Family judge quits after refusing to approve adoptions by gay couples

A judge has resigned from the bench because he doesn’t want to oversee same-sex adoptions.

Judge Nance’s order registered an “conscientious objection to the concept of adoption of a child by a practising homosexual”, seeking to recuse himself from such cases on the grounds of “matters of conscience”.gay adoption

The judge claimed he cannot hear the cases because he believes there is no circumstance in which “the best interest of the child [would] be promoted by the adoption by a practicing homosexual”.

But after a probe was launched into his decision, this week the judge opted to resign from the bench entirely.

The state judicial commission had filed ethics charges against Nance, accusing him of violating the judicial code of conduct.

This bars judges from overtly “showing bias or prejudice based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status”.

He was also accused of failing to act in a way that “promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary”.

Responding to the charges this week, Nance’s lawyers confirmed that he would be resigning rather than face punishment.

pinknews.com, October 27, 2017

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Rejected by adoption agencies, the Dumonts from Dimondale is suing the state

DumontKristy and Dana Dumont have been married for six years.

DIMONDALE –  Kristy Dumont had nine Cabbage Patch Kids dolls when she was a kid. She always knew she wanted to be a mom. 

But, as an adult, she didn’t want to have children without the security of a legal marriage.

“Being gay threw a wrench into that,” she said.

But she met Dana Dumont on Match.com when she was 28. On the five-year anniversary of their first kiss, Dana and Kristy married in Vermont. It was 2011, and same-sex marriages were legal there.

The couple now lives in a Dimondale subdivision with a cat and two Great Danes. They bought the red brick house in February because they want to become parents and liked the district.

After the state launched a marketing campaign to encourage families to adopt foster children, Dana, a property specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, began forwarding emails with pictures of the children to Kristy.

“You start to think, life is pretty good,” Dana said. “But, maybe it’s not for some of these kids and maybe we could help with that.”

 

Kristy contacted the Lansing office of St. Vincent Catholic Charities in 2016 about adoption. The organization told her it does not work with same-sex couples, she said. She contacted Bethany Christian Services in 2017. They told her the same thing, she said.

By Sarah Lehr, Lansing State Journal, September 26, 2017

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Israeli government ends opposition to same-sex adoption

The Israeli government on Tuesday formally ended its opposition to adoption rights for same-sex couples.

Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, cited media reports that indicate the Israeli Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services told the State Attorney’s Office “it has no objection to the practice.”

Same-sex couples in Israel are able to adopt children, but Haaretz reports they can “only adopt children for whom no adoptive heterosexual married couple can be found.” The newspaper notes gay and lesbian couples must wait longer to adopt than those who are heterosexual and Israeli law considers adoptive parents who are of the same sex “individual adoptive parents.”Israel Surrogacy

The Association of Israeli Gay Fathers and the Israel Religious Action Center challenged the law in a petition with the Israeli Supreme Court it filed against the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit. Haaretz last month reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in a brief said, “it has been decided by the professional bodies in the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry not to act at the present time to change the existing law.”

Haaretz on Tuesday reported the ministry’s new adoption criteria “will address the potential parents’ suitability for a given child, regardless of sexual orientation.” The Knesset has to formally act on amending the country’s adoption law in order for the proposed regulations to take effect.

“By acknowledging that same-sex couples are able to be parents and adopt, the Ministry of Social Services has straighten line (sic) with experts and the Israeli public,” Chen Arieli, chair of the Aguda, the Israeli National LGBT Task Force, told the Washington Blade in a statement. “Now it’s time for members of the Knesset to do their part, and we expect them to change the law as soon as possible.”

by Michael Lavers – washingtonblade.com, August 30. 2017

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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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Tennessee ‘Natural Meaning’ Law Raises Fears in LGBT Community

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam on Friday enacted a bill that critics say is an underhanded way of denying rights to same-sex couples by insisting on the “natural and ordinary meaning” of words in state statues.

(Reuters) – The legislation, which was signed by the Republican governor despite pressure from civil liberty and gay-rights groups, requires words in Tennessee law be interpreted with their “natural and ordinary meaning, without forced or subtle construction that would limit or extend the meaning of the language.” It did not explain, however, what that means.

