Meet One of China’s 1st LGBT Couples to Use Assisted Reproduction

Rui Cai and Cleo Wu recently became mothers to twins, placing them among the LGBT parent minority in China. They are also one of the first couples in China to use assisted reproduction to have children.

Their story is amazing since same-sex marriage is still outlawed in China and only heterosexual couples can use assisted reproduction to have children.

 

Cai and Wu found a sperm donor in a US sperm bank. Cai was inseminated with two of Wu’s eggs and the sperm donor’s sperm in a clinic in Portland, Oregon. After returning to China, the couple had their twins in a private hospital in Beijing.anonymous sperm donors

For many LGBT persons in China, it can be difficult to come out to their parents, much less have a family. Cai and Wu were lucky enough to have their parents accept their sexuality.

Cai told NPR, “They think it’s OK for us to choose this homosexual lifestyle. But we’ve got to have offspring. It’s a compromise or a precondition we must meet for them to accept our lifestyle.”

Though their’s is a happy story of family acceptance, Cai and Wu will face some hurdles in the near future such as obtaining proper documentation for their children, like government ID cards, and registering their twins with a school.

“To have a child is really a personal right, is a human right,” Xu says. “But then you have to have permission from the state. It might be difficult for non-Chinese people to imagine or understand this situation, but this is the reality we face.”

May 25, 2016, TheNextFamily.com

Click here to read the entire story.

Gay Family Values

In 2016 it seems almost archaic to write about gay family values, but the truth is that many in this country still do not understand exactly what they are.

 

First, let’s unpack the term, “family values,” because its modern day origin sheds light on the journey our understanding of the term has made over approximately the last 30 years. Many credit the rise of “family values” with the birth of the religious right.  The religious right stemmed from a failed presidential bid by conservative evangelical Pat Robertson in 1988.  Pat Robertson and Southern Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell maintained one of the most successful movements deriving from a losing campaign, which was the “religious right.”  Family values was the buzzword for any number of anti-gay, anti-women, racially motivated campaigns to keep right wing, mostly Republican politicians in office by driving wedges between the electorate to maintain political control.  With this background, gay family values were absolutely unheard of.Gay dads

Gay family values have a much richer and historic past. Gay people have been having families, raising children and living lives of value since the beginning of recorded history.  The very same qualities espoused to be superior, or correct, by the religious right are the same values that gay parents teach their children and gay children teach their parents.  And it is interesting that these values, when interpreted for political reasons, tend to be based in religion.  This is particularly interesting when you consider that Jerry Falwell’s father was a bootlegger and an agnostic and his grandfather was an atheist, yet he managed to be “valuable.”

While in law school, I did my summer internship at Lambda Legal, the nation’s foremost LGBT impact litigation organization.  I was fortunate enough to work on a case called Lawrence v. Texas.  This landmark gay rights case decriminalized gay sex, which was literally a criminal offence. Prior to its decriminalization, it was used to deny employment, take children from fit parents and serve to marginalize the LGBT community in many states. Lawrence v. Texas was seen by many as the foundation for marriage equality.  Ever since working at Lambda Legal, I knew that I wanted to work with couples and families to protect their interests, and their values.

I have had the privilege of being an attorney for the last 13 years working with gay families, unmarried couples and essentially anyone who falls outside the misnomer, “traditional,” as their family and trusts and estate lawyer. I have seen people go out of their way and spend sometimes unthinkable amounts of money to create the legal protections that most “traditional” couples and families take for granted.  Fighting to ensure the security of your family, in my estimation, is the definition of family value.

