An LGBTQ Web of Love
In my previous blog, I discussed LGBTQ adoption on a broad level. I discussed some of the difficulties that LGBTQ couples face when going through the adoption process and offered some advice on how to alleviate some of these difficulties. This time, I want to talk about adoption on a more micro level by sharing a story of a same-sex adoption case that created a unique family tree and a web of love made that was made possible through the LGBTQ community.
In this case, I represented two gay women, Julie and Karen, who wanted a child. Julie and Karen were very close with a gay male friend, Jeff, who agreed to be their sperm donor. Jeff was also in a committed relationship, and his partner Michael gave his blessing on the sperm donation. Julie carried Jeff’s child and after the birth of the child, Karen went through the adoption process to become the child’s mother.
Ordinarily, when a couple is artificially inseminated with a donor sperm, the sperm is purchased at a sperm bank. In this unusual case, Jeff and both women using a kit purchased at a drug store performed the insemination at home. Afterwards, my clients prepared and executed an Affidavit confirming the steps taken, such as the date of the insemination and how it was inseminated. The next necessary step taken was for Jeff to complete a formal “Consent to Adoption.” This form acknowledged Jeff’s paternity and his agreement to the adoption by terminating his parental rights.
The adoption hearing was an outpouring of love for this child. Julie, Karen, Julie’s parents, Karen’s parents, Jeff, Michael, Jeff’s mother and Michael’s biological son were all in attendance. Further, Jeff had previously donated sperm twice to a woman who was a friend of Julie’s. That friend was there with her two daughters (who were the baby’s biological sisters). All told, there were two parents, three sets of grandparents, a biological father and his partner, two biological sisters, and an array of supportive friends to welcome this child into a her new family.
I believe it is important for gay couples to remember the truly rare kind of love that a child adopted into a LGBTQ community will experience throughout their life. Many adoption hearings are joyous occasions. This one had a special feel to it though, and the knowledge that Julie and Karen’s family had grown in more ways than one put a smile on every face in the courtroom.
The couple and all involved would tell you how wonderful this situation has been for them but I must warn that this was a rare and special case. There are many risks involved and I would never recommend to clients that they handle an adoption the way my clients did, especially without a lawyer. This was a highly unusual case where the women and donor involved were very close friends and completely trusted each other. This could have gone very wrong and Jeff could have withdrawn his consent causing delays and difficulty in the process.
Ordinarily, a couple chooses their sperm donor through a catalog that details the donor’s physical and emotional qualities, special abilities, educational background, and other relevant factors and selects the donor having the qualities they are looking for. They then contact the sperm bank and arrange for the sperm to be sent to their OB/GYN for implantation. Under these circumstances, there is no alleged father who needs to give his consent to the adoption, thereby removing the risk of a donor changing his mind during the adoption process.
In sum, celebrate your families and know that there are many ways to build a family of your own, but please remember that seeking legal advice to protect you, your partner, and your child’s best interest is key — especially for same-sex couples in today’s world.
Ellen S. Fischer of the Law Office of Ellen S. Fischer has been working closely with individuals and families throughout the greater Philadelphia region for more than 20 years. Ellen received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Temple University and returned to earn a Juris Doctor degree from the Temple University School of Law. Ellen serves on a number of leadership committees and is a member of Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia (GALLOP). In addition to LGBTQ services, Ellen's practice areas are family law and personal injury.