Working with LGBT couples and families – Nicholas has two dads

This series of videos tell my and my husband’s story of how we came to the decision to be parents and how it changes our lives with a magical New York story.  I do believe in miracles.

Columbia Teachers College has created a series of videos for students who want to work with the LGBT community. I am privileged to have been featured as a mentor and to be able to tell my story. This video discusses my dedication to my family and why Nicholas has two dads.

timeforfamilies.com

Working with non profits and how it changed my life – The Wedding Party and Men Having Babies

Columbia Teachers College has created a series of videos for students who want to work with the LGBT community. I am privileged to have been featured as a mentor and to be able to tell my story. This video discusses my dedication to non-profit work and how it has tracked my own personal life.

These series of videos tell my story and why giving back to my community makes me a better lawyer and a better citizen.  I hope that you enjoy this series as much as I have enjoyed living it.

Property Columbia teacher’s College and rights were granted to TimeForFamilies.com to post these for your viewing.

 

Same Sex Parents Still Face Legal Complications

At gay pride marches around the country this month, there will be celebrations of marriage, a national right that, at just two years old, feels freshly exuberant to many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

But while questions of marriage are largely settled, same sex parents still face a patchwork of laws around the country that define who is and who can be a parent. This introduces a rash of complications about where L.G.B.T.Q. couples may want to live and how they form their families, an array of uncertainties straight couples do not have to think about.

“There are very different laws from state to state in terms of how parents are protected, especially if they’re unmarried,” said Cathy Sakimura, deputy director and family law director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “You can be completely respected and protected as a family in one state and be a complete legal stranger to your children in another. To know that you could drive into another state and not be considered a parent anymore, that’s a pretty terrifying situation.”gay parents adoption

Adoption laws, for example, can be extremely contradictory. In some states, like Maryland and Massachusetts, adoption agencies are expressly prohibited from discriminating based on sexual orientation. At the same time, other states, like South Dakota, have laws that create religious exemptions for adoption providers, allowing agencies to refuse to place children in circumstances that violate the groups’ religious beliefs.

Alan Solano, a state senator in South Dakota, sponsored his state’s adoption legislation. He said he was concerned that if those groups were forced to let certain families adopt, they might get out of the adoption business entirely, shrinking the number of placement agencies in the state.

“I wanted to ensure that we have the greatest number of providers that are working on placing children,” Mr. Solano said. “I’m not coming out and saying that somebody in the L.G.B.T. community should not be eligible for getting a child placed with them. What I hope is that we have organizations out there that are ready and willing to assist them in doing these adoptions.”

But as a practical matter, lawyers who specialize in L.G.B.T.Q. family law say that in some areas, religiously affiliated adoption organizations are the only ones within a reasonable distance. Moreover, they say, such laws harm children who need homes by narrowing the pool of people who can adopt them, and they are discriminatory.

“There is a very serious hurt caused when you’re told, ‘No, we don’t serve your kind here,’ and I think that gets lost in the public discourse a lot,” said Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal. “There’s just this narrative that absolutely ignores, and almost dehumanizes, L.G.B.T. people. They’re missing from the equation here.”

There are a number of laws that can affect L.G.B.T.Q. families, from restrictions on surrogacy to custody, and the landscape is constantly shifting.

by Elizabeth A. Harris, New York Times – June 20, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

Two dads, two babies and a $150,000 journey

Some gifts inspire short-lived exultation, others polite nods. 

Then there are the gifts that take your breath away, rewarding years of self-doubt, financial hardship and agonizing choices. They help you realize that you, like your squirming preemies wrapped in tubes, are not fragile but a fighter.

For Jeffrey and Brian Bernstein, a gay married couple living in a sleepy Philadelphia suburb, the gift of life was not a happy accident.

Growing their family required foresight, patience, herculean coordination with egg donors, surrogate brokers, fertility specialists and lawyers, along with a $150,000 nest egg.surrogacy

One day, when the Berstein twins inevitably ask about their mother, they will hear about the 24-year-old, raven-haired outdoor enthusiast who pumped herself full of hormones and provided her eggs anonymously. Then they will learn about the 31-year-old stay-at-home mom with the blonde bob, “Aunt Ashly,” who also injected hormones, lent her uterus and underwent a C-section seven weeks early.

