Weren’t second-parent adoptions granted in Washtenaw County a few years ago? Second parent adoptions are legal by court decision or statute in California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont Second-parent adoptions have been granted in some counties in at least 15 other states. See Schacter, Constructing Families in a Democracy: Courts, Legislatures and Second-Parent Adoptions, 75 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 933, 934 (2000). Most of the states that allow second-parent adoptions also permit joint adoptions. In four states, Colorado, Ohio, Nebraska, and Wisconsin, appellate courts have ruled that second-parent adoptions aren’t legal. [See the ABA position paper for cites, link below]
In a case discussed on April 11, 2005 on the Michigan Family Secton’s Law ListServ, the issue was whether a woman donating eggs so that her lesbian partner could bear children through artificial insemination, was a legal parent. People acting as sperm and ovum donors are allowed by a state law to avoid as a legal parent. Thus, when lesbian partners in San Francisco used the donated eggs of one partner so that the other could conceive using donated sperm, a standard ovum donor consent form was signed by one of the women. The form contains words to the effect that the person signing it waives his or her parental rights.
K.M. and E.G., in California, successfully co-parented twin girls for eight years prior to their separation. Then the birth mother claimed that she was the sole parent. Appealing a lower court decision, K.M., the non-birth parent, claimed that her signature on the form did not constitute a waiver of parental rights because she was “an intended parent” not a donor, either as defined by a statute or by the parties’ intentions.
The evidence presented in this case showed that K.M. certainly was an intended parent. The conception was a complicated and undoubtedly very expensive process: K.M.’s eggs were implanted many times in her partner E.G., who was finally successfully inseminated. In addition, K.M.
(1) attended all of E.G.’s prior inseminations;
(2) took care of E.G. after all of her inseminations;
(3) jointly chose the sperm donor,
(4) participated in the decision to have a reduction procedure – leaving twins;
(5) was present at the birth of the twins;
(6) jointly chose the twins names and each girl was given as a middle name the names of one of the two partners
K.M. and E.G. represented themselves to hospital staff as the two parents of the twins and the hospital birth records chronicle an extensive history of "two moms." Subsequently, K.M. and E.G. took the twins home to the home that they shared and jointly cared for the children. Both girls viewed K.M. as one of their two parents. [They called each female Mommy – KM being called “Mommy K” or “Boss Mommy.”]
This is another one of those sad cases resulting from disruption of substantial parental bonds after gay parents separate and one claims sole parentage [or is it “ownership”?] of the children conceived through artificial insemination, proving once again that there are many family law cases where there is no winner . . . everyone loses.
More information on the status of second-parent and joint adoptions is available on the Internet. Among valuable resources are the following:
An amici brief filed by a coalition of organization supporting parental rights in non-traditional families can be read on the website of Lambda Legal.
An ABA position paper supports state and territorial laws and court decisions that permit the establishment of legal parent-child relationships through joint adoptions and second-parent adoptions by unmarried persons who are functioning as a child’s parents when such adoptions are in the best interests of the child.
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