While basic estate plans and second or step parent adoptions are certainly critical, and a big part of ensuring the safety of children in these families, that is not the type of gay family values that I’m talking about.  It is the concept of putting your family’s interests above your own.  It is the simple joy of learning from your child about their understanding of the world.  And it is something far more universal than many who have not been exposed to family structures other than their own may not be able to comprehend.  When I meet other families that don’t look like mine, and they meet my family, the spark of possibility is lit for an exchange of information that is critical for value development.

adoption new york,new york adoption,new york state adoption, stepparent adoption process,adopting step children,co parent adoption,2nd parent adoption,second parent adoptions,gay adoption new york,gay couple adoption, gay couples adoptingI count my blessings every day that my son Nicholas, a six and a half year old with the soul of my departed father, is growing up in New York City, where every language is spoken and where every culture is practiced. I am grateful that my daughters have parents who love them and who share with them the possibilities of life that their parents shared with them.  The truth about gay family values is that there is no such thing.  Family values are born from love and respect, not only between family members, but among the different families that exist all over the world.  Those values are exclusive to no particular group.

My son asked my husband and me the other night when we could go to Paris. My first thought was, “when you get a job,” but after reality set in, I started to think what it would really be like to really show him other cultures.  What an absolute honor it would be to share the world with Nicholas and to see it through his eyes.  There really is no better way to understand family values than to see them at work in other families.  So until we get to Paris, you can look for us tooling around the West Village of New York City.  You can’t miss us.  We’ll be the ones with the values!

For more information about creating and protecting your family, contact Anthony M. Brown at Time for Families.

Study Says Women in Lesbian Relationships Feel More Parental Stress

A Williams Institute study from the University of California Los Angeles has found women in lesbian relationships feel more parental stress than straight couples.

Ninety-five lesbian parent households were compared with 95 straight parent households to “compare same-sex and different-sex parent households with stable, continuously coupled parents and their biological offspring.”
The study found that in terms of the children’s emotional difficulties, coping behaviors and learning behaviors, there was no difference between those raised in the different households.
However, lesbian parents did experience higher stress levels.parental stress
“Some of our earlier studies have shown that lesbian mothers feel pressured to justify the quality of their parenting because of their sexual orientation,” psychiatrist and co-author of the research, Dr. Nanette Gartrell said.
In the study, parents from both households were matched for characteristics such as age, urban or rural residence, their children’s age, race and gender and whether the parents or children were born in the United States or elsewhere.
Gartrell focused on lesbian couples because there were smaller numbers of male same-sex couples that fit the criteria. The families studied showed no history of family instability or transitions such as divorce or separation and all parents had been raising their own biological children from 6 to 17 from birth.
“This study is consistent with the literature over the last 30 years, with the overwhelming consensus that kids do better with two parents than one parents, and that there’s very little difference in long-term mental health for kids when their raised by either same-sex or different-sex parents,” psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and editor of Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health, Dr. Jack Drescher said.
It’s estimated that 690,000 same-sex couples live in the United States and 19 percent of them are raising children under 18.

Click here to read the entire article.

by Kelly Morris, TheNextFamily.com – May 24, 2016

Couple Adopts Newborn Baby With Help From Facebook

Brian Wildmo and Brad Mahon have adopted a newborn baby and they’re crediting Facebook with making it happen.

“We never expected this,” Brian told WJRT. “We keep having to pinch ourselves because I feel like we’ve been in a movie.”  And all with the help of Facebook.

The Michigan couple had been fostering for a year when they decided to adopt a baby. To help them get the word out, they created a Facebook page and started networking.

One day, Brian, a nurse, and Brad, an emergency medical technician, posted a link to their page on an online nurses support group they belonged to.

“Somebody saw it and connected us,” Brian said.Facebook, adoption, gay adoption, gay families

But after getting in touch with an expectant mother in Missouri who had an adoption plan, they lost contact with her about a month before her due date.

They figured the relationship was over until one day they got a call that the woman was in labour and had chosen them to be parents of her baby.

Social networking is just so powerful,” Brad explained. “That’s how it happened.”

While Brian headed to Missouri to meet their new daughter, driving 12 hours through the night and being up for 36 hours straight, Brad stayed behind in Michigan so he could reunite their foster child with her birth mother.