Civil rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocates warned the law is meant to undermine the rights of same-sex couples in any statutes that include words like “husband,” “wife,” “mother” or “father.”Discrimination

Neither of the two sponsoring lawmakers, Republican state Senator John Stevens and Republican state Representative Andrew Farmer, could be reached to comment.

However, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported Stevens said he proposed the measure partly to compel courts to side more closely with the dissenting opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges which legalized same-sex marriage.

Haslam said on Friday he believes the law will not change how courts interpret legal precedent.

“While I understand the concerns raised about this bill, the Obergefell decision is the law of the land, and this legislation does not change a principle relied upon by the courts for more than a century, mitigating the substantive impact of this legislation,” he said in a statement.

The Tennessee measure is one of more than 100 bills introduced in U.S. state legislatures this year that to curtail LGBT rights, said Cathryn Oakley, senior legislative counsel for the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign.

 

While public opinion polls and court rulings have shifted in favor of same-sex rights in recent years, there is ongoing pushback from the 2015 ruling, Oakley said.

Last month, a Kentucky family court judge made headlines by issuing an order stating he would not hear adoption cases involving same-sex couples due to personal objections. That echoed Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis’ 2015 refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses because it violated her religious beliefs.

U.S. News and World report, May 5, 2017 – By Chris Kenning

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Governor Signs ‘Religious Freedom’ Law Allowing Adoption Agencies to Discriminate Against Gay Couples

‘This Bill Is Not About Discrimination, but Instead Protects the Ability of Religious Agencies to Place Vulnerable Children in a Permanent Home’ Governor Says, Falsely

Alabama’s newly-elevated governor has just signed into law legislation that allows adoption agencies to cite their “sincerely-held religious beliefs” as a reason to ban same-sex couples from adopting. Republican Kay Ivey took office last month when embattled governor Robert Bentley was forced to resign amid a sex and finance scandal.

“The need for adoption is so high. We need to have every avenue available,” State Senator Bill Hightower said of his bill allowing adoption agencies a religious license to discriminate.Discrimination

The Alabama Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, also known as HB24, would even allow adoption agencies to cite its “sincerely held religious beliefs” and refuse to place children with blood relatives. As HRC noted last month, even a “qualified, loving LGBTQ grandparent, for example, could be deemed unsuitable under the proposed law.””I ultimately signed House Hill 24 because it ensures hundreds of children can continue to find ‘forever homes’ through religiously-affiliated adoption agencies. This bill is not about discrimination, but instead protects the ability of religious agencies to place vulnerable children in a permanent home,” Gov. Ivey said.

By David Badash, thenewcivilrightsmovement.com, May 3, 2017

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As ‘a matter of conscience,’ a Kentucky judge refuses to hear adoption cases involving gay parents

Two years after a Kentucky county clerk stirred national attention for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a family court judge in the same state announced he will no longer hear adoption cases involving gay parents, calling his stance on the issue “a matter of conscience.”

Judge W. Mitchell Nance, who sits in Barren and Metcalfe counties in Kentucky, issued an order Thursday saying he believes that allowing a “practicing homosexual” to adopt would “under no circumstance” promote the best interest of the child, he wrote in the order obtained by The Washington Post.

The judge disqualified himself from any adoption cases involving gay couples, citing judicial ethics codes requiring that judges recuse themselves whenever they have a “personal bias or prejudice” concerning a case. Nance’s “conscientious objection” to the concept of gay parents adopting children constitutes such a bias, he argued.Discrimination

The announcement garnered support from some conservative groups, while also spurring intense criticism from some lawyers and judicial ethics experts who viewed the blanket statement as discriminatory, and a sign that Nance is not fit to fulfill his duties as a judge. Kentucky state law permits gay couples to adopt children, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that all states must allow same-sex marriage.

That ruling came in four cases consolidated as Obergefell et al. v Hodges, one of which specifically involved a couple who wanted to adopt but was barred from doing so because Michigan banned same-sex marriage and adoption by unmarried couples.