Both women live in Texas, where surrogacy laws are considered progressive. Neither wants to be called “mom.”

“It’s important that we bring our children up with the understanding that their family, while they may be different, is just as valid, loving and caring,” explains Jeffrey, a fitness coach. 

“There’s nothing shameful in how our family came together.”

STORY: A child’s journey to ‘truegender’

Surrogacy dates to Biblical times when Abraham’s barren wife, Sarah, loaned her handmaid, Hagar, to her husband to procreate.

In recent decades, the practice of a woman carrying the biological child of another individual or couple for payment has raised thorny questions from feminists and religious conservatives alike about the exploitation of women and commodification of children.

Today, most countries around the world, including developing nations, ban commercial surrogacy. But the practice is still legal in the U.S., which has emerged as an in vitro fertilization hub for prospective parents at home and abroad. In nearly every state, surrogacy operates legally or underground. 

by Margie Fishman, The News Journal, June 16, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

MY KIDS MAY NOT HAVE A DAD, BUT PLEASE DON’T FEEL SORRY FOR THEM ON FATHER’S DAY

“Who pretended to be Eva’s dad today?”

This question was asked by my 6-year-old daughter’s best friend. While few things shock me these days, I was taken back by his question. Eva’s best friend is also 6 and has known her and our two-mom family for almost as long as he has been alive.

“Eva doesn’t have a dad. She has two moms. You know that.” Before I could process why he asked his question, I answered him a bit too bluntly. He wasn’t attacking me, but I felt under attack — and my initial response was not one that helped him process what he wanted to understand.

“I know,” he said. “But who came to school for Dads and Donuts?”Florist

Father’s Day. I forgot that, much like for Mother’s Day, the schoolkids would be creating artwork and poems to send home. I forgot that some classrooms would be hosting breakfast for dads, roasting and honoring them at the same time. I forgot because I haven’t talked to my own father in nearly 20 years and Father’s Day is not on my radar. I forgot because I am up to my ears in end-of-the-school-year events and summer camp prep. I forgot because my kids don’t celebrate Father’s Day.

Shortly before our daughter turned 3, we began to talk to her about how she was created through love, her mama’s egg, and a sperm donor. She, and our 4-year-old twins, will proudly and correctly tell you they came from an egg and sperm. We don’t get into the logistics of how those two things met (doctor-assisted intrauterine insemination using frozen sperm for those of you who are curious). But we openly and honestly talk about how our family was made. Our kids will also tell you about their brother and sisters who live in another state; they are donor siblings who were born from the same anonymous sperm and whose parents we met through the cryobank’s sibling registry.

We know our kids feel loved, and that they are as proud of their family as any other children who are more focused on their own needs and wants than on the reflection of sacrifices made by their loving parents. Yet, as much as our kids are like any other kids, their normal is not “normal.” At least, not to some people. And when our kids meet new friends who are unaware that they have two moms, or when Father’s Day rolls around each year, they are not just reminded that they don’t have a dad — but that society expects them to have one.

Once I realized the motivation behind my daughter’s friend’s question, I softened. “Ah! Your dad came to school for Father’s Day donuts. Eva’s class didn’t host a breakfast. But she may have made something for her Pop-Pop.”

We have always told our kids’ teachers that when Father’s Day projects are being made that it’s okay to acknowledge that they will not be making one for a father of their own. They can make one for my partner’s father, their amazing Pop-Pop. Or they can make one for any one of a number of amazing friends and dads who are in our life. Just because they don’t have a father doesn’t mean we don’t have good men in our lives and great dads to celebrate.

by Amber Leventry, babble.com

Click here to read the entire article.

Tips for same-sex adoptions – Information to Help You on Your Journey

Key considerations for same-sex adoptions

✔ Get your financial and personal records in order, as your net worth and tax returns may need to be reviewed.

✔ Consult a family law attorney to help navigate the path to adoption.

