LGBT Family Planning – The ABCs of Family Creation and Protection

LGBT Family Planning involves conscious decision making and careful preparation to ensure that your family is protected under existing laws, which are evolving every day.

LGBT family planning is crucial to provide the security that your family deserves.  While many more options exist for us to consider when creating our families, each one carries with it particular considerations which will inform and facilitate your choice.  Here are a few options:

Adoption

There are over 130 adoption agencies in New York State, and each of the 58 social services unit districts has an adoption unit. There are no fees for adopting children who have special needs or are in custody of the local social services commissioner, although there may be fees for adopting those children in the legal guardianship of local voluntary agencies. The fees are based on the adoptive family’s income, however, and help may be available in the form of grants or fee waivers, so don’t let finances put you off from looking into this as an option to start your family.LGBT family planning

After deciding on an agency, the application forms must be completed. Information is taken about your current family, your background and the type of child you feel you would be able to give the best life to. Criminal history checks will also be made, with particular attention paid to whether someone in the prospective adoptive family’s home has previous mistreated or neglected a child. A criminal record does not necessarily mean that you will be refused for adoption, as it depends on several factors including the type of crime committed.

Within four months of submitting the application, a home study is started and carried out on the prospective adoptive family. This is a series of meetings, training sessions and interviews that enables the family and social services to ascertain the readiness of the family to adopt, and any issues that they may need help with. After the home study has been completed the caseworker writes a summary about the family, which the adoptive couple can also add comments to. Training is also required to cover some areas that are specific to adoptive parenting, such as the needs of foster children and what kind of child they would be most suited to as a parent.  At this point, the couple, or individual, is considered “Pre-Certified” to adopt.

Once the study and summary are complete, the work then begins to match the family with a child. There is no set process for this as it is individual according to the child’s situation and needs. The Family Adoption Registry provides information about waiting children, and adoptive parents can ask for more information about children they are interested in, in exchange for a copy of the home study. The process goes from there and hopefully ends with a child or children finding a loving home with their new parents!

Children from a Pre-Existing Relationship

If you are in a relationship where your partner or spouse has a child from a pre-existing relationship, the process by which you may secure legal rights to the child is called Second or Step Parent Adoption.  If the child has another living legal parent, this process will require that the other parent either surrenders their parental rights to the petitioning parent, or that their rights are terminated by the Court.

Lesbian Couples and Sperm Donation

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

The key for a successful selection of a known donor depends on several factors, all personal to the couple or individual.  One crucial consideration for individuals considering a known donor is that the donor CANNOT surrender his parental rights and will be able to sue for custody and visitation to any child born through such an arrangement.  Each state has different laws, but most favor a child having two legal parents.

Lesbian couples considering a known donor should always enter into a Known Donor Agreement prior to any attempts at insemination.  This agreement will spell out the details of understanding between the intended parents and the donor, including the donor’s intent to surrender his parental rights to the non-birth mother.lgbt family planning

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

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

Surrogacy

Surrogacy is the process by which a woman carried the child, or children, of the intended parent/s.  Male couples often see this as the most viable method of LGBT family planning. 

Currently, only 5 states ban compensated surrogacy, New York being one of these states.  New York does allow for compassionate surrogacy, where the surrogate mother, or carrier, is not compensated for the risks, dedication and disruption to their lives when having a child for someone else.  Traditional surrogacy is where the surrogate mother, or carrier, is also the egg donor.  Gestational surrogacy is where a separate egg donor exists and the carrier has no biological relationship with the child born through surrogacy.surrogacy

It is imperative that if you choose surrogacy to help you have your family, that you do so in an ethical manner and make conscious choices about how to go about the process.  It is also a wise choice to research perspective agencies and fertility clinics thoroughly and ask a lot of questions.

Once your child is born through surrogacy, it is critical to secure the legal rights of the non-genetically related parent through both a pre or post birth order in the state where the child is born and a confirmatory second or step parent adoption back in the home state of the intended parents.  A pre or post birth order is a court order that terminates the parental rights of the surrogate mother and, in some states, establishes the rights of the intended parents.  There is evolving, and in some cases, conflicting, case law about whether the confirmatory adoption is required when a pre or post birth order exists; however, there is nothing more important than ensuring that your family is completely and securely protected.