Nance’s recusal drew some comparisons to the case of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who was jailed after she refused in the face of multiple court orders to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying she couldn’t issue the licenses because her name was on them, and it violated her religious beliefs. Eventually, deputies in her office began issuing licenses. Kentucky’s governor and General Assembly would later remove the name of clerks from the marriage licenses.

by Samantha Schmidt, May 1, 2017 – Washington Post

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In Gay Rights Case, Woman to Appeal for Parental Rights to Ex-Partner’s Son

A Manhattan woman who went to court to prove that she should be considered a legal parent to a child adopted by her former same-sex partner is planning to appeal after losing her case last week.

“I have to keep going,” said Kelly Gunn, 52, of the West Village area of Manhattan. “I’m going to do everything I can to protect him and protect my relationship as parent.”

Ms. Gunn went to court last September to prevent her former partner, Circe Hamilton, 45, from moving to her native London with Abush, the 7-year-old whom Ms. Hamilton had adopted from Ethiopia in 2011.

Ms. Gunn and Ms. Hamilton were a couple when they began planning for the adoption, but they separated in 2010 before Abush had been identified by the adoption agency. In court, Ms. Gunn argued that because the adoption plan had been created when they were together, and because she had provided support and care once the boy arrived, she merited the legal status of parent. Ms. Hamilton argued that their adoption plan had ended with their separation and said that the role Ms. Gunn had played in the boy’s life was akin to that of a godmother or a close friend.

Circe Hamilton

Ms. Gunn’s arguments were made possible because of a newly expanded definition of parenthood in New York. Bringing custody law up to date with the realities of same-sex and other nontraditional parenting arrangements, the State Court of Appeals ruled in August that a caretaker who is not related to, or the adoptive guardian of, a child could still seek custody and visitation rights.

The landmark ruling in that 2016 case, known as Brooke S. B., was written by Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first African-American woman on the court, who last week was found dead in the Hudson River.

Increasing numbers of children were being deprived of access to a loving de facto parent, Judge Abdus-Salaam wrote, simply because that parent did not appear on an adoption paper or have a biological tie. The ruling created a new legal test.

“Where a partner shows by clear and convincing evidence that the parties agreed to conceive a child and to raise the child together, the nonbiological, nonadoptive partner has standing to seek visitation and custody,” she wrote.

In one of the first applications of that ruling, Judge Frank P. Nervo concluded in his April 11 decision that Ms. Gunn had failed to prove that her role in Abush’s life rose to the level of parent. Citing her emails to Ms. Hamilton, he said that Ms. Gunn “herself acknowledged repeatedly that the plan to adopt a child with respondent died with their relationship.”

Nancy Chemtob, Ms. Gunn’s lawyer, has 20 days to seek a continued stay of the ruling before Ms. Hamilton can leave the country with Abush. “I believe that this decision doesn’t follow Brooke,” she said.

Bonnie Rabin, one of Ms. Hamilton’s lawyers, said the ruling should allay concerns that a trusted caretaker could suddenly claim parental rights under the state’s expanded definition of parentage. “That would be very scary to parents,” she said.

New York Times, by Sharon Ottoman, April 19, 2017

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For Gay Parents, Deciding Between Adoption and Surrogacy Raises Tough Moral Questions

When my husband David and I became new parents, we thought it would be fun and perhaps even affirming to get involved with a gay dads group.

As far as I could tell, the only regular event was a brunch that took place every few months. That sounded promising, a throwback to idle Sundays before the babies made it all about them. The food was always great—these are gay men, after all. But as it turned out, the event was neither fun nor affirming.

The gatherings mostly took place in wealthy suburban redoubts and were marked by a weird social division between two teams: Surrogacy Dads and Adoptive Dads. Some of this division was to be expected. Each group had war stories to share, and it was natural to break the ice with those who had lived through similar experiences. But after one or two brunches, I came to see that this kind of informal division reflected something much deeper: a philosophical debate about how we should form our families. The annoyingly named “gayby boom” has created a knot of moral questions that are impossible to avoid.Child health outcomes

Should is a weird word to use in this context, of course. For gay men especially, bringing children into the family is difficult and challenging no matter which route one chooses. Our first instinct should be support for all families, regardless of what route each of us took to realize our dreams. Both surrogacy and adoption present daunting legal obstacles—even now that marriage equality has been achieved.

