Surrogate law change? Agency cheated donors!

Should surrogate law(s) change or be updated?Surrogates & egg donors cheated by agency!

The owner of a Glendora egg donation and surrogacy company was sentenced today to a year and a half in federal prison for cheating would-be parents, egg donors and surrogates out of nearly $270,000.

Allison Layton, 38, was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release after she is released from prison. A restitution hearing was set for Oct. 22.

Layton, who also used the name Allison Jarvie, pleaded guilty in February to a federal wire fraud charge. She owned Miracles Egg Donation, which claimed to handle the logistics of the donation and surrogacy process, and operated it out of her living room, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Between August 2008 and January 2012, would-be parents — who in the surrogacy and egg donation world are known as intended parents — paid thousands of dollars for egg donation and surrogacy services that Miracles promised to coordinate, federal prosecutors said.

Should Surrogate Law(s) Change? Glendora surrogacy agency owner gets prison for cheating would-be parents, egg donors and surrogates!

Layton took tens of thousands of dollars from intended parents. But instead of putting the funds into escrow accounts to be withdrawn only for certain costs related to surrogacy or egg donation, she used the money for her own personal expenses or to cover unpaid costs related to other clients, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As a result of Layton’s misappropriation of client funds, egg donors, surrogates, attorneys and others often weren’t paid for all the services they provided, and intended parents often did not receive all the services for which they had paid, according to court documents. At least one investor in Miracles also lost money.

Click here to read the entire article. September 28, 2015


Gay Parents Adopting Face Issues

Gay Parents Adopting Face Issues With Birth Certificates In Some States

Gay parents adopting in a handful of states are seeing issues where the state is refusing to name both parents from a same-sex couple on a birth certificate, even though its among the benefits named in the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

DAVID GREENE, HOST: In the state of Kentucky, Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk, made big news when she refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses. But this is not the only controversy since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage earlier this year, as NPR’s Jennifer Ludden reports, a handful of states are refusing to name both parents from a same-sex couple on birth certificates.

JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: Miami attorney Elizabeth Schwartz brought the case that legalized same-sex marriage in Florida in January. And she’s still getting high-fives from this summer’s Supreme Court decision.

ELIZABETH SCHWARTZ: Congratulations. We’re done. You know, crossed the finish line. And that it’s wah-wah (ph) not exactly.

LUDDEN: Last month, one of Schwartz’s plaintiffs called back. Cathy Pareto and her longtime partner were the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Florida, but Pareto says they got a rude awakening when her now-wife, Karla, delivered twins last month. A hospital staffer came to take information for the birth certificate.

CATHY PARETO: What’s the name of your child? Who’s the father? Oh, gee, there’s no father. Oh, but I want my wife listed. Oh, well, let me get back to you on that.

LUDDEN: Turns out the state’s vital statistics office said the hospital could not put Pareto’s name on the certificate. It pointed to the Florida statute that still said the state did not recognize same-sex marriage.

PARETO: At this point, I am nothing legally for my children. My twins and I are not the legally connected in any way.

LUDDEN: Pareto worries she’d lose custody if something happened to her wife. She also can’t sign for the twins at a doctor’s office, day care or to get a passport. So her attorney, Schwartz, has filed another suit on behalf of Pareto and two other couples.

SCHWARTZ: It’s a terrible waste of resources, of our resources and of the state’s resources. I mean, they ought to follow the law.

LUDDEN: Florida’s health department says it can’t comment on pending litigation. In court documents, it doesn’t actually make a case for not issuing same-sex birth certificates. The state simply says it has asked a judge to clarify whether it can. In recent months, courts in Utah, Texas and Ohio have ruled in those states can and must. The U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage specifically mentions birth certificates as a benefit to which gay and lesbian couples are now entitled. Lawsuits in another handful of states are pending. But even they won’t be the last word for same-sex couples with children.

Click here to read the entire interview. by Jennifer Ludden, September 21, 2014

Gay and Lesbian Adoption: Alabama Court Refuses

Alabama Supreme Court Refuses to Recognize Lesbian Mother’s Adoption from Another State

Today, there was a blow to gay and lesbian adoption rights when the Alabama Supreme Court refused to recognize an adoption by a lesbian mother of her three children granted by a Georgia court in 2007. Even though she had raised the children from birth and adopted them over eight years ago, the Court ruled that Alabama does not need to respect her adoption because it found that the Georgia court didn’t properly apply Georgia law when it granted her adoption.