✔ Keep your retirement savings strategy on track as you prepare financially for the adoption.

When the phone call came in mid-January, Christopher Wilson-Byrne, 33, and his spouse, Norman Flynn, 43, were overjoyed and, admittedly, a little stunned.

The caller was from the adoption agency they had been working with for the past five months. She excitedly told the couple the time had come to fly to Kentucky to meet their new baby, Katie, and bring her home.gay parents adoption

What was surprising is that the couple’s application to be considered as adoptive parents had been green-lighted only five days earlier. “It was surreal,” says Wilson-Byrne.” We thought we probably had a year or more to go before there would be a match and a birth parent would pick us.”

In truth, the couple, who refer to themselves as the Flynn family and live in Wellesley, Mass., had their hearts set on becoming parents for some time and had been planning for it. When they married three years ago, they both agreed that they wanted to have children, either through adoption or surrogacy. For Wilson-Byrne, a director at Fidelity Investments, being a parent one day had been on his radar for years. “I had a great childhood growing up with three siblings and always assumed I would have kids. But when you’re gay, you realize your family formation will not be the way other families get formed,” he says.

Like the Flynns, LGBT couples are more likely than heterosexual couples to use adoption or surrogacy as a method for family formation. The percentage of same-sex parents with adopted children has risen sharply in the past decade, according to research from the Williams InstituteOpens in a new window. at the University of California, Los Angeles. The think tank is dedicated to conducting independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy.

Today, same-sex couples are about four times more likely to raise adopted children than heterosexual couples, the Institute’s research has found. Moreover, as of 2016, same-sex adoption is legal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, so the process is far easier than it was before gay marriage was legalized in all states.

“Now that gay couples are allowed to marry, they are treated like any other married couple who’s adopting,” says Michele Zavos, managing partner and founder of Zavos Juncker Law Group in Silver Spring, Md., a firm that specializes in family law for the LGBT community. “If they’re married, there is really no difference in the adoption process for same-sex and opposite-sex couples.”

That’s good news. If you’re contemplating adoption or surrogacy, here are eight important steps to consider.

1. Make a future adoption an integral part of your financial plan.

“I knew if I wanted to adopt children one day, it was going to be a large out-of-pocket expense,” Wilson-Byrne says. “I realized that I would need to have enough money saved up to be able to pay for it when the time came. I had been saving for years for the possibility.”

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, an adoption can cost in excess of $40,000 , depending on the type of adoption pursued. Possible adoptions include adoptions through foster care systems, surrogacy arrangements, private agency adoptions, independent direct placement adoptions, and international adoptions.

2nd parent adoption, second parent adoption, second parent adoptions, second parent adoption new yorkIn lesbian couples, frequently, one partner gives birth to a child born by using one partner’s egg and donor sperm. Donor insemination costs can range anywhere from $300 to $4,000, depending on whether anonymous donor sperm is used. Gay men can do essentially the same thing by using a surrogate to carry a child born from one partner’s sperm and a donor egg. Surrogacy rates can easily top $100,000, says Zavos.

The challenge for many couples is figuring out how to save enough money for this sizeable one-time expenditure without abandoning saving for retirement. For the Flynns, the up-front cost was $6,000 for the application process to determine whether the two men were viable candidates for adoption. After their daughter was born and the match made, a placement fee of $38,000 was paid to the agency.

“I wish I had guidance from the time I started working,” says Wilson-Byrne. “I could have worked with a financial adviser who could have said, ‘You are a gay guy who is 25 and working, this is how much money you make, and you should be setting aside x amount for retirement and x amount for a family.’”

Lucky for him, he was a saver by nature. “I was good about saving as aggressively as possible,” he says. “I made sure I lived below my means and was really diligent about saving a good chunk of my salary. I have never, for example, spent a bonus. In the back of my head, I knew there was always going to be this expense that I needed to save for.”

The drawback: Although, he was saving, by his own account, he didn’t save for retirement very well during that time. “I didn’t know how much I should set aside in my 401(k) or IRA versus how much I would need for the adoption process. Ultimately, I had oversaved in my cash accounts but undersaved in my retirement accounts.”

