New York state court rules non-biological, non-adoptive parents can seek custody, visitation if couple breaks up

ALBANY — In a major ruling for same-sex and other non-traditional couples, the state’s top court Tuesday ruled that non-biological or adoptive parents can seek visitation and custody if a couple breaks up.

Until now, the courts have held that non-biological and non-adoptive parents have no legal standing when it comes to parenting.

But the Court of Appeals changed that in a landmark ruling on Tuesday morning, overturning its own 1991 decision known as Alison D. v. Virginia M. that restricted the definition of a parent to someone with biological or adoptive connections.

lesbian family law

In the new decision, the court noted the 1991 ruling came 20 years before New York allowed gay couples to wed.

“We agree that, in light of more recently delineated legal principles, the definition of ‘parent’ established by this Court 25 years ago in Alison D. has become unworkable when applied to increasingly varied familial relationships,” Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam wrote in the decision.

“Accordingly, today, we overrule Alison D. and hold that where a partner shows by clear and convincing evidence that the parties agreed to conceive a child and to raise the child together, the non-biological, non-adoptive partner has standing to seek visitation and custody.”

While acknowledging it’s rare for the court to change one of its previous decisions, the judges found that the 1991 Court of Appeals ruling limiting the legal definition of parents to those with a biological or adoptive relationship “has inflicted disproportionate hardship on the growing number of nontraditional families across our State.”

The decision does not guarantee that someone with no biological or adoptive link to a child can win visitation. That ultimately will be decided on a case-by-case basis by the courts based on what is determined to be in the best interest of the child.

by Kenneth Lovett, New York Daily News, August 30, 2016

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Finding a Surrogate Mother – And Your Future

Finding a surrogate mother is the first step for couples who want to have a biologically related family through surrogacy.

Finding a surrogate mother is also one of the most profound journeys that a couple can embark upon. Before we look at the specifics of who makes a good surrogate mother and what red flags to look for, we need to understand the processes that require finding a surrogate mother.New York surrogacy

What is surrogacy? – There are essentially two types of surrogacy, traditional and gestational, and two ways to go about it, independent surrogacy and agency surrogacy.  Traditional surrogacy is when the woman who provides the egg is also the surrogate mother.  She has a biological relationship to the child she is bearing for the intended parents (IPs – the people who will be the legal parents of the child born through surrogacy).  Gestational surrogacy involves a separate egg donor who provides the egg through a clinic to the gestational surrogate mother.  The egg is implanted via in vitro fertilization and the surrogate mother does not have a biological relationship with the child she is bearing.

Independent surrogacy requires the intended parents to coordinate all aspects of the surrogacy journey. These aspects include:

  • Finding a surrogate mother and providing for compensation and expenses
  • Finding an egg donor
  • Locating and paying the bills of the clinic that will perform the IVF
  • Locating and paying for attorneys to:
    • Draft donor and surrogate agreements
    • Represent the egg donor, if necessary
    • Represent the surrogate mother
    • Establish parentage for the IPS
  • Providing support to all parties, psychological, emotional and financial

With agency surrogacy, the surrogacy agency, full-service or otherwise, takes on some or all of the tasks listed above. The fees for agency surrogacy are increased due to this extra work; however, some people prefer to have the work handled by professionals with experience in this ever changing area of law.

What to look for in a surrogate mother – Finding a surrogate mother that is right for your family is crucial to a successful and happy pregnancy and birth experience.  Most agencies will only consider candidates for surrogate motherhood who are married and have already had at least one child.  This should be your baseline as well if you are attempting independent surrogacy.  Married surrogates with their own children are preferred because they have a built in support system for the pregnancy and they have had the experience of giving birth.  You do not want your surrogate to have her first birth experience with a child that she will not be raising.

Other questions to ask when finding a surrogate mother are:

  • Why do you want to be a surrogate mother?
  • Do you know anyone who is, or has been, a surrogate mother?
  • How do you feel about being compensated?
  • Do you have a support system in place, i.e. are you comfortable sharing with your friends and family that you are being a surrogate mother?
  • How will you explain the child born through surrogacy to your children?

There is no “right” or “wrong” answer to these questions. They are designed to spark conversations that will allow you as the IPs to get a feel for the surrogate mother’s motivations and capability to carry someone else’s child. It will also give her an insight into who you, as IPs, are and if she wants to work with you. This unique relationship is a two-way street and it is critical to remember that your surrogate mother is not your employee, she is helping you have a family.