Although the Alabama Supreme Court recognized that full faith and credit prohibits a state from inquiring into the laws applied by a court from another state, it ruled that Alabama did not have to respect the Georgia court’s adoption because the Court believed that Georgia law did not allow same-sex parents to adopt. One Justice dissented from this opinion, explaining that full faith and credit prohibits Alabama from considering whether the Georgia court correctly applied its own laws, and that this ruling puts all adopted children in Alabama at risk if it is later discovered that there was some small error in the adoption.

In E.L. v. V.L., two women in a long term relationship had three children through donor insemination. The non-biological mother, V.L., adopted the children in Georgia. The biological mother participated in that process and consented in writing to the adoptions. When the parents later broke up, the biological mother, E.L., kept V.L. from seeing the children. V.L. sought visitation in Alabama, where the family lives. E.L. opposed her request, arguing that the Georgia adoption was invalid in Alabama.

V.L is represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and Alabama attorneys Heather Fann of Boyd, Fernambucq, Dunn & Fann, P.C., and Traci Vella of Vella & King, Attorneys at Law.

“It is extremely difficult to see the distress in my children as they realize that the courts who are tasked with putting their best interests first won’t recognize our family,” said V.L. “I am just a Mom who wanted and prayed for these children and raised them from birth, and I hope every day that we can be together again.”

Alabama Supreme Court refuses to recognize gay and lesbian adoption(s)

from outside the state

“The Alabama Supreme Court’s refusal to recognize an adoption granted eight years ago harms not only these children, but all children with adoptive parents,” said NCLR Family Law Director Cathy Sakimura. “Children who are adopted must be able to count on their adoptions being final—allowing an adoption to be found invalid years later because there may have been a legal error in the adoption puts all adopted children at risk of losing their forever families.”

“The biological mother in this case chose my client as a second parent to these children, before their births, during their conceptions, and in formal adoption proceedings intended to ensure my client’s rights — wherein she stated that having my client as a parent was in the children’s best interests,” said Heather Fann. “Because, many years later, she chose to contradict her own decision-making regarding the establishment of a family for those children, a court ruled today that my client is not a parent. Not only is that not true, its harm extends far beyond my client, to children who have called her mother their entire lives, and now to adoptive families throughout Alabama. It’s beyond unfortunate that the Alabama Supreme Court has disregarded the recommendations of the children’s own lawyers and national adoption organizations in arriving at this result.”

“As a mother myself, my heart is breaking for my client, who loves her children as much as any other mother. Gay and lesbian adoption provides children with every bit as much love as those with a biological connection to a parent,” said Traci Vella. “Ask any adoptive parent how horrifying it would be to think his or her adoption could be overturned years after it was final. That is exactly what has happened in this case.”

The children’s Guardians Ad Litem are Breauna R. Peterson and Tobie J. Smith of the Legal Aid Society of Birmingham.

The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and the Georgia Council of Adoption Lawyers filed an amicus brief in support of rehearing.


NCLR.Org – September 18, 2015

(Montgomery, AL, September 18, 2015)—

Step Parent Adoption; Married still need one?

Step Parent Adoption; Marriage means I don’t need one?

Step Parent adoption is still a must to secure your family, even after marriage equality.  Marriage equality was a long fought battle and a much celebrated victory for gay and lesbian couples across the country. Now that it is the law of the land, many people mistakenly believe that their marriage alone will secure their family. Unfortunately family law has not caught up to the realities of how we create our modern families.

For both gay and lesbian couples, securing the legal rights of a non-biological parent is crucial to create the kind of emotional, and legal, security that most other families take for granted. The legality of both parents relationship to their child is often assumed. Parents are parents, regardless of the biological connection to your child. In New York State, the law doesn’t agree.

Married lesbian couples in many states, New York included, can list a non-biological mother name as a parent on a child’s birth certificate if they are married at the time of the birth of the child and they use an anonymous sperm donor. While a name on a birth certificate is an important goal, it in itself does not create a legal relationship, only through step parent adoption can they be acheived.

Step Parent adoption is still a must to secure your family, even after marriage equality.

In New York County, Surrogate Judge Kristin Booth Glen, in a case entitled In the Matter of Sebastian, discusses the issue of establishing parental rights for a non-biological parent specifically.  The case involves married lesbian couple who used an anonymous sperm donor to have a child. Glen concludes, when discussing the non-biological mother’s relationship with the child that, “the only remedy available here that would accord the parties full and unassailable protection is a second-parent adoption pursuant to New York Domestic Relations Law (“DRL”) § 111 et seq.”  Glen further states, “that a judicial order of adoption in one state must be afforded full faith and credit in every state, and that there can be no “public Policy” exception to that mandatory recognition…”.