Co-Parenting

Many single LGBT  and non-LGBT individuals are choosing to co-parent.  Co-parenting may be the latest frontier in the world of LGBT family planning This is defined as two individuals who are not in an emotional relationship, choose to raise a child together and share parenting responsibilities.  This process also requires a carefully considered Co-Parenting Agreement to spell out the intentions of the co-parents and their responsibilities to the child and to one another.  Many websites exist today to connect those interested in co-parenting but it is critical that anyone considering this option visit a family law attorney who is versed in the intricacies of co-parenting.

Once you have your family plan in place, remember to protect that family with careful and considered estate planning.  If unmarried, you may also consider the benefits of a pre-marital agreement to define separate and joint property.

LGBT family planning can take many forms.  With so many LGBT family planning options available to couples and individuals, take your time and figure out which one is right for you.  If you have any questions at all about these processes, please visit www.timeforfamilies.com or email me at Anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

 

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The 2015 MHB Brussels conference on Parenting Options for European Gay Men – highlights

Circle Surrogacy offers seminars in London and Stockholm for gay couples and singles

London and Stockholm seminars are offered in May about USA surrogacy options for gay couples and singles

Circle Surrogacy, one of the oldest and most experienced surrogacy agencies in the USA, is offering private consultations and informational seminars in London and Stockholm this month. The London seminar will be held at 2:30pm on May 16, and it is co-sponsored by Connecticut Fertility Associates. The seminar will feature a presentation by a lesbian surrogate mom from the USA who recently delivered a baby for a London couple, along with expert legal and medical advice, practical tips and contacts for gay and straight couples and singles. A similar seminar will be held in Stockholm on May 20, 6-8pm. Additional seminars and consultations are planned this year in Tel Aviv (June 12, in conjunction with Gay Pride), Montreal, New York, Atlanta and Madrid.

Circle Surrogacy is returning to London and Stockholm after holding six successful informational seminars in Europe and Israel over the last year. This time it will be presenting the innovative surrogacy programs it recently launched, such as “Guaranteed Baby” and more affordable surrogacy options with the use of an Egg Bank and Egg Sharing.

Circle Surrogacy has already helped bring to the world dozens of UK and Swedish babies, with just as many on the way. Many of these families will be attending reunion parties in London (also May 16) and Stockholm (May 19). The agency’s philosophy is to facilitate a circle of families who help create new families. The surrogate mothers who get accepted to Circle’s program are highly motivated to help prospective parents have children, and the agency assures that their spouses are also completely aboard with this endeavor. Circle is unique in its practice of also screening intended parents and making sure that they are willing to treat the egg donors (who sometimes are friends or family members) and surrogate mothers with the full respect and appreciation they deserve. Most of the people working at Circle are either parents through surrogacy, or former surrogates or egg donors themselves.

The AFA LGBT Professional Network

http://www.theafa.org/resources/lgbt_professional_network/all/category/attorney/

The American Fertility Association (The AFA) believes that the road to parenthood isn’t always straight.

As the nation’s leading patient advocacy organization, The AFA is dedicated to educating and supporting all men and women concerned with family building – including hopeful lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) parents.

The AFA’s LGBT Professional Network is comprised of two main sections: one for patients seeking referrals, and one for professionals with inclusive businesses that serve the LGBT community and wish to advertise those services.

For Patients:
Patients find the medical help they need in many ways, but unfortunately many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) patients still have difficulty locating health care and legal professionals that are sensitive to the special needs of the LGBT community who are seeking to build a family. To make this process easier, The American Fertility Association has developed an LGBT Professional Network.

This resource includes information about physicians, nurse practitioners, complimentary care providers, surrogacy, egg donation and sperm donation agencies, adoption agencies, lawyers, pharmacists and other professionals committed to assisting those in the LGBT community to create family and to deal with reproductive challenges. This directory will continue to grow, so please check back often!

Disclaimer

Please note that the information in this network does not constitute a recommendation to consult any specific professional. Although The AFA makes every attempt to keep the information on members accurate and up-to-date, The AFA cannot attest at all times to the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.  This information is provided for your reference, however, the responsibility for choosing a professional and checking their credentials to practice must remain that of the patient.

