Parliament in Germany Approves Same-Sex Marriage

Lawmakers in Germany voted on Friday to allow same-sex marriage after a brisk but emotional debate in Parliament, setting the stage for the country to join more than a dozen European nations — including Ireland, France and Spain — in legalizing such unions.

BERLIN — The historic decision came with a swiftness rare in Germany’s usually staid politics, after Chancellor Angela Merkel unexpectedly eased her conservative party’s opposition to gay marriage and said she would allow lawmakers to vote their conscience on the measure, although she ultimately voted against it.

Ms. Merkel’s softened resistance paved the way for her coalition partners in the Social Democratic Party and two other political groups to press for Friday’s vote, which passed 393 to 226, with four abstentions.marital trust

“If the Constitution guarantees one thing, it is that anyone in this country can live as they wish,” Thomas Oppermann, the parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats, said in opening the floor debate. “If gay marriage is decided, then many will receive something, but nobody will have something taken away.”

His remark was clearly intended to defuse conservatives — including Ms. Merkel — who argued that the Constitution protected conventional marriage.

The chancellor explained her stance in a two-minute statement after the vote, saying that she had come to support the right of same-sex couples to adopt but maintained her view that marriage remained a union between a man and a woman.

“I hope that with today’s vote, not only that mutual respect is there between the individual positions, but also that a piece of social peace and togetherness could be created,” Ms. Merkel said.

Axel Hochrein, a board member of the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany who attended the parliamentary debate, expressed no bitterness toward Ms. Merkel, even though he had said Thursday evening that he thought she was leaning toward supporting the measure.

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Gay Couples Entitled to Equal Treatment on Birth Certificates, Justices Rule

The Supreme Court on Monday reaffirmed its 2015 decision recognizing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, ruling that states may not treat married same-sex couples differently from others in issuing birth certificates.

WASHINGTON — The decision was unsigned. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., dissented.

The case concerns an Arkansas law about birth certificates that treats married opposite-sex couples differently from same-sex ones. A husband of a married woman is automatically listed as the father even if he is not the genetic parent. Same-sex spouses are not.gay parents adopting, same sex paretners

The case, Pavan v. Smith, No. 16-992, was brought by two married lesbian couples who had jointly planned their child’s conception by means of an anonymous sperm donor. State officials listed the biological mother on the children’s birth certificates and refused to list their partners, saying they were not entitled to a husband’s presumption of paternity.

New York times, by Adam Liptak, June 26, 2017

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Why Do I Have To Adopt My Own Daughter?

This Pride, I’ll be marching for my daughter, who isn’t securely mine without adoption.

This year’s Pride Parade will be different. On June 25th, LGBT New Yorkers and their straight allies will congregate in the streets of Manhattan with an urgency the city hasn’t seen since the 80s AIDS crisis or the Stonewall Riots in 1969, which galvanized the modern day Gay Rights Movement. Tens of thousands will stomp down Fifth Avenue protesting the Trump Administration’s sustained efforts to roll back—way back—LGBT progress. I’ll be joining them, but mostly I’ll be marching for my daughter Marty, who, it turns out, isn’t securely mine without an adoption.

Since taking office in January, Trump has rejected proposed changes to include LGBT-related questions on the U.S. Census; he erased a page dedicated to LGBT Rights from the White House’s official website; he rescinded the guidelines Obama put forth allowing trans students to use the bathrooms that correspond with their gender expression; and he partially revoked an Obama-era executive order compelling federal contractors to demonstrate their compliance with anti-discrimination directives.lesbian moms

Although I thought Marty was already mine in no uncertain terms, a few months ago, while researching estate planning attorneys, my spouse Sabrina and I discovered just how tenuous my relationship to Marty could be without a second-parent adoption. Despite the fact that she was born within my marriage, that my name is on her birth certificate, that we live in New York, one of the most progressive states in the country, and that our marriage is recognized by the federal government, every major LGBT advocacy group strongly advises me—and every other non-gestational parent—to complete a second-parent adoption to protect our family from potential legal consequences. And it will cost, at best, a whopping$4,000.

Neglecting to adopt Marty could have shattering consequences: If we ever visit or live in a state where family law is not settled on questions surrounding the legal status of non-biological parents, or one that continues to challenge marital equality, or another country that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, my parentage could be disputed by a medical or school administrator. In cases of life or death, and the need for immediate decision-making authority, that could be especially devastating.

According to Anthony M. Brown, an LGBT family law attorney in New York City, it’s not just news to me. “Gay couples are often surprised and indignant by the necessity of second-parent adoption because they believe we’ve already fought and won this battle,” he says. “But the battle is still playing out in family courts around the country and world.”

“Emboldened legislatures,” he adds, “are attempting to whittle away at marriage rights through parentage issues.” Arkansas and Indiana, for examples, refuse to allow non-biological parents in same-sex marriages to appear on their children’s birth certificates. And a judge in Kentucky thinks he can recuse himself from gay adoptions because, he says, “under no circumstance would ‘… the best interest of the child … be promoted by adoption …’ by a practicing homosexual.”

These legal quagmires existed before Trump was elected, but his presence in the Oval Office adds new anxieties for same-sex parents. “In the Trump era,” says Cathryn Oakley, a senior legislative counselor at the Human Rights Campaign, “where we see more rhetoric about it being OK to discriminate and Trump giving credence to those who say they should have a religious right to refuse services to same-sex couples, you need to have every possible protection.”

by Stephanie Fairyington, Elle .com June 23, 2017

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Federal Court Lifts Injunction on Mississippi Anti-Gay Law

A federal appeals court on Thursday lifted an injunction on a Mississippi law that grants private individuals and government workers far-reaching abilities to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on religious grounds, though lawyers said the law was likely to remain blocked for the time being during the appeals process.

Thursday’s decision, issued by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, is part of a legal drama being closely watched by gay-rights advocates and religious conservatives. The state law, titled the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, was signed by Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, on April 5, 2016. It is considered the most aggressive of several state-level conservative responses to the United States Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015.Discrimination

According to a legal analysis released last year by Columbia University, the Mississippi law would, among other things, allow government clerks to opt out of certifying same-sex marriages (though only if the marriage is not “impeded or delayed” by their decision) and allow businesses to deny wedding-related services to same-sex couples if their marriage contravened “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”

It would allow religious organizations to engage in job and housing discrimination against L.G.B.T. people; allow public school counselors to refuse to work with L.G.B.T. students; and potentially force child-welfare agencies to place L.G.B.T. children with anti-gay foster or adoptive parents.

The law also contains provisions that could potentially affect single heterosexual people. “For example,” the authors of the analysis wrote, “it would allow a religious university to fire a single mother working in its cafeteria, who supports her children on her own, because the university has a religious opposition to sex outside marriage.”

Last June, just before the law was to take effect, a federal district judge issued the injunction, finding that the law violated the First and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.

Thursday’s 16-page ruling states, in essence, that the plaintiffs challenging the law, many of whom are gay Mississippi residents, lacked standing because the law had not yet injured them.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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