Brad eventually arrived in Missouri to meet their daughter, whom they named Kennedy. There a judge signed off on their adoption, making Brian and Brad her legal parents.

The couple credits social media with bringing Kennedy’s birth family and them together. But they also say that patience played a big part in their story.

“Everyone’s really excited,” they said.

One of the mantras that adoption professionals tell waiting parents is to stay active on social media and let everyone know that you’re adopting.

After all, you never know who will come across your profile or, as Brian and Brad’s story has demonstrated, how they’ll find you.

Click here to read the entire article.

AmericaAdopts.com, May 22, 2016

UK’s top family judge declares that UK law should give single parents through surrogacy the same rights as couples

 Sir James Munby, the President of the High Court Family Division, has made a formal declaration that UK law discriminates against single parents with children born through surrogacy and is incompatible with their human rights.

The case concerns a British biological father of a 21 month old boy known as ‘Z’, who was born through a US surrogacy arrangement and lives with his single father in the UK. Last September the High Court ruled that it could not grant our client a UK parental order (the order needed to extinguish the responsibilities of the surrogate and to issue a UK birth certificate for Z), because UK surrogacy law only allows couples, and not single parents, to apply. The court ruled that the US surrogate who carried Z (who lives in the USA, is not his biological mother and has no legal status there) has sole decision-making rights in the UK. Z was made a ward of court, which means the court safeguards his welfare and makes decisions about his care.international second parent adoption, gay parent adoption, Italy, lgbt Italy, glut Italy, gay families, international gay rights

The President of the Family Division has now declared that the law is incompatible with the father’s and the child’s human rights, and discriminates against them. In an unprecedented move, the Secretary of State for Health decided not to oppose the father’s application, conceding that UK law breached human rights legislation and consenting to the court making a declaration of incompatibility. Although only Parliament can change the law, declarations of incompatibility under the Human Rights Act are unusual and carry significant weight: only 20 final declarations have ever been made, and all but one have prompted the law being changed.  However, the government has not yet said whether it plans to push forward reform.

Responding to the judgment, Z’s father said: “I am delighted by today’s ruling which finally confirms that the law is discriminatory against both my family and others in the same situation. I persevered with the legal action because I strongly felt that my son should be in the same legal position as others born through surrogacy. I have a son who I love dearly and as part of this process there was a rigorous court assessment that confirms that I am a good parent. I am now eagerly waiting to hear what the Government will do so my son does not need to indefinitely remain a ward of court.”

Elizabeth Isaacs QC, his barrister, said: “Declarations of incompatibility are rarely made, so this is a very significant decision. Having consented to the declaration, there is no reason why the government should not take swift action to change the law. We hope that the law will be changed to enable a parental order to be granted for Z as soon as possible.”Through our work at NGA and Brilliant Beginnings, we have long felt the impact of surrogacy law’s exclusion of single parents, even though single parents can and do conceive children through surrogacy (just as they build families through adoption and other forms of assisted reproduction). The UK has a proud tradition of taking a progressive approach to assisted reproduction and non-traditional families, and the current surrogacy laws are a glaring anomaly which fail to uphold our most fundamental values of safeguarding children’s welfare. The law needs to change so that Z, and dozens of other children born through surrogacy to single parents, can be rescued from legal limbo.

Click here to read the entire blog post.

May 21, 2016, by Natalie Gamble

Same-Sex Couples and Their Children Speak Out: ‘My Family Is Just as Good as Anyone Else’s’

First comes love, then comes marriage—same sex couples and everyone knows what happens after that.

Children are the expected outcome of matrimony. Now that gay marriages are legal, the kids of their unions are subject to even more scrutiny, on top of the years of criticism from socially conservative groups like Focus on the Family and Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.

But according to a recent study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, the kids are more than just all right; many of them are thriving. While the study focused on the biological children of lesbian households, there’s been tons of research—73 studies, meticulously reviewed by other social scientists—proving that stable same-sex partnerships, just like heterosexual ones, produce physically and emotionally healthy kids. The Root spoke to four same-gender families about the three factors they believe fuel their success.