Attorney

Arkansas

Little Rock

Gary L. Sullivan, Esq.
Sullivan Law Firm, P.A.
400 W. Capitol Avenue
Suite 1700
Little Rock, AR 72201

Services Provided: Full service law firm working with LGBT clients in most practice areas.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (501) 374-7247
Fax: (501) 372-3482
Email: GLSullivan@aol.com
Web: http://members.aol.com/glsullivan

California

Lafayette

Diane Michelsen, Esq.
Diane Michelsen’s Family Formation Law Office
3190 Old Tunnel Road
Lafayette, CA 94549

Services Provided: Family Building Attorney. Works with the LGBT community, including single parents, adoption, gestational carriers or surrogacy for LGBT couples or individuals. Adoption legal services, including matching birthmothers with adoptive parents, excluding searching out birthmoms, surrogacy (gestational IVF only). All legal work for ART including surrogacy, embryo and ovum donors, sperm donors. All legal work for adoption, including second parent, domestic partner, adult child, step parent adoptions.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (925) 945-1880
Fax: (925) 933-6807
Web: http://www.lodm.com

Los Angeles

National Fertility Law Center, Inc.
5757 Wilshire Blvd.
Suite 645
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Services Provided: Nationwide network of licensed attorneys dedicated to providing legal services in the area of assisted reproduction. Uniquely structured so that couples and individuals of any sexual orientation who are creating families through surrogacy, egg donation, and sperm donation are offered unparalleled legal expertise, regardless of their geographical location. Services include: surrogacy contracts, egg donation contracts, sperm donation contracts, parentage judgments, co-parenting agreements, co-parent adoptions, healthcare durable powers of attorney, passports for international newborns, apostilled documents, trust account management.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (800) 558-4009
Fax: (800) 507-8085
Email: info@nationalfertilitylaw.com
Web: http://www.nationalfertilitylaw.com

Woodland Hills

Jamie Stroops, Esq.
Vorzimmer Masserman
5950 Canoga Avenue
Suite 130
Woodland Hills, CA 91367

Services Provided: Helps all types of people become parents through egg donation and surrogacy. Provides a caring and compassionate approach for clients.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (818) 999-1950
Email: jstroops@vmfirm.com
Web: http://www.vmfirm.com

Connecticut

Fairfield

Victoria T. Ferrara-Loris
Law Firm of Victoria T. Ferrara, PC
2150 Post Road
Fairfield, CT 06824

Services Provided: All legal services for contractual needs in the areas of egg donation, sperm donation, and surrogacy contracts, co-parent adoption, pre-birth orders, surrogacy matching
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (203) 255 9877
Email: vferrara@victoriaferrara.com
Web: http://www.assistedreproductionlaw.com

Florida

Jacksonville

Gordon T. Nicol, Esq.
Gordon T. Nicol, P.A.
8545 Centurian Parkway
Suite 108
Jacksonville, FL 32256

Services Provided: Legal services provided for Personal Injury, Family Law, Bankruptcy, Contracts, Wills & Trusts, Criminal & Traffic, Buying & Selling Real Estate, Immigration and Mediation.
Participant in Managed Care: Yes
Phone: (904) 384-4911
Fax: (904) 384-4944
Email: gordon@yourjacksonvillelawyer.com
Web: http://www.yourjacksonvillelawyer.com

Indiana

Monrovia

Steven C. Litz, Esq.
Surrogate Mothers, Inc.
P.O. Box 216
Monrovia, IN 46157

Services Provided: Surrogacy program that does not discriminate against clients based on race, marital status or sexual orientation. Provides alternatives to infertility such as surrogacy, adoption, egg donation.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (317) 996-2000
Email: scl@surrogatemothers.com
Web: http://www.surrogatemothers.com

Massachusetts

Wellesley

Amy Demma, J.D.
396 Washington Street
Suite 216
Wellesley, MA 02481

Services Provided: Counsel, guidance, advocacy regarding donor selection, matching, financials, medical/clinic and legal aspects of egg donation. Donor search, donor selection, donor matching, coordination with clinic, attorneys, escrow managers regarding all aspects of egg donation.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (781) 258-5149
Fax: (339) 686-3031
Email: amy.demma@prospectivefamilies.com
Web: http://www.prospectivefamilies.com

Minnesota

Eden Prairie

Maury D. Beaulier, Esq.
Hellmuth & Johnson, PLLC
10400 Viking Drive
Suite 500
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Services Provided: Surrogacy agreements, adoption, cohabitation agreements, custody and parenting disputes, partition actions. Legal services for businesses, construction law, family law, criminal defense, immigration.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (612) 240-8005
Fax: (952) 941-2337
Email: maury@beaulier.com
Web: http://www.hjlawfirm.com