While it is true that many states have what is called a “martial presumption of parentage,” the truth about this is that it is applied differently in different states.  For instance, in New York State, where I practice, there is specific case law that holds that the marital presumption of parentage does not apply to same-sex couples.  That case is called “Matter of Paczkowski v. Paczkowski.”  In that case, the appellate division of the Second Department of New York, the state’s intermediate appellate court, held that the “presumption of legitimacy… is one of a biological relationship, not a legal status.”

In essence, the court says that a marriage does not create a legal right between a non-biological parent and a child.  While it may be an indication of intent to be a parent, as would a non-biological parent’s name on a birth certificate, the only way to actually create the legal relationship that guarantees the security that all same-sex families need, is through an adoption order, and in some states, a parentage order.  Unfortunately, New York currently does not have the capacity to issue a parentage order but there is legislation in committee in Albany that may change that. 

Surrogate Options & Known Donors Complicate the Legalities of Chosen Families

One further compounding variable is that many lesbian couples are now choosing known sperm donors. While the desire for a child to know their biological heritage and have a father figure makes sense to many couples, adding another potential parent into the mix can create problems if an adoption does not take place to terminate the donor’s rights to the child and create the intended, non-biological parent’s rights to their child.

For male couples who want to have biologically related children, surrogacy is the only real option. Surrogacy is an emotionally, and financially, exhausting process.  It is a true leap of faith.  Couples considering surrogacy must juggle a myriad of concerns, the least of which being the cost.  With gestational surrogacy tabs running as high as $180,000.00, budgeting is a must.  Lawyer’s fees are often lumped together in surrogacy accounting statements, and some agencies do not include the cost of a second or step parent adoption in order to keep the numbers low.  Often, the cost of a pre-birth order is less than a second parent adoption.

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In some cases, depending on where your surrogate mother gives birth, her name may be removed from the child’s original birth certificate by a proceeding called a pre-birth order.  Some states do not provide for pre-birth orders.  Those that do may or may not replace the surrogate’s name with that of the non-biological intended parent.  California, for instance, does offer the ability to include the non-biological parent’s name on the child’s original birth certificate, and that very significant step is often mistakenly viewed as a replacement for a second parent adoption, which is the only definitive way to establish parental rights between a non-biological parent and a child born through surrogacy.

In order to understand why a second parent adoption is vital if you have a pre or post-birth (or parentage) order, you must understand what that order is, and what protections it provides.  Pre and post-birth orders are court orders that are obtained by filing a petition in the appropriate court in the state in which the child will be born.  Often, these petitions are not filed in the county where the carrier lives, but in a county which has a judge who understands the importance of these orders and grants them upon the motion of an attorney representing the intended parents.  This in itself may create a problem.

Some states may not recognize the relationship created by the pre-birth order because of the lack of a full judicial process attendant to a parentage order.  For an issue to be precluded from challenge, for instance the issue of a non-biological parent’s relationship to a child born through surrogacy, the court looks at the process by which that issue has been established.  The reason why adoption orders from one state are valid in every state, regardless of the gender of the parents, is because the judicial process of the adoption.  The state, for all intents and purposes, becomes and “adversary” to the adoptive parents in the adoption process.  The state performs background checks, it orders that fingerprints be taken, mandates that a home study is performed by a licensed social worker to ensure that the child’s prospective residence is safe and clean and essentially verifies all adoption requirements submitted by the petitioning parent, or parents.  The adoption order is the product of a fully litigated judicial process.  Because this rigorous process is not part of a parentage order proceeding, states which do not offer such orders may not recognize a relationship created in one.

Furthermore, some courts, through a parentage order, will add the name of the non-biological parent to the original birth certificate if that person is married to the biological parent.  For same-sex couples, this can present an issue, particularly if the non-biological parent’s relationship to the child is being challenged in a state that resists same-sex marriage.  These situations usually arise upon the dissolution of a relationship and during the custody/visitation/support aspect of that process.