2. Choose a form of adoption.

The Flynns worked with a licensed private agency for their adoption. Private adoption agencies are funded with cash paid by adopting families for their services, which can range from screening applicants, home studies by a caseworker, background checks, matching children and adoptive parents, and legal counsel. Children are frequently newborns but could be of any age up to 17 years. In a private agency adoption, birth parents relinquish their parental rights to an agency, and adoptive parents work with an agency to adopt.

Another option is an independent adoption: Expectant parents (or a pregnant woman) are identified without an agency’s help, and in some instances by an attorney who specializes in adoption. He or she may identify expectant parents who are seeking an adoptive family.

A third option is a public adoption agency. These agencies get their funding from local, state, and federal sources. They typically have a foster care and an adoption component. Children usually enter the system either by a parent surrendering the child to the local child welfare system or a local court terminating a parent’s rights because of abuse or neglect. Children may range from newborn to 17 years of age.

Finally, there are international adoptions where adopting parents cover all the cost. The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCISOpens in a new window.) set the procedure. Adoptions abroad are governed by the laws of both the United States and the adoptee’s home country. In recent years, the United States has banned adoption from several countries, including Cambodia, Vietnam, and Nepal, after evidence of fraud surfaced. Guatemala also stopped overseas adoptions. Moreover, many foreign countries don’t allow gay couples to adopt.

Tip: A pre-adoptive family must meet the requirements of their legal state of residence. The Child Welfare Information Gateway has resourcesOpens in a new window. on licensed, private agency and independent adoption and offers information on state laws regarding consent, as well as detailed information on the process and requirements for different types of adoption.

3. Ask far-reaching questions.

In addition to asking the adoption agency about all the costs involved, Wilson-Byrne and Flynn, for example, asked the following: Have you been successful placing children with gay men? Can you provide references from other couples whom you have placed children with in the last two years and whom we can talk with?

Another upside: The couple was required to participate in group discussions orchestrated by the agency with other potential adoptive parents. The group consisted of gay, heterosexual, and single parents, says Wilson-Byrne, and “some were back for their second adoptions, so we could learn from their experience.”

4. Get your financial and personal records in order.

The application process isn’t for the faint of heart. “It was a robust application process,” Wilson-Bryne says. “First, there’s an application, including a personal essay and references. We also put together ‘getting to know you’ material, which included a photo album of Norman and me. We wanted them to know what it would be like to live with us—our home and things we like to do, like cooking and traveling and going to the beach.”

Be prepared for a thorough vetting process. This may include full medical exams and a background check review process similar to an FBI clearance. Importantly, your financial picture is reviewed, including statements of your net worth and tax returns.

Tip: Where to keep important documents can be an issue for any couple. A secure virtual safe, such as FidSafe® , is a good option.

5. Consult a family law attorney.

If you are considering same-sex adoption, it’s wise to speak with an attorney in your state to learn the current laws and regulations in your jurisdiction, says Zavos. “We have ongoing relationships with adoption agencies, surrogacy agencies, egg/embryo/sperm donation agencies, fertility centers, and other organizations across the country and around the world that are dedicated to helping people with family formation.”

Some attorneys who specialize in adoption are members of the American Academy of Adoption AttorneysOpens in a new window., a professional membership organization with standards of ethical practice.

“I represent and consult clients trying to bring children into their families, so I talk with my clients about the range of options—private placement, agency placement, and international adoption,” says Zavos.

Every state has different family laws regarding adoption, she says. Some states allow attorneys to actually place children for adoption like an agency would. Other states allow attorneys to only recommend an adoption agency. Some states allow adoptive parents to pay the living expenses and legal and medical expenses for the birth mother or for the child while he/she is under the care of the adoption agency. There are others that allow only legal and medical expenses and fees.

For surrogacy, a lawyer like Zavos can prepare and review gestational carrier agreements, review contracts with surrogacy agencies, and seek pre- and post-birth orders so that the intended adoptive parents will have legal rights to their child as quickly as possible.