As I learned when researching a book I co-authored, surrogacy is a state-by-state legal minefield. Some states won’t recognize these contracts at all, while the law in other states is unsettled. And there is the ever-present danger that the woman carrying the child will try to renege on her commitment. Adoption is hardly more secure. The countries offering this choice to gay men are constantly changing. Domestic adoption can be fraught as well either because birth mothers change their minds, or as in our case of adoption through the child welfare system, because the process has no certain outcome.

Beyond the legal hurdles, though, there’s an undeniable moral component to whatever decision we make. Those who can pony up the money for surrogacy—which frequently exceeds $100,000, all in—are faced with the cold fact that they’re selecting an egg donor based on objective calculations of positive attributes. Lesbians do the same with sperm donors, although of course at a much lower cost since no surrogate is needed.

When a case surfaces that draws the uncomfortable selection process into the open, people are left tongue-tied trying to figure out the proper response. A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece for Slate about the case of a lesbian couplethat sued a sperm bank for providing the “wrong” material—from a black, rather than a white, donor. As I said at the time, outraged gasps at the couple were “easy, but not completely fair. Because everyone who transacts business with companies that offer sperm and egg donation is looking for a bespoke baby.”

When it comes to the gestational surrogate, there’s the additional issue of contributing to an industry that commodifies the body in an obvious way. The ethical issues multiply when the surrogate is from a developing country, often India, where women are paid much less for their services; but such “surrogacy tourism” just highlights the uncomfortable exchange going on in all these cases.

Those thinking of adopting face internal battles, too. As required by law, case workers confronted David and me with an unsettling battery of questions about the race, age, and sex of the kids we were willing to adopt, as well as delicately phrased inquiries about whether we’d be comfortable dealing with disabled kids—and, if so, they needed to know, what kinds of disabilities did we think we could handle? Really, who knows?

By John Culhane, slate.com

Hey, Daddy! is a monthly column exploring the joys and struggles of parenting from a gay father’s perspective. Got a topic idea or question for Daddy? Send your letter along to johnculhane@comcast.net.

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South Dakota Allows State-Funded Adoption Agencies to Turn Away Same-Sex Couples

Religious liberty means different things to different people. To James Madison, it meant freedom from religious persecution—and, specifically, from taxes used to fund specific religious sects.

To Thomas Jefferson, it meant freedom of worship, safeguarded by a strict separation of church and state. And to South Dakota Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard, it means the freedom of state-funded agencies to refuse to let same-sex couples foster or adoption children.new york adoption, new york state adoption, adoption New York

On Friday evening, Daugaard signed SB 149 into law, granting publicly funded adoption agencies a license to discriminate. The law permits any “child-placement agency” in the state—including those that receive taxpayer money—to discriminate on the basis of “any sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction.” Republican legislators designed the law to let these agencies turn away same-sex couples who hope to foster or adopt; its Senate sponsor, Republican Sen. Alan Solano, co-wrote the bill with Catholic Social Services, a vigorously anti-gay religious adoption agency that will not place children with same-sex couples. But the measure actually extends far beyond LGBTQ discrimination: It will also allow agencies to discriminate against single and divorced people, couples who engage in premarital sex, interfaith couples, and anyone else whose behavior or identity violates an agency’s “religious belief or moral conviction.”

More than 300 children are currently awaiting adoption in South Dakota, a number that SB 149 may well increase. Many of these children were removed from neglectful or abusive homes; SB 149 reduces the odds that they will find families to take them in. Adoption and foster care agencies may now turn away qualified individuals for reasons that are utterly immaterial to the wellbeing of children. The upshot of the bill is that more kids are likely to be left without homes and families.

by Mark Joseph Stern, Slate.com – March 13, 2017

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