Protecting our families may seem like navigating a ship through a sea of legal, financial and emotional waters.  But what is more important than the security of knowing that every child has a legal relationship with their parents that cannot be challenged for whatever reason. Every parent deserves that security as well.

by Anthony M. Brown – September 16, 2015

Anthony M. Brown, Esq. currently is an associate with the law firm of Albert W. Chianese & Associates heading their Nontraditional Family and Estates Law division serving unmarried individuals, couples and families in Manhattan and on Long Island.  Anthony is the Executive Director of The Wedding Party and has been a Board member since its inception in 1999.   The Wedding Party is a non-profit educational organization that educates the public about marriage and its importance to all citizens through outreach programs and strategic media placement. Anthony is the founder of, a web environment dedicated to assisting gay and lesbian couples create their own families. Anthony is the Board Chairman of Men Having Babies, a non-profit organization created to assist gay men looking create families through surrogate options and is a legal consultant for Family By Design, a co-parenting information and matching website.



Adopted Kids: From Guatemala,Complicated Legacy!

Adopted Kids: For US adoptees from Guatemala,

It’s A Complicated Legacy!


Scattered across the United States are more than 29,000 adopted kids born in Guatemala and adopted by U.S. families before that troubled Central American nation shut down international adoption in 2008 amid allegations of rampant corruption and baby-selling.

Today, as adopted kids come of age, many want to know about their birth mother and why she gave them up and wonder about the murky circumstances of adoption. Some have traveled to Guatemala to investigate.

“Guatemala was all I could think about,” said Gemma Givens, a 25-year-old adoptee in California, who has made two trips to the country to learn what she could.

“I was just a mess,” she said, “the questions, the wondering, the pain, the desire to heal and to figure it out.”

International adoptions from Guatemala began to surge after a 36-year-civil war ended in 1996. Tens of thousands of civilians disappeared or were killed during the conflict, leaving legions of children without care. Orphanages overflowed, and American families seeking to adopt soon learned there was a vast supply of infants being made available.

By 2006, more than 4,000 Guatemalan children annually — about 1 of every 100 babies — were being adopted by American families, and the small country became the second-largest source of adoptees after China. Huge sums were at stake — American families routinely paid $30,000 or more to Guatemalan lawyers to arrange an adoption.

Then, as evidence of corruption mounted, the pipeline closed. Adoptions to the U.S. dropped to 27 last year.

Roughly half of all the adoptions by Americans entailed some type of impropriety — from outright abduction of infants by Guatemalan racketeers to baby-selling to various types of coercion and deception that induced mothers to relinquish their children, according to Carmen Monico of Elon University. The professor of human service studies has conducted extensive research on adoption in Guatemala.

Monico expressed empathy with adopting families, saying, “They had their hearts in the right place.” But she also has documented the experiences of Guatemalan mothers who believe their children were abducted to meet the demand.

“Some of these women have been searching for their children for years,” Monico said. Uncertainty also has weighed heavily on adoptive parents.

“After we brought our son home, I became more and more concerned,” said Laura Hernon of Seattle, who with her husband adopted a boy from Guatemala in 2008, just before the shutdown. She wondered, “Is there a mom who was duped out of her baby?”

The couple investigated, and determined anew that the adoption was legitimate.

Click here to read the entire article.


September 6, 2015 – by David Crary –


Gay Parent Adoption: Their Perfect Family!

Here’s How These Two Dads Created Their Perfect Family, a Story of Gay Parent Adoption

I guess you could consider it just another average slice of American life when Ted, a screenwriter and game developer (gamers take note, Ted was a senior developer for the seminal “Elder Scrolls” series) from Ohio, and his husband, Ian, a merchandiser from England, attended a recent potluck lunch celebrating cultural diversity at kindergarten with their adopted, multiracial child, Mikey.

What was their contribution? Well, how exactly does one best represent Ohio/England/African American ancestry? Why, casserole, of course, says Ted. A blend of noodles, chicken and vegetables seems an appropriate choice for this potpourri of a family. You could make the argument that such families are appropriately representative of new wave multiculturalism in America — a country once famous for its open doors.

Food is somewhat central to this story. Ian and Ted met at a friend’s dinner party in Venice Beach in October of 2005. They had their commitment ceremony with about a hundred friends at their place in April of 2007, and they were married just last year.

They talked about being parents very early on and investigated ways to make that happen — including gay parents adoption, gay parents adopting, gay parent adoption, adoption for gay parents, surrogacy. Ultimately, they felt that the process was overly expensive and that their own DNA was not that precious when there were kids in foster care that needed parents.

Additionally, Ian and his sister were adopted and Ian was very comfortable with not needing “blood” relations. They met Robyn Harrod and Sylvia Fogelman at the Southern California Foster Family & Adoption Agency (SCFFAA) and started to take all of the required classes. Those initial classes, Ted explained, were somewhat therapeutic for Ian. Going through the thoughts and planning that his adopting parents went through gave him a fuller understanding of the love and commitment given to both him and his sister.