Pay attention to red flags – If any of the answers you get to the questions above cause you concern, please pay attention to that.  If you sense that financial gain is the only motivator for your surrogate mother, she probably is not the right person to carry your child.  If she has no support system to help her through the process, she would probably not be the best choice.

Finding a surrogate mother is one of the most important tasks that IPs face on their journey toward family. I strongly suggest taking a look at the Men Having Babies  Framework for Ethical Surrogacy for Intended Parents.  It was created with the input of seasoned surrogate mothers, to give IPs their own list of best practices to ensure that they, and their surrogate mother, are prepared for the journey ahead.  If you have any questions about this, or anything else surrogacy related, please contact me at Anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

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India proposes to ban commercial surrogacy

Proposed bill to prohibit homosexuals, unmarried couples and foreigners from hiring Indian women to have a baby.

India’s government has unveiled a draft law to ban commercial surrogacy, a move that would block homosexuals, single parents, live-in partners and foreign couples from hiring Indian women to have a baby.

Sushma Swaraj, India’s foreign minister, said on Wednesday the new law would prohibit prospective gay parents as homosexuality went against the country’s values.

gay surrogacy

“We do not recognise live-in and homosexual relationships … this is against our ethos,” the Indian Express newspaper quoted Swaraj, a member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, as saying.

In 2013, India’s Supreme Court reversed a 2009 high court decision to decriminalise homosexuality. According to Article 377 of the Indian penal code, homosexuality is a crime, which can attract punishment up to 10 years in prison.

Swaraj also said that foreigners, including non-resident Indians (NRIs) and persons of Indian origin (PIOs) were barred from opting for surrogacy as “divorces are very common in foreign countries”.

Only infertile couples who have been married for at least five years could seek a surrogate, who must be a close relative.

“There will be a complete ban on commercial surrogacy,” Swaraj said.

“Childless couples, who are medically unfit to have children, can take help from a close relative, in what is an altruistic surrogacy.”

She said the ban would be introduced 10 months after the bill, which will now go to parliament for approval, to allow pregnant women already in arrangements with couples time to give birth.

Some 2,000 infertile couples hire the wombs of Indian women to carry their embryos through to birth every year, according to the government.

Divided opinions surfaced on Indian social media, with tweets criticising as well as backing the proposed bill.

Aljazeera.com, August 25, 2016

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Triplets With DNA From Both Same-Sex Parents Born In South Africa

I can only imagine how it feels to become a parent for the first time. The words thrilling, exciting, nerve-racking, and love, all immediately come to mind.

I’m sure that’s close to what South African dads Christo and Theo Menelaou felt – perhaps multiplied three times over – when they brought home their adorable triplet babies for the first time. Of course, triplets and newborns alone are enough to prompt a flurry of excitement. But there’s another reason Christo and Theo had to be especially excited: the couple’s triplets carried DNA from both of their same-sex parents — the first ever multiples with DNA from three parents. Human Sperm Cell

Of course, the couple went through a long journey to become parents. In an interview with Sky News, Christo Menlaou shared some of the couple’s previous experiences in pursuing adoption:

When you are gay, there is always the thought that it just may not be possible to be a parent no matter how much you would love to be. It’s very hard to be accepted for adoption and we were told we would always come after heterosexual couples. And then we just never thought we’d ever find a person who would want to be surrogate to a gay couple.
The Menalaous have two girls, Zoe and Kate, and a boy, Joshua, by a surrogate. Both dads reportedly used their sperm to fertilize one embryo each, and 10 weeks into the pregnancy revealed that one embryo had split – resulting in triplets, two of which are identical (Zoe and Kate) according to the Sky News interview with the dads. The triplets share both fathers’ DNA, the Associated Press reported.

The babies were delivered, prematurely, in July. And the adorable triplets are now home with their dads, after weeks of being monitored in the hospital, Sky News reported. The babies reportedly needed breathing assistance, and are still receiving care from nurses at home.

The gynecologist who delivered the triplets said the babies, born by surrogate with a split embryo resulting in triplets, was an “extremely rare” situation. “It is extremely rare,” Dr Heidra Dahms told Sky News. “I have never heard of this before.”

by Kimberly Richards, Romper.com – August 22, 2016

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Considering Known Sperm Donors

Lesbian couples are choosing known sperm donors in increasing numbers for a variety of very important reasons. Your choice now can make a big difference in your child’s life.