Family Planning

According to LGBTQ-advocacy organizations like the Family Equality Council, successful gay families are often especially deliberate about planning for children. And many of those families are multiracial, with white parents raising kids of color. Gary Gates, retired research director of the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, a research center focused on sexual orientation and gender-identity law and policy, found that among white long-term couples raising children under age 18, 17 percent of single-sex couples have at least one nonwhite child, compared with 3 percent of different-gendered couples. In fact, single-sex white couples are more than five times more likely than their different-gendered counterparts to be raising nonwhite children.more gay couples are embracing surrogacy

Race mattered not for white-and-Latino couple Eva Smith, 44, and Liz Fuentes, 46, of South Orange, N.J., who are using pseudonyms to protect their African-American children’s privacy. Parenting was an essential part of becoming a family, as was careful planning.

“As a woman, [wanting children] was almost innate for me,” says Smith, who has been with Fuentes for 20 years. “I wanted to be a mom, and there are so many children out there who need loving families—we weren’t concerned with the genetics.”

Ten years ago, the couple began the adoption process of their two black sons, Peter and Adam, both age 10. After completing nearby New York’s rigorous process of workshops designed to prepare parents for adoption, which includes extensive background checks, a home study and home inspection, Smith and Fuentes were matched twice by the state with foster children they eventually adopted. The family have since relocated from the busy streets of Brooklyn, N.Y., to the quieter New Jersey suburbs to give their children the best possible quality of life and access to competitive schools that could address the boys’ developmental delays.

Sometimes a child’s geographic upbringing can be both a help and a hindrance. Growing up in rural Maine, for instance, gave Family Equality Council Co-Interim Executive Director Brent Wright, who is white, a quiet life, but left his desire to be a father “a dream deferred” because he’d never seen any gay families. As his community evolved and changed, so did his prospects for parenthood. He and his husband, Sandis, who have been together for 25 years and live in Andover, Mass., with their two black daughters, went forward with adoption after months of classes and meetings with clergy, mentors with social services experience and people of color.

“[We] had a really good grounding in the importance of cultural respect and understanding what it means to transracially adopt,” says Wright. Their girls, Olivia and Noelle, are 7 and 2 and participate in gymnastics, theater and ballet.

lesbian family law

drawing of a happy couple of lesbians and adopted child

Honest Conversations

Though today’s climate for LGBTQ families is stronger than in years past, parents must prepare themselves and their children for the realities of intolerance and hatred of all kinds. Yvonne and Rebecca Johnson, both 33, are a black lesbian couple raising their sons, Raphael, 12, and George, 14, who are Yvonne’s biological children. They live in Columbus, Ga., where their closest neighbor has a Confederate flag proudly on display. (The family’s names have been changed to prevent personal and professional backlash in their conservative hometown.)

“When the kids were young, we explained to them that people might say or do hurtful things [because of our family],” says Yvonne Johnson.

George, a ninth-grader with a passion for acting, is grateful for the confidence instilled by such conversations.

by Tamika Anderson, May 17, 2016 – TheRoot.com

Click here to read the entire article.

Same-sex unions are not enough, say exiled Italian gay parents

When the Italian parliament this week gave the green light to same-sex couples – becoming the last western European country to do so – the Trevi fountain in Rome was lit up in rainbow colours to celebrate, hailing the move as a major step forward for LGBT rights.

But for Italian families living abroad, the spectre of discrimination against gay couples lives on in restrictive adoption laws which can lead to gay parents having no legal rights over their children by a largely conservative, Catholic and sometimes hostile court system.

Current legislation gives same-sex couples the right to share a surname, draw on their partner’s pension when they die and inherit each other’s assets in the same way as married people.

But it has been fiercely criticised for not providing full equality for gay couples, particularly in terms of adoption rights. While adoption has not been ruled out, family judges will decide on a case-by-case basis.international surrogacy

It means that families who have already adopted abroad will have to go through lengthy court procedures to have their adoption recognised in Italy.