Click here to read the entire article.


By JAmesMichael Nichols – HuffPostGay via @raiseachild – September 11, 2015

There are all kinds of kids in the foster system. This Huffington Post Gay Voices RaiseAChild.US “Let Love Define Family®” series installment presents one child whose sweet nature and quick wit adds a lot of spice and laughter to the lives of his two dads. RaiseAChild.US contributing writer David Humiston shares the story.

The Great Lesbian Couples Sperm Crisis

The Great Lesbian Couples Sperm Crisis

Semen is one of the most abundant resources on the planet. So why are lesbian couples facing a donor shortage?

Like most Canadian lesbians, Paula and Nicole sought out foreign semen when they wanted to have a child. They settled on a donor who looked like their favorite ’80s television star and, through some Internet sleuthing, found another local family on Facebook who had used the same donor. Then, when they were pregnant, they bumped into another queer couple at their prenatal class.“[W]e were just talking and realized that we used the same sperm donor and…their friends were actually the other couple we connected to [on Facebook],” Paula said, in a recent study by feminist legal theorist Stu Marvel in the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law.Now, Paula and Nicole—whose names Marvel changed for the study—know at least nine families in the province of Ontario who have used the same telegenic donor.

What are the odds? Not bad, it turns out. In her study, Marvel estimates in the study that children born through donor insemination in Canada could have anywhere from 100 to 615 half-siblings worldwide in an extreme case. In 2011, the National Post also reported that a single donor at ReproMed, Canada’s only national sperm bank, could potentially have up to 75 offspring in a city the size of Toronto.

Semen is one of the most abundant resources on the planet, with men producing an estimated 1,500 sperm cells every second. But in places like Canada and the U.K. where sperm donation is limited, family building is a unique logistical challenge, especially for lesbians.

Click here to read the entire article.


By Samantha Allen, September 7, 2015

Legal Surrogate: One Gay Couple’s Journey

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Legal Surrogate: Inside One Gay Couple’s Journey to Fatherhood

“Obviously, if you grow up with a great family that is supportive and shows unconditional love,” says Gonzalez. “That’s something that most people feel passionate about passing on themselves.”

The bigger question for the would-be dads was how they would go about having a baby.

Gonzalez, 37, is CEO of Barry’s Bootcamp, an international fitness boutique concept with locations throughout the United States and Europe. Rollo, also 37, is a chef, owner and founder of Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, a chain of organic restaurants in California. With 14 nieces and nephews between them, “we both have always wanted kids,” says Rollo of the couple, who split time between N.Y. and L.A.

Their desire launched them last year on an emotional journey through intense, complicated discussions focused on finding an egg donor and then a surrogate – discussions that put them at the front of two emerging trends.

From 2000 to 2010, the number of same-sex couples raising children more than doubled from 8 percent to 19 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And for those couples – as well as straight couples and single people both straight and gay – surrogacy is on the rise, says Stuart Bell, co-owner of Growing Generations, a California-based agency that assisted the couple.

And Why Their Legal Surrogate Wants to Fulfill Their Dream of Parenthood

“Twenty years ago, infertility was such a cross to bear,” says Bell. “There was kind of this shame around ‘I can’t have a baby.’ ” Although it’s still a topic of legal and political debate in parts of the country, surrogate contracts are now recognized in at least 17 states. And as surrogacy is discussed via social media, “Women now realize, ‘I’m not alone,’ ” he says.

Celebrity attention hasn’t hurt. Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband, Matthew Broderick, welcomed twins by surrogate, as did Neil Patrick Harris and his husband, David Burtka. “Mitt Romney’s son used a surrogate,” says Bell. “When we first started 20 years ago, we only worked in California. Now we work in 30 other states. Every year we see four or five new states come onboard. They are starting to understand that it’s not harming anyone involved. This is something that’s building families in a positive way.”

“As there’s more of us and we’re talking about this,” says Bell, himself a gay dad with a 7-year-old son via surrogate. “People are accepting it more.”

Researching Their Options

For those who want to be a surrogate, there are medical tests, psychological evaluations and background checks. Growing Generations – which doesn’t advertise but accepts online applications – says just 10 percent meet initial qualifications. From there only 1 or 2 percent proceed through review that looks for, among other qualities, empathy, stability and “women who like to be pregnant,” Bell says. “They know what it’s like to have children and how much it’s meant in their life, and getting to share that for another person is important for them.”