Known sperm donors are a much more viable option for lesbian couples today than they have ever been.  What greater decision can there be than the biological parent of your child? Choosing an anonymous sperm donor used to be the norm.  There are many reasons why known sperm donors are becoming the preference for lesbian couples and this article explores some of the most important ones.

One of the most cited reasons for choosing known sperm donors is to have a greater insight into the biology of your child. Having a known sperm donor’s medical history can be critical for mothers who have medical or genetic issues that they must consider before having a child.  An anonymous sperm donor file will provide some medical information, but a known donor can share his family medical history, which may be crucial for the health of your child.remarkable parenting

While medical considerations are one of the top reasons for having a known donor, knowing the emotional and social character of the donor is also an often overlooked consideration in many people’s path to parenthood.  No anonymous donor profile can show the complete picture of the person who may be the biological father of your child.

Legal considerations are also important reasons to choose between anonymous donors and known sperm donors. Anonymous donors surrender their parental rights to any children born with their genetic material upon deposit to a sperm bank or fertility clinic.  When you choose an anonymous donor, they may offer the option of allowing the child to contact them at age 18, but there is no question as to their lack of parental rights to that child.

Known sperm donors in many states, New York included, must surrender their parental rights to a child born with their genetic material after the birth of that child.  And if the mother is a single parent by choice, the known donor in many states may not surrender their parental rights at all.

In New York, as in most states, the best interest of a child is considered when allowing a genetic parent surrender their parental rights. If a known donor is surrendering his parental rights to the spouse or partner of the mother, then the court will authorize that surrender.  If, however, there is no other parent who will be assuming parental rights, the known donor cannot surrender their parental rights and will be able to sue for custody and visitation.  The mother will also be able to sue that known donor for child support.  This is the most important reason why single mothers by choice should use an anonymous donor.

One reason why lesbian moms are choosing known sperm donors is for the emotional health of their children later in life. Many studies show that the more a child knows about their biological background, be they adopted, a child through surrogacy or through known or anonymous sperm donation, the better adjusted they are as adults.  These same studies also show high satisfaction levels in the mothers who have chosen known sperm donors.

One other consideration in choosing a known sperm donor is where they live. If you envision a known donor as a parental figure in your child’s life with a more active role, the donor must be geographically able to fill that role.

Finally, many mothers choose between known and anonymous donors because of the degree of control they wish to have over their family formation. Choosing a known donor can be tricky and many mothers prefer to maintain the kind of parental control over their family that can only be experienced with an anonymous donor.

Whether you are considering known sperm donors to help you create your family or whether anonymous donors are right for you, the most important part of this decision is that you and your spouse or partner are comfortable with it and on the same page. For more information about known sperm donation and the legalities surrounding our families, contact Anthony@timeforfamilies.com or visit www.timeforfamilies.com today.

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New Study Shows No Differences in Family Relationships or Child Health Outcomes between Same-sex and Different-sex Parent Households

New Study Shows No Differences in Family Relationships or Child Health Outcomes between Same-sex and Different-sex Parent Households

LOS ANGELES — Households with same-sex parents show no differences from those with different-sex parents with regard to spouse or partner relationships, parent-child relationships, or children’s general health, emotional difficulties, coping and learning behavior, according to a new report by researchers affiliated with the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, the University of Amsterdam and Columbia University.

“This study is the first to use a nationally representative survey to compare the two types of households by focusing only on those with parents that have been in a continuous relationship,” said lead author Henny Bos, Ph.D.gay parents adoption

The study, titled “Same-sex and Different-sex Parent Households and Child Health Outcomes: Findings from the National Survey of Children’s Health,” compared family relationships, parenting stress and child outcomes in households with female same-sex parents versus different-sex parents.

Ninety-five same-sex parent households were matched to 95 different-sex parent households on eight demographic characteristics – parental age, education, U.S. birth status, and current geographic location, and the studied child’s age, gender, race/ethnicity, and U.S. birth status.

Although the study found no differences in family relationships and child outcomes, same-sex parents reported more parenting stress.

“Future investigations might explore whether the cultural spotlight on child outcomes in same-sex parent families is associated with increased parenting stress,” said psychiatrist and co-author Nanette Gartrell, MD, Visiting Scholar at the Williams Institute. “Some of our earlier studies have shown that lesbian mothers feel pressured to justify the quality of their parenting because of their sexual orientation.”