“We also recommend that anyone intending to use an egg/embryo/sperm donor or obtain an embryo in order to grow a family prepare a contract that sets out all the agreements reached between the parties, including rights to confidentiality, disclosure of identities, payments, parental rights, court orders, and any other agreements that affect legal relationships to the child,” she says.

The common pitfalls: People are not aware how much it costs, says Zavos. They often forget about the birth father’s rights. They don’t fully understand their agency contracts. For example, a client of Zavos adopted in Texas and paid living expenses through an agency for the birth mother during her pregnancy. At the last minute, the woman decided not to place the child for adoption, which is her prerogative. They wanted all the money back from the agency, but that’s not how it works.

You typically lose your up-front money if the birth mother changes her mind, explains Zavos. Also, many couples don’t realize that they have no recourse if the birth mother decides to change her mind during the revocation period. In Maryland, the revocation period is 30 days after birth. The child may be placed with potential adoptive parents, but if the birth mother changes her mind on the 29th day, there is really no recourse. Every state has a different time period.

While the Flynns’ legal work was handled by the agency’s counsel, many adoptive parents hire their own attorney to smooth the process of adopting a child from another state. People who adopt children from other states must abide by the Interstate Compact on the Placement of ChildrenOpens in a new window. for the state where the birth takes place and also for the state where the child will live.

Documents are presented first to the state in which the child is born and then to the state where the child will be living. The relocation of a child follows the state regulations of both states. Once both states approve the placement, the child can move to the new adoptive home. This process can be quick. The Flynns’ child, Katie, was born on a Saturday, and the couple was cleared to take her home to Massachusetts four days later.

Tip: Consider hiring an attorney to help you update your will, name guardians, and research life insurance needs.

6. Take advantage of employer benefits.

Check with your human resources department to find what adoption benefits are available. Some employers will reimburse some or all of the expenses related to adoption. Many employers offer paid parental leave for adoptive parents. Wilson-Byrne, for example, qualified for six weeks of paid parental leave from his employer.

The Family and Medical Leave ActOpens in a new window. (FMLA) provides for a number of benefits, including up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newly adopted child. The FMLA applies to all public agencies, including state, local, and federal employers, and local education agencies and schools. It also applies to all private sector employers who employ 50 or more employees. To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must work for a covered employer and have worked for that employer for at least 12 months.

7. Tap tax breaks.

Tax benefits for adoption include a tax credit for the qualified adoption expenses paid to adopt an eligible child. The credit is nonrefundable, which means it’s limited to your tax liability for the year in which the adoption takes place. The maximum credit for 2017 is $13,570 per child, if your modified adjusted gross income is equal to or less than $203,540. If your modified adjusted gross income is more than $203,540 but less than $243,540, you will receive a reduced tax credit.

Qualified adoption expenses include adoption fees, court costs and attorney fees, and traveling expenses (including amounts spent for meals and lodging while away from home). An expense may be a qualified adoption expense even if it is paid before an eligible child has been identified and you have not adopted in that tax year. Generally, the credit is allowable whether the adoption is domestic or foreign. However, depending on the type of adoption, the timing rules for claiming the credit for qualified adoption expenses differ.

Fidelity Viewpoints – June 2, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

MOMBIAN LGBTQ parents: Resistance, persistence, pride

This wasn’t the Pride Month I was looking forward to.

I hoped we would be celebrating gains built on marriage equality, not battling to stop religious-exemption laws that could exclude us from parenting and limit homes for children who need them. I hoped we would be celebrating a growing understanding of transgender people, not trying to stop the same kind of bathroom bills for which North Carolina has been widely criticized. I hoped we wouldn’t still have to fight for the right of both same-sex parents to be on our children’s birth certificates.

Given the anti-LGBTQ climate that has been nourished by the Trump administration and its supporters, though, this Pride is more necessary than ever, even if it isn’t the one we may have wanted. Pride has always been both protest and celebration, and that remains as true as ever.

As LGBTQ parents, we are not new to resistance. We have resisted when people tried to prevent us from becoming parents because we are queer. When they tried to take away our children because we are queer. When former partners and spouses tried to deny our parental rights. When our children have been bullied or harassed in school.