Among them are Giovanni and Marco, two Italian dads living abroad who say they can never return home for fear of the state viewing them as strangers to their adopted children.

“The adoption [of our children] is not recognised by the Italian state, so we could be legally treated as strangers to each other,” they told the Telegraph.

“Whenever we cross the Italian border the parental responsibility over our children falls in a legal grey area. We travel with the contact details of the British Foreign Office and the Adoption Order in case anyone starts questioning ‘why the mother is not travelling with the children?'”

Carolina Girardelli, an Italian lawyer specialising in international adoption, said: “Children [adopted abroad] have no rights as Italian citizens [if their parents are gay].

“You can ask a family judge to recognise your adoption papers but in Italy we have the Church, and a lot of Catholic judges. If one of them is against gay unions, you could lose the case.”

by Mauro Galluzo, May 15, 2016 – telegraph.co.uk

Click here to read the entire article.

Gay Parents Adoption – New Possibilities

Gay parents adoption used to be unheard of.

While certain countries still struggle with the concept of our families being equal to all others, in America, the foundation for gay parents adopting has been set and the legal protections for these families are available and critical to creating security in these family structures.  There are several means by which gay parents adoption can occur. I will review the most common: private adoption, public adoption and second or step parent adoption.

Private Adoption – There are several reasons that parents looking to adopt a child may look into private adoption, sometimes referred to as domestic adoption. The availability of children is higher than most people expect.  In the most recent year for which accurate data exists, there were over 18,000 domestic non-relative adoptions of newborns within the United States. Although the number of people placing their children for adoption has fallen dramatically since the 1970s due to the stigma of single-parenthood thankfully decreasing, there are still many birth parents making the painful but loving choice to look for a family for their biological child.

The adoption of the child can be done in one of two ways. The first is to engage an agency to walk you through the process and to help you with paperwork and the emotional upheaval that such a big life decision will inevitably bring. The benefits to involving an agency are numerous; for example, having your own ‘Adoption Specialist’ who will help you communicate with the various other professionals who need to be involved in the process such as social workers, physicians and lawyers. Financial assistance may be available to help cover legal fees, and agencies often do not charge to process the adoption.

lesbian family law

drawing of a happy couple of lesbians and adopted child

The second is a private arrangement whereby a birth mother and prospective parents arrange the adoption between themselves. They will have to hire lawyers and meet the legal requirements of adoption such as age, ability to care for the child and other important aspects. Parents who want to adopt are able to ‘advertise’ for a birth mother, and mothers who have chosen adoption for their child are able to do the same for an adoptive family.

Public Adoption – Foster children are in the legal custody of a commissioner of a social services district. That district may give responsibility for the care of the child to a voluntary authorized agency. When a child is in foster care, decisions must be made regarding the long-range permanency plan for the child. If the social services district decides that it would not be in the child’s best interests to return home and that the child should be adopted, steps must be taken to legally free the child for adoption.

There are three ways a child can become legally free for gay parents adoption: 1) the birth parents can sign a voluntary surrender agreement; 2) the social services district responsible for the child can bring a case in court asking the judge to terminate the parental rights of the birth parents; or 3) if both birth parents are deceased, or one parent is deceased and there is no other parent whose consent to the adoption is required, the child is automatically free for adoption.  Read more at the NY State Office of Children and Family Services, the source of this information.

Second or Step Parent Adoption – One increasingly popular methods for gay parents adoption is when one parent has a biologically related child of their own and their partner or spouse adopts that child.  If the couple is not married it is referred to as a “second parent adoption” and if they are married, it is referred to as a “step parent adoption.”   For both gay and lesbian couples, securing the legal rights of a non-biological parent is crucial to create the kind of emotional, and legal, security that most other families take for granted. The legality of both parents relationship to their child is often assumed. Parents are parents, regardless of the biological connection to your child.