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Nanette Gartrell, MD – The Williams Institute

Zika found to remain in sperm for record six months

The Zika virus has been found in the sperm of an Italian man six months after his first symptoms, twice as long as in previously reported cases.

Doctors at the Spallanzani Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome said it pointed to the possibility that the Zika virus was reproducing itself in the male genital tract.

The infection is suspected of leading to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

Zika is spread by mosquitos.adopting a child, how to adopt a child, adopt a child,Egg donors

The outbreak was declared a global public health emergency by the World Health Organisation in February.

Current guidelines recommend infected patients should use condoms or abstain from sex for at least six months after the onset of symptoms.

The doctors said in light of this new evidence an extension of this recommendation might be advised, as well as the continued testing of semen after six months.

Christian Lindmeier from the WHO told the BBC the report would be looked at.

“The Zika outbreak is a constantly evolving situation and every new piece of evidence is looked into and evaluated as to whether or not guidelines will need to be revised.”

The patient, who was in his early 40s, first presented symptoms after returning to Italy after a two-week visit to Haiti in January.

The patient reported he had received mosquito bites in Haiti, and his symptoms included fever, fatigue and a skin rash.

Follow-up testing showed the Zika virus was still present in his urine, saliva and sperm, 91 days after the onset of symptoms.

After 134 days it was only detectable in his sperm and this remained positive after 181 days.

BBC.com, August 12, 2016

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Pastors Sue Illinois Over Gay Conversion Therapy Ban

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A group of pastors is suing Illinois over a law that bars therapists from trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation.conversion therapy

The lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court seeks to exclude clergy from the ban that took effect Jan. 1. The lawsuit contends the prohibition shouldn’t apply to clergy because it violates free speech and religious rights.

Illinois is among five states with bans on so-called gay conversion therapy for youth under 18. Laws in California and New Jersey have withstood legal challenges, but an attorney for the pastors says the prohibitions in those states did not include clergy.

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New York Times August 11, 2016

Gay and Lesbian High School Students Report ‘Heartbreaking’ Levels of Violence

The first nationwide study to ask high school students about their sexuality found that gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers are at far greater risk for depression, bullying and many types of violence than their straight peers.

“I found the numbers heartbreaking,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, a senior official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes a division that administered the survey.gay hate

The survey documents what smaller studies have suggested for years, but it is significant because it is the first time the federal government’s biannual Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the gold-standard of adolescent health data collection, looked at sexual identity. The survey found that about 8 percent of the high school population describe themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, which would be 1.3 million students

These children were three times more likely than straight students to have been raped. They skipped school far more often because they did not feel safe: at least a third had been bullied on school property. And they were twice as likely as heterosexual students to have been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property

More than 40 percent of these students reported they had seriously considered suicide, and 29 percent had made attempts in the year before they took the survey. The percentage of those who use various illegal drugs was many times greater than heterosexual peers. While 1.3 percent of straight students said they had used heroin, for example, 6 percent of the gay, lesbian and bisexual students reported having done so.

New York Times, August 11,2016 By Jan Hoffman

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Lesbian Couple Sue Over New Jersey Rules for Fertility Treatment

Five years ago, Erin and Marianne Krupa chose to start a family. They moved to Montclair, N.J., from a more conservative environment in North Carolina, and decided that Erin would carry their first child.

Erin Krupa remembered her fertility doctor looking her in the eye and promising to help her become pregnant.

But there were complications. At an appointment with her doctor in 2013, Ms. Krupa, then 33, learned that she had benign cysts on her uterus and Stage 3 endometriosis, in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside. That meant she was infertile.Donor

Despite her doctor’s assurances that insurance would pay for fertility treatment, Ms. Krupa’s provider, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, denied coverage. The company cited a state insurance mandate from 2001 that required most women under 35 — no matter their sexual orientation — to demonstrate their infertility through “two years of unprotected sexual intercourse.”

Now the Krupas, along with two other women, are suing the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, claiming the mandate discriminates against their sexual orientation — essentially forcing infertile homosexual women to pay for costly procedures to try to become pregnant.

“These women are already going through what can be a difficult experience, and they have the added stress of affording it financially and the added insult of being treated like a second-class citizen,” said Grace Cretcher, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

The state mandate requires most major insurance companies to cover medically necessary treatments for infertile clients. It defines infertility as the inability to impregnate another person, the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth or the inability to conceive after one or two years of unprotected sex, depending on the woman’s age.

New York Times, August 8, 2016 by Megan Jula

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