or not.

Over 3 million people have already used direct-to-consumer genetic testing, often via online companies without the input of healthcare professionals, to find out information about their ancestry and health and many are participating in international genetic genealogy databases that will match them with relatives.Surrogacy Abroad

Professor Joyce Harper (UCL Institute of Women’s Health) explained: “DNA tests are increasingly being used to solve unknown parentage cases for adoptees and donor-conceived persons. People are finding half-siblings and even biological parents in online databases that are open to the public. A sperm donor does not have to be in the database to be identified as identification can be made from matches with other close relatives such as second or third cousins.”

Using these genetic databases, donor-conceived adults who have not been informed of their status may find out that they are donor-conceived, which may lead to traumatic breakdown of trust with parents.”

Recently, there has been a concerted effort within the scientific community and more widely to foster greater openness about genomic data. These developments indicate that many more healthcare clients are going to know information about their genomes in the future. The situation is further complicated by the fact that different countries, even with the EU, have different laws surrounding gamete donation, donor anonymity and parental disclosure.

by Rowan Walker, MedicalExpress.com, April 14, 2106

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