While recent case law is catching up to our families, it is still lagging in the ability to create complete security without adoption, or a birth order from a competent jurisdiction.  Whichever path you choose to having your family, It is critical to speak with an attorney with experience in the field.  When you consider gay parent adoption, please consider me a resource. For more information on family estate planning, 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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Children’s Books To Help Discuss Gender and Being Different With Your Kids

Some time ago, our blogger Stephen Stratton wrote an excellent article entitled “How to Talk About Gender and Trans People With Your Kids.”

We are republishing Stephen’s list of good children’s books dealing with being different, gender, and trans people. Reading them with your kids could be a great starting point for conversations in your family about these topics.

In Stephen’s words, “When we start to break it down, the easiest way to talk to your children about trans people is just to make space to talk about gender, early and often. The more we as a community normalize openness and honesty around gender and trans experience, the more space we make in the world for families like mine to feel safe, welcome and celebrated.”

I Am Jazz – Jessica Herthel

The story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere

“This is an essential tool for parents and teachers to share with children whether those kids identify as trans or not. I wish I had had a book like this when I was a kid struggling with gender identity questions. I found it deeply moving in its simplicity and honesty.” — Laverne Cox (who plays Sophia in “Orange Is the New Black”)

From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn’t feel like herself in boys’ clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz’s story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.

My Princess Boy – Cheryl Kilodavis

Dyson loves pink, sparkly things. Sometimes he wears dresses. Sometimes he wears jeans. He likes to wear his princess tiara, even when climbing trees. He’s a Princess Boy.

Inspired by the author’s son, and by her own initial struggles to understand, this is a heart-warming book about unconditional love and one remarkable family. It is also a call for tolerance and an end to bullying and judgments. The world is a brighter place when we accept everyone for who they are.

10,000 Dresses – Marcus Ewert

Every night, Bailey dreams about magical dresses: dresses made of crystals and rainbows, dresses made of flowers, dresses made of windows … Unfortunately, when Bailey’s awake, no one wants to hear about these beautiful dreams. Quite the contrary. “You’re a BOY!” Mother and Father tell Bailey. “You shouldn’t be thinking about dresses at all.” Then Bailey meets Laurel, an older girl who is touched and inspired by Bailey’s imagination and courage. In friendship, the two of them begin making dresses together. And Bailey’s dreams come true!

This gorgeous picture book — a modern fairy tale about becoming the person you feel you are inside — will delight people of all ages.

Red: A Crayon’s Story – Michael Hall

A blue crayon mistakenly labeled as “red” suffers an identity crisis in the new picture book by the New York Times-bestselling creator of “My Heart Is Like a Zoo” and “It’s an Orange Aardvark!” Funny, insightful, and colorful, “Red: A Crayon’s Story,” by Michael Hall, is about being true to your inner self and following your own path despite obstacles that may come your way. “Red” will appeal to fans of Lois Ehlers, Eric Carle, and “The Day the Crayons Quit,” and makes a great gift for readers of any age!

Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (let’s draw strawberries!), his mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (go draw a nice orange!), and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can’t be red, no matter how hard he tries! Finally, a brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what readers have known all along. He’s blue! This funny, heartwarming, colorful picture book about finding the courage to be true to your inner self can be read on multiple levels, and it offers something for everyone!

Jacob’s New Dress – Sarah Hoffman

Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be. Some kids at school say he can’t wear “girl” clothes, but Jacob wants to wear a dress to school. Can he convince his parents to let him wear what he wants? This heartwarming story speaks to the unique challenges faced by boys who don’t identify with traditional gender roles.

Meet Polkadot (The Polkadot Series Book 1) – Talcott Broached

Have you been looking for a story with which to begin and/or continue meaningful and accurate conversations about gender identity?

Perhaps you wish to have dialogues that center and normalize transgender identities but you feel worried you may not have accurate information?

Maybe you ARE trans or you have a child/family member who is trans and you are ready for a book that honors transgender experiences rather than sensationalizes transgender lives and bodies?

