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04/19/2007


Denial of ‘Second Parent’ Adoption Puts Same-Sex Couples Parental Rights in Jeopardy

BY RICHARD VAUGHN and ARI EZRA WALDMAN

Earlier this month, in a ruling that rocked the worlds of same-sex couples and attorneys alike, a Brooklyn court denied the non-biological mother of a child born to a married lesbian couple the right to legally adopt her child.

VaughnThis seemingly arcane quadrant of family law matters because this process of adoption has, traditionally, been the only legal tool protecting gay families when they travel to marriage discrimination states. A biological parent has parental rights, obviously. But her non-married cohabitant, which is how marriage discrimination states look at same-sex spouses, is not considered a parent. She is considered a stranger even though she helps feed, raise, and care for the child.

But in a world of marriage equality, this form of adoption seems unnecessary. Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court Judge Margarita López Torres reasoned that New York recognizes the couple’s marriage and the names of both mothers appear on the child’s birth certificate. Thus, the judge wrote in her decision, the non-biological mother is already the legal parent of her child.

The “purpose and effect" of adoption is “…to create a new legal relationship where one did not previously exist. Adoption is not utilized for, nor…is it available to reaffirm, an already existing parent/child relationship.”

That makes sense. But, as we discuss below, the decision represents ideals over reality and endangers families run by same-sex couples.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Denial of ‘Second Parent’ Adoption Puts Same-Sex Couples Parental Rights in Jeopardy" »


Gay Israeli Couple Asks the Internet's Help to Have a Baby: VIDEO

Israelicouple

Yuval and Liran, a gay Israeli couple, tells the story of their unsuccessful attempt at having a child with an international surrogate (since surrogacy is banned in Israel) and solicits help via the internet through a YouTube clip and a donation site.

Write the couple: "We're trying to save money for the surrogacy process and just can not. The State of Israel is sending thousands of couples like us to proceedings abroad that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and require you to stop your life during this journey. We are proud people but for the child, for the most important thing in life we have to ask for your help and hope our action will promote a change in legislation in Israel. for the benefit of thousands of others."

Watch their plea, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Israeli Couple Asks the Internet's Help to Have a Baby: VIDEO" »


Elton John and David Furnish Debut New Son Elijah

Elijah_eltonjohn

Elton John and David Furnish debut their new son Elijah for People:

John and Furnish intend to be open with both their boys about the circumstances of their births (they also used the same egg donor and, as with Zachary, did not want to find out which of them is their son’s biological father).

“We kept a scrapbook for Zachary with all his scans, emails with the surrogate and key moments from the surrogacy, and we are doing the same for Elijah,” explains Furnish. “We want the boys to understand the spirit and love that was at the heart of the process.”

For the next few months, the family of four will live in L.A. before returning to their “light, bright room filled with toys and books,” says Furnish, in their main home in Windsor, England.


Norway's Crown Princess Flew to India, Posed as Nanny to Care for Gay Employee's Twins Born to Surrogate

Norway's Crown Princess Mette-Marit went the extra mile for a gay palace employee who could not get a travel visa to care for his infant twins born to a surrogate mother in India, Reuters reports:

Mette-maritArmed with a diplomatic passport that granted her immediate access, the future queen jumped on a plane in late October when the employee, who is also a friend, and his husband were unable to travel to care for their newborns.

"For me, this is about two babies lying alone in a New Delhi hospital," Mette-Marit said in a statement. "I was able to travel and wanted to do what I could."

She did not alert Indian authorities and spent several days with the babies at the Manav Medicare Centre, where staff assumed the wife of Norway's Crown Prince Haakon was a nanny.

A relative of one of the fathers eventually took over while the palace kept her absence under wraps. Said Mette-Marit: "Sometimes life presents you with situations with few good solutions. This was one of those."


Elton John and David Furnish Expecting Second Child

Elton John and David Furnish are expecting their second child, UK tabloid The Sun reports:

Furnish_johnA surrogate for the Rocket Man singer and hubby David is due to give birth next year, The Sun can exclusively reveal. Last night a source close to the pair said: “Elton and David love this lady like a sister and they feel indebted to her for life. Naturally she has been well rewarded. But her identity will never be revealed.” The mum — believed to have been recruited via the Center for Surrogate Parenting in Encino, California — is said to be already “several months” pregnant. Zachary will have turned two by the time his sibling arrives.