Maple Grove

Steven H. Snyder, Esq.
Steven H. Snyder & Associates, Attorneys at Law
11270 86th Avenue North
Maple Grove, MN 55369

Services Provided: Legal services related to ART programs in Minnesota, including drafting agreements and conducting parentage proceedings for single parents and members of the LGBT community, including second-parent adoptions, etc. Surrogate and egg donation screening and matching, including insurance review, complete program scheduling and administration, fertility clinic selection, financial administration and legal documentation.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (763) 420-6700
Email: steve@snyderlawfirm.com
Web: http://www.snyderlawfirm.com

North Carolina

Charlotte

Connie J. Vetter, Esq.
4037 E. Independence Blvd.
Suite 565
Charlotte, NC 28205-0505

Services Provided: Focus on the legal needs of LGBT community. Surrogacy agreements, adoptions, represents GC in surrogacy agreements, LGBT estate documents, parenting documents, estate planning, etc. Ninety percent of clients are LGBT.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (704) 567-5530
Email: connievetter@cjvlaw.com
Web: http://www.cjvlaw.com

Durham

Sharon Thompson, Esq.
Sharon Thompson Law Group
400 West Main Street
Suite 502
Durham, NC 27701

Services Provided: All aspects of family law, including assisted reproduction, adoption, healthcare, powers of attorney, wills & estate planning. Works with two-mom, two-dad & single parent families, in addition to traditional married families. LGBT Family Law, Adoption, Estate Probate
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (919) 688-9646
Fax: (919) 683-1395
Email: stlawgroup@aol.com
Web: http://www.stlawgroup.com

Raleigh

Jeffrey G. Marsocci, Esq.
Law Offices of Jeffrey G. Marsocci, PLLC
8406 Six Forks Road
Suite 102
Raleigh, NC 27618

Services Provided: Estate and life planning, legal services for domestic partners and other non-traditional families through trusts, powers of attorney, wills, family limited partnerships and other means. Estate and trust planning, small business establishment, contracts, buy-sell agreements and other non-litigation matters.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (919) 844-7993
Web: http://www.livingtrustlawfirm.com

New Jersey

Haddon Township

Stephen J. Hyland, Esq.
Law Offices of Stephen J. Hyland
212 Haddon Avenue
Suite 1
Haddon Township, NJ 08108

Services Provided: Gay-owned practice helping same-sex couples build and secure their families through adoption, assisted reproduction, parenting agreements, judgments of parentage, estate planning, guardianship, civil unions, and related law. Member, New Jersey Civil Union Commission. Licensed to practice in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (856) 854-7600
Email: sjh@stephenhyland.com
Web: http://www.stephenhyland.com

Park Ridge

Melissa B. Brisman, Esq.,
Melissa B. Brisman, Esq., LLC
77 Market Street
2nd Floor
Park Ridge, NJ 07656

Services Provided: Works with same-sex, single and heterosexuals on adoptions, 2nd parent and co-parent adoptions, birth orders, insurance reviews and appeals. Locate egg donors and gestational carriers; egg, sperm and embryo donation, gestational carrier contracts, organize homestudies and criminal background checks, name changes and escrow account services.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (201) 505-0078
Fax: (201) 505-1994
Email: melissab@reproductivelawyer.com
Web: http://www.reproductivelawyer.com

New Mexico

Santa Fe

Ami Jaeger
Biolaw Group, LLC
7 Avenue Vista Grande
Suite 205
Santa Fe, NM 87508

Services Provided: Does not discriminate based on any orientation, religion, ethnicity, etc. Known donor, anonymous donor, gc and surrogacy arrangements, finalization of birth certificates, consulting and advice of legal issues on ART, adoption, step-parent adoption, insurance coverage questions.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (505) 466-4642
Fax: (505) 466-2818
Email: asj@bio-law.com
Web: http://www.bio-law.com

New York

Rockville Centre and New York City

Anthony M. Brown, Esq.
Albert W. Chianese & Associates, PC
100 Merrick rd., Ste. 103E
Rockville Centre, NY 11570