As these examples show, LGBTQ parents—and our children—are continuing to resist and persist.

Take Massachusetts fifth-grader Marina Osit, who has two moms. She recently noticed her classmates using “gay” as a slur, and decided to start a campaign to change this. She “has raised more than $800 to purchase pins for her classmates that say, ‘Gay does not mean stupid,'” reported the Greenfield Recorder ( May 19, 2017 ).

Some persist with lawsuits. Eight same-sex couples in Indiana are fighting to have both parents’ names on their children’s birth certificates. They filed their case in 2015, and a federal district court sided with them, but the state appealed the decision. In May, they had their case heard by a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, where one judge, Diane Sykes, insisted, “You can’t overcome biology. If the state defines parenthood by virtue of biology, no argument under the Equal Protection Clause or the substantive due process clause can overcome that.” The couples’ lawyer, Karen Celestino-Horseman, disagreed, saying, “We maintain that parenthood is no longer defined by biology,” and arguing that if a child is born to a same-sex married couple, both should be presumed to be the parents, just as for different-sex couples.

And in April, three same-sex couples in Nebraska won a case they had brought way back in 2013 against the state’s ban on “homosexuals” becoming foster parents. With this ruling of the Nebraska Supreme Court, gay men and lesbians can now be treated equally in foster care placements in all 50 states.

Justice John Wright, who wrote the ruling, pulled no punches, saying that the “published statement on DHHS’ official website that ‘heterosexuals only’ need apply to be foster parents” was “legally indistinguishable from a sign reading ‘Whites Only’ on the hiring-office door.”

At the same time, so-called “religious freedom” laws in several states already allow child-placement agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ prospective parents and others if serving them conflicts with the agencies’ religious beliefs or moral convictions. Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Virginia already have such laws in place; Alabama and Oklahoma are considering them; and one in Texas is sitting on the governor’s desk as of this writing.

Nevertheless, Family Equality Council and PFLAG are leading the charge in supporting a federal bill that provides a counter to this legislation. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act, sponsored by Rep. John Lewis ( D-Georgia ) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen ( R-Florida ), would restrict federal funding for states that discriminate in adoption and foster care placements based on the sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status of prospective parents, or on the sexual orientation or gender identity of youth in care. The bill has just been introduced in the House for the fifth Congress in a row. In a Republican-led Congress, its chances may be slim ( despite Ros-Lehtinen’s support ), but it offers the opportunity to raise awareness by talking up the issue on Capitol Hill.

By Dana Rudolph, June 6, 2017 – Windy City Media Group

Click here to read the entire article.

10 Things You Shouldn’t Ask Lesbian Moms

You may think your question is innocent enough, but here’s why these inquiries are insensitive toward lesbian moms.

When my partner and I started telling our friends and families that we were going to have a baby, everyone was happy and excited for us. We were the only same-sex couple in our extended family and in our immediate circle of friends, as is often the case with gay people, so everyone had a lot of questions. Although people asked really insightful and thoughtful questions about our future family, we also heard some that left us scratching our heads. Here are the 10 questions, on behalf of all lesbian moms, I hope I never have to answer again, and the reasons why.

1. Which one of you is the mother?

We both are! Lesbain moms are both parents and we’re both women, so we’re both mothers; more than that, we’re both equally responsible for our child’s well-being, safety, and education.gay parents adoption, lesbian moms

In our case, my partner and I were together for four years before we had our son. We wanted to have a baby together. Together we dreamed about what our baby would look like, how we wanted to raise him, and what we hoped to teach him. We were both in the room the day he was born, we both signed his birth certificate, and we’re both committed to him for the rest of our lives.

2. Who’s the biological mother?

This is a slightly different question and, in a way, it’s correct and clinical. But don’t ask about a biological mother because she may not be in the family. The child may have been adopted, or one of the mothers may have carried the baby while the other contributed the egg.