Meet Polkadot is the first in a series of books that introduces readers to our main character Polkadot, a non-binary, transgender child. This book is an accessible introduction and primer to the the diversity of gender identity, the importance of allyship, and the realness of kids like Polkadot.

Gayswithkids.com – April 25, 2016

Click here to read the entire article.

Adopting in the US has more heartache than you’d imagine

Mike Anderson and his husband, Jeff Binder, endured a difficult adoption of daughter Annika, and missed out on a second child.

Kidz Bop” children’s music producer Mike Anderson, 42, and his husband, TV’s “Damages” and Broadway actor Jeff Binder, 45, longed to start a family, but adopting a child in the US proved to be more difficult than they ever imagined. Here, Mike tells The Post’s Jane Ridley about their epic adoption missions, which resulted in both joy and heartache.

Blowing out the candle on her birthday cupcake last Saturday, our beautiful daughter Annika clapped her hands with delight.

My husband, Jeff, and I could hardly believe it’s been four years since she officially became ours at 2 days old — especially since adopting her was a nerve-racking roller coaster of emotions.

Jeff and I first discussed having kids before we got married in December 2008. For me, part of coming to terms with being gay had been mourning the loss of my chance to have children. When Jeff suggested we do the same as our friends who had adopted or hired surrogates, I came to see how realistic it was. Being dads was an exciting prospect.

But it wasn’t until we’d moved from Inwood to Rhinebeck, NY, that we researched the subject properly, and rejected the idea of surrogacy because of the cost — about $120,000. We started down the adoption route in August 2011. We wanted a newborn, and we thought our chances were better domestically.

For many couples, it takes years to bring a baby home, but for us, it happened pretty fast. We hired Manhattan attorney Suzanne Nichols and were approved by the New York State Adoption Service in February 2012.

Next, we hired an adoption facilitator named Heidi, who helped draft our ad. “Broadway actor and children’s music producer yearn for miracle baby,” it read. It was Hallmark cheesy, but Heidi told us it would appeal to the demographic we were targeting.

We placed the ad in the PennySaver in so-called “adoption-friendly” states like Arizona, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Florida and Wyoming. There, the birth mother has less time to change her mind. In states such as New York, the window is as long as 45 days after giving birth.

Heidi answered all the calls we got on an 800 number and, if she thought they were legit, I did the follow-up. She told us to treat every potential mother as The One, even if you’re juggling more than one at the same time.new york adoption, new york state adoption, adoption New York

They were all hard-luck stories, including an older mom who got pregnant by her friend’s son. Then along came Stephanie*, a 32-year-old mother from Lafayette, La., reaching out on behalf of her daughter, Deana*. The 14-year-old had hidden her pregnancy for seven months after meeting a boy at a party. Most of our dealings were done through Stephanie — we spoke to Deana occasionally but she was quiet and didn’t say much. “We want to give up the baby for adoption,” Stephanie assured us over the phone several times. “Deana just can’t be raising a baby at this point.”

There are strict rules about what you can and can’t pay for when you’re adopting. You can provide the mother with money toward groceries, transportation and housing. But, to be honest, we felt like Stephanie played us a little because she thought we were wealthy.

We ended up buying the family a $4,000 trailer to live in because they were moving to Cocoa, Fla., as well as their monthly land-rent of $900 and a $2,500 truck. Groceries were about $120 a week, and we hired a doula to assist with the birth for about $2,000. Stephanie even called and said, “Deana wants a kitten. Will you buy her one?” Our lawyer advised us not to because it could get us into trouble. In total, the whole adoption process cost us $60,000.

I had a strong feeling that it was all going to fall apart, but we pressed ahead.

Meanwhile, we’d found another birth mom, a 16-year-old from Germantown, Md., who was due three months after Deana. We figured that, if everything worked out, we’d pretty much have the equivalent of twins.

Click here to read the entire article.

May 12, 2016 by Jane Ridley, New York Post