Another Look at ‘The New Normal’ and the Road to Becoming a Parent through Surrogacy

Nn1

BY JOHN WELTMAN

A surrogacy expert's continuing look at issues in NBC's 'The New Normal'.

“So… this baby is going to be the greatest thing that ever happened to us, right?” Bryan asks David in this week's episode of The New Normal. “It’s our little miracle. So when can we start enjoying it?”

Having a baby means embracing some uncertainty. It’s one of the most important events in a parent’s life, and yet, it is impossible to predict exactly how it will play out. This goes for straight couples, who conceive with or without the use of assisted reproductive technology, as well as for gay couples. And it holds especially true for those who have children through surrogacy.

David and Bryan show two different approaches to handling this uncertainty. Excited and eager to move forward and get ready for their future child, Bryan buys baby clothes before the first ultrasound. David—unsurprisingly, the measured doctor—is more cautious, reminding Bryan of all the remaining pregnancy tests and of their agreement not to buy any clothes before all they have received the results.

Here are two different responses, both reasonable. David is right to exercise caution. Pregnancy is unpredictable. For those who pursue surrogacy or utilize in vitro fertilization, there is no guarantee that a given embryo transfer will be successful. There is no guarantee that an egg retrieval will yield a sufficient number of quality eggs. Sometimes, there is a need to make adjustments along the way. Communication with an IVF physician can help couples who choose surrogacy understand the big picture.

At the same time, too much caution can stifle the joy of the surrogacy experience. Taking time to enjoy the process is important, as David comes to realize as the episode draws to a close. “So, even though it’s not going to be easy, I need to try to celebrate the wins,” he tells Bryan. “Like when we heard that heartbeat yesterday, I don’t think I’ve ever loved you more, because that—that was the sound of our family.” The depiction of love between the intended fathers in this moment is perhaps the most poignant and genuine we have seen in the show thus far.

KissAt the opposite extreme of the emotional spectrum is the scene in the store. While they are shopping with Goldie and Shania, Bryan and Davis share a kiss. A man walking by with his family asks them to stop, and calls them “disgusting.” David wants to ignore him, but Bryan responds, “Thanks for your intolerance and your bigotry and for fostering this ignorance in another generation.” The message was clear enough that the collective social conscience of much of the world hasn’t advanced as quickly as the scientific and medical achievement that has made surrogacy possible.

The scene brings up the issue of how gay couples should respond to ignorance and how, as parents, we need to address intolerance when our children are faced with it just because they have two dads or two moms. Bryan is concerned about how he and David will respond when their child faces the same bigotry they experienced in the store.

My husband and I shared these concerns. These are good conversations to have. We were worried that our children would be bullied for having gay fathers. Surprisingly, in the eighteen years since we had our first child through surrogacy, we have rarely found the prejudice we anticipated. We’ve been fortunate. We have supportive families, friends, and some of the best neighbors in the world. My hope is that every LGBT family should be so fortunate, but this is sadly not the case.

Gay couples considering having children should anticipate all of these issues. The surrogacy process has highs and lows. And these highs and lows continue after the birth. Gay couples in the process of becoming parents through surrogacy should talk about how they will address bullying and prejudice, and intolerance should they come up.

Before Cliff and I had children, we went to a lecture given by April Martin, who wrote the Lesbian and Gay Parenting Handbook. She said her kids had learned the “stupid” lesson: some people (the bigoted ones, of course) are just plain stupid. Try it. It helps and it works when it comes to keeping kids confident on themselves and on their families. 

 

John Weltman is the president and founder of Circle Surrogacy and an expert in assisted reproductive technology law. He and his husband are the fathers of two sons, 18 and 17, through surrogacy.  They were the first in America to have two children through surrogacy, one from each dad, through the same surrogate mom. 

Have your children experienced bigotry because of their gay parents? What are your strategies for addressing it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Earlier in this series...
Surrogacy Expert Weighs in on 'The New Normal' [tlrd]


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