The question is also off-limits because it can imply some quality of mothering: that the mother who gave birth is more of a mother. When our son was 6 months old, I went to a new physician for my annual exam. At the time, my partner was staying home with our son while I worked full-time. I did the night shift to give her a break, which meant I’d wake up with the baby every few hours. I told the doctor I’d been very tired and I felt like the exhaustion was affecting the quality of the time I was spending with my son. She asked me if I’d given birth to him and when I said no, she nodded knowingly. She implied that I just felt disengaged because I wasn’t bonding with my son as much as my partner. I mentally tore up her entire exam room, Godzilla-style. You may have the best intentions asking this question, but please understand why a nonbiological mother might feel a little bit defensive about answering it.

3. Where did you get the sperm?

Obviously, no lesbian couple is delusional enough to think that people assume they made a baby together. If there was a pregnancy in the family, most certainly sperm was involved and it didn’t come from one of the mothers. But even if you know the couple very well, this question is still a touchy subject. Maybe the sperm is from someone you also know or maybe it just feels too weird to name the sperm bank, but mostly, it’s nobody’s business.

4. Is the dad in your child’s life?

Well, simply put, there is no dad. A dad is a parent, someone who’s as worn out as us from pretending to be Team Umizoomi characters for hours on end (at the moment, my partner and I are under strict instructions to refer to each other as Bot and Geo). If a male friend used a sperm donor because he couldn’t have children biologically, we wouldn’t ask him or his wife if “the dad” were involved. We’d be clear on who the dad is. I think it’s the same for lesbian couples: We make a strict distinction between a parent and a donor.

5. What do you know about the sperm donor?

Unless the parents initiate telling you details about the donor, don’t ask this question. Nothing matters about the donor. You have to trust that the parents have checked his health history and whatever else is important to them. The answer to this question will never be, “Well, he’s of average intelligence, he said his biggest hobby is napping, and he donates sperm for pocket money.” Choosing a sperm donor was the most nerve-racking, weird, incongruous, depressing, exhilarating, and hope-filled decision we ever made. Sperm donors are tested for diseases and genetic conditions, and because he won’t be a parent, his hobbies, weight, and employment status don’t matter. We’ve chosen not to share details about the donor with anyone until our son knows those details himself. It’s his private information.

More Off-Limits Questions

6. Isn’t your child confused about what to call you?

This is actually a good question, but there’s a better way to ask it. How about, “What does he call each mom?” When our son was born, we couldn’t decide what we wanted to be called. We really didn’t know if it was feasible to wait until he was old enough to pick his own names for us. But one day he started calling me “Meme” and my partner “Mama.” These were his names for us, and he chose them with no input (believe me, I would’ve picked something hipper than Meme.) He’s never confused because the concept of having two moms hasn’t even entered his mind yet. He sees us as two different parents: one Mama and one Meme.

7. Doesn’t your child miss out on doing “dad” things, like playing ball and using tools?

We try to expose our son to as many things as we can, which includes activities that are stereotypically male, but our son sets the direction of his interests. We don’t make him play with the toys we loved as kids (and I don’t open the back door and tell him to “come back when the streetlights come on,” like my mother did). He asks to watch construction site videos on YouTube. He loves trains, so we’ve all learned the names of every train on the Island of Sodor — every single one.

By L.A. Pintea – Parents.com

Gay dads may be more involved in their children’s lives

Kentucky family court judge W. Mitchell Nance says he refuses to hold hearings on same-sex couples’ adoptions “as a matter of conscience.”

He’s not the only authority defying the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that made marriage equality the law of the land. So-called “religious freedom” bills in Texas, South Dakota and Alabama could let private adoption agencies discriminate against same-sex couples. When pressed on the question, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently refused to tell lawmakers whether she believes the federal government should deny government funds to schools that discriminate against the children of LGBT parents – or LGBT students.more gay couples are embracing surrogacy

Maybe these officials, judges and lawmakers should check out the research on how gay parents differ from straight parents. So far, most of this scholarship has focused on the social, emotional and cognitive outcomes of children they raise. (Spoiler alert: These kids turn out fine.)

As a former teacher who now researches gay dads and their families while pursuing a doctorate in education, I am studying how the growing number of men married to other men are raising their children. So far, I’m finding few differences between them and their straight peers of similar socioeconomic status – especially regarding their children’s schooling.