122 E. 42nd St., Ste. 3900, New York, NY 10168

Services Provided: Trusts. estates and family law for nontraditional families. Wills, trusts, second parent adoption, partnership agreements, parenting agreements, dispute resolution and donor counseling (legal).
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (516) 599-2020
Fax: (516) 599-6476
Email: brown@awclawyer.com
Web: https://www.timeforfamilies.com

Nanuet

Laurie B. Goldheim, Esq.
Law Offices of Laurie B. Goldheim
20 Old Nyack Turnpike
Suite 300
Nanuet, NY 10954

Services Provided: Represents single couples, couples (heterosexual and homosexual) in private domestic adoption.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (845) 624-2727
Fax: (845) 624-8400
Email: lgoldheim@adoptionrights.com
Web: http://www.adoptionrights.com

Rochester

Lawrence Krieger, Esq.
The Wilder Building
8 Exchange Blvd.
Suite 400
Rochester, NY 14614

Services Provided: Co-parenting agreements, fertility related family law, second parent adoption, gay friendly general practice of law, domestic partnership planning.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (585) 325-2640
Fax: (585) 325-1946
Email: larry@kriegerlaw.net
Web: http://www.kriegerlaw.net

Rye Brook

Michael S. Goldstein, Esq.
Michael S. Goldstein, P.C.
62 Bowman Avenue
Rye Brook, NY 10573

Services Provided: Single, dual and second parent adoptions. Domestic, agency, international, readoption and foster care.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (914) 939-1111
Fax: (914) 939-2369
Email: info@adoptgold.com
Web: http://www.adoptgold.com

Yorktown Heights

Denise Seidelman, Esq.
Rumbold & Seidelman
1145 Baldwin Road
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598

Services Provided: Adoption – for both single parents and same sex couples, second parent adoptions, egg donation agreements, sperm donor agreements, reproductive law
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (914) 962-3001
Fax: (914) 962-1707
Email: dseidelman@adoptionlawny.com
Web: http://www.adoptionlawny.com

Pennsylvania

Allentown

Kate Lynn, Esq.
Law Offices of Kate Lynn, P.C.
The Sovereign Building
609 Hamilton Mall
Suite 1
Allentown, PA 18101-2111

Services Provided: Second parent adoption, LGBT estate planning (wills, trusts, powers of attorney, living wills), living together contracts & separation agreements. Full service lesbian-owned law firm.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (610) 435-7770
Fax: (610) 419-4699
Email: kate@katelynnlaw.com
Web: http://www.katelynnlaw.com

Philadelphia

Tiffany L. Palmer, Esq.
Jerner & Palmer, P.C.
5401 Wissahickon Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19144

Services Provided: Assisted reproductive technology law, LGBT family law, adoption, estate planning for LGBT families.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (215) 843-6000
Fax: (215) 843-6006
Email: tpalmer@jplaw.com
Web: http://www.jplaw.com

Tennessee

Brentwood

Julia J. Tate, J.D., L.C.S.W.
5606 Cloverland Drive, #107
Brentwood, TN 37027

Services Provided: Provides legal services to people forming families through ART and those assisting them. Works with egg donors, surrogates, and intended parents. Clients include married couples, single people, as well as gay and lesbian couples and individuals.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (615) 783-2892
Email: Julia@TNBabyLaw.com
Web: http://TnBabyLaw.com

Kingsport

Elizabeth L. McConnell, Esq.
Elizabeth L. McConnell Attorney At Law
222 1/2 E. Center Street
P.O. Box 85
Kingsport, TN 37662

Services Provided: Any and all aspects of general civil practice. Helps many gay and lesbian couples with wills, general durable powers of attorney, guardianships, long wills, social security and SSI, partnership agreements and dissolution of same, etc. Name changes for transgendered clients.
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (423) 246-4416
Email: EMcConnellLaw@aol.com

Texas

Carrollton

Arthur H. Geffen, Esq.
1620 East Beltline Road
Carrollton, TX 75006

Services Provided: Business organizations, estate planning, tax
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: (972) 242-8887
Fax: (972) 446-7976
Email: ageffen@iadfw.net

Virginia

Fairfax

Sheri Abrams, Esq.
Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law
10467 White Granite Drive
Suite 360
Oakton, VA 22124

Services Provided: Social Security Disability Law, Special Needs Planning, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Special Needs Trusts, Guardianship, Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney
Participant in Managed Care: No
Phone: 571-328-5795
Fax:
Email: sheri@sheriabrams.com
Web: http://www.sheriabrams.com