Adoption and assisted reproduction attorney Victoria T. Ferrara, Esq. is the featured speaker for this Webinar to be presented on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 from 12PM to 1PM EDT
What options do gay and lesbian individuals and couples have when they’re ready to become parents, and what can they expect during the process? Which States have laws that are favorable for LGBT family building, and which present barriers? How does your state’s stance on same-sex marriage affect your legal parentage?
Gay parenting is here to stay. Families with gay parents are more present and visible in our communities than ever before. Especially since the Supreme Court’s decision in the Windsor case, striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and leading to federal recognition of same-sex marriages, LGBT parents are finding more support of family-building plans and more options to have children.
Medical technology for reproduction and IVF purposes is advancing to make surrogacy and surrogate parenting very available. Laws are evolving to allow for pre-birth orders of legal parentage for both genetic and non-genetic parents. In some States, a gay male couple that makes embryos from one father’s sperm can ensure that the other Intended Father is named as the legal parent prior to the birth. Thus both Intended Fathers will be legal parents at the time of the birth of their baby.
For example, in Connecticut, I handled the Supreme Court case of Raftopol v. Ramey, 12 A.3d 783 299 Conn. 681 (2011), that essentially created a new way to establish legal parentage in Connecticut, i.e., by being a party (Intended Parent) to a valid gestational agreement regardless of genetic connection to the child to be born to the gestational surrogate. This was a landmark decision paving the way for a legally safer environment for Intended Parents having children through surrogacy.
Further with gestational surrogacy, the surrogate mother is no longer carrying her own genetic child. This practice of a surrogate carrying her own genetic child is called traditional surrogacy and is rarely done because of the advancements in creating embryos and in IVF procedures, as well as in the advancements of the law. Gestational surrogacy brings couples having children through surrogacy into a significantly safer world where it is virtually impossible for a gestational surrogate to “keep” a baby.
LGBT women have it somewhat easier to have children in that most often, they do not need a surrogate. But even in this realm, medical technology and legal procedures are allowing for unique ways to have children. Some couples opt to make embryos from the eggs of one of the Intended Mothers, while the other non-genetic Intended Mother will become the birth mother. In this way, both Intended Mothers make a significant biological contribution to bringing the baby into the world.
It is still important for married same-sex couples to adopt the child that is born, ie the non-genetic parent or the non-birth parent should do a second parent adoption. This is because their marriages are still not recognized in States that do not allow same-sex marriage. Therefore, in those States, legal parentage arising as a result of the marriage will not be a protection to the non-biological or non-birth parent.
Of course, there is the opportunity for adoption. There are children in foster care, babies born to mothers on drugs, children in countries who are orphans or abandoned. To adopt a child is to receive a gift. It may certainly be one of the most life-changing, rewarding, incredible endeavors that a person can do in his or her life.
One of my children is adopted and I truly feel in my heart that adopting my son is the greatest thing I have done in my life.