A growing population

Since the Census Bureau estimates but does not count the number of households headed by two fathers, it’s hard to track them.

Plans were taking shape for the Census Bureau to begin counting same-sex-parented households in 2020. They seem unlikely to move forward due to recent budget cuts, the census director’s recent resignation and the political climate.

Nevertheless, The American Community Survey, the Census Bureau’s ongoing demographic survey of approximately three million households, already follows same-sex parenting. It estimates that in 2015, almost 40,000 two-dad households were raising children, compared to about 30,000 in 2010.

Parenting roles

How do parents in these families settle into specific roles? In short, just like heterosexual parents do.

Research suggests that affluent, white, two-father households adhere to traditional parenting roles. One is the primary breadwinner, while the other earns either less income or none at all and handles most of the caregiving and chores.

However, two-dad households can challenge the 1940s Norman Rockwell image of gendered parenting – just like heterosexual couples can.

Households with two fathers working full-time rely on daycare facilities, babysitters, housekeepers and nearby relatives for support. Some of these men even take on responsibilities based on skills and strengths, rather than who fits the socially and culturally constructed mold of being more “motherly” or “fatherly.”

Community and school engagement

And that’s where the parenting of gay dads may differ from a traditional heterosexual household, as my research and the work of other scholars suggests.

While interviewing and spending time with 20 two-dad families living in the Northeast for my current study, I have learned that they’re apt to step up. Many become involved as classroom parents, voluntarily assisting teachers, reading books or leading singalongs. Some take leadership roles by becoming active PTA members or organizing events that go beyond their children’s classes. In some cases, gay fathers become PTA presidents or serve on school boards.

Like all civically engaged parents, gay fathers support their local museums and libraries and enroll their kids in camps and extracurricular activities. They sometimes do additional volunteer work for social justice groups.

CBSNews.com by Andrew Leland – June 5, 2017

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Gay man says church members beat, choked him for hours to expel ‘homosexual demons’

Matthew Fenner was leaving a Sunday prayer service in January 2013 when a group of church members surrounded him.

As he told police, a church leader and more than 20 other members of the Word of Faith Fellowship — based in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Spindale, N.C. — repeatedly punched, beat and knocked him down for about two hours. At one point, someone grabbed him by the throat and shook him, he said.

That attacks took place “to break me free of the homosexual demons they so viciously despise,” Fenner, who identifies as gay, told television station WSPA a year later. After the episode, he left the fellowship.conversion therapy

In December 2014, a minister and four members of the Rutherford County church were indicted on charges that they kidnapped, beat and strangled Fenner, then 21. They pleaded not guilty.

And on Thursday, Fenner was the first person to testify in the trial of Brooke Covington, 58, the church minister accused of leading the alleged kidnapping and assault of Fenner on that day, more than four years ago. She is the first of five church members to face trial in the case, the Associated Press reported. If convicted, she faces up to two years in prison.

Fenner said he thought he was “going to die” while the church members beat and choked him. He accused Covington of telling him, “God said there is something wrong in your life.”

“I’m frail and in my mind, I’m thinking, ‘Is my neck going to break, am I going to die?’” Fenner said, adding he had cancer as a child and underwent a biopsy a week before the attack took place, the Associated Press reported.

When Fenner brought the allegations three years ago, it was not the first time the church had been accused of beating members over their sexual orientation. Two years earlier, former church member Michael Lowry said he was beaten and held against his will at the church as an effort to eliminate his gay demons.

Lowry testified before a grand jury, but about a year later, the same month Fenner says he was beaten and strangled, Lowry rejoined Word of Faith and took back his allegations. He has since left the church, and later said in a statement that his original claims are true.

The Word of Faith, opened by Jane and Sam Whaley in 1979 in a former steakhouse, began with a handful of followers and grew to a 750-member congregation in North Carolina. Eventually another 2,000 members would join affiliated churches in Brazil, Ghana and other countries.

June 2, 2017 – Washington Post by Samantha Schmidt

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