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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Becoming a Parent, Legally.

Since my post on "paternity" leave was popular, we also wanted to talk about the extra steps we will have to take to ensure I am officially recognized as Ella's parent.

Here's a little 411 on the situation. Since we are lucky enough to be legally married in the state of Massachusetts and our anonymous donor relinquished his parental rights way before we ever had anything to do with his DNA, I am automatically considered Ella's second parent because I'm married to her biological mother. This would be the case even if I was a man, married to a woman who was impregnated with donor sperm (or sperm from a man who relinquished his rights). Anyway, I'm on Ella's birth certificate so that's all good. I carry her birth certificate with me all the time, just in case. Do I wish I didn't have to? Yes. Am I grateful that I can? Yes.

Sometimes, what gay rights feel like...
The problem is that not every state and country recognizes our marriage, therefore they might not recognize my parental status either. If we were traveling to or through a state in which our marriage isn't recognized and (God forbid) something happened to Kate, I would technically have no right to Ella. This sounds crazy, but if you look around the internet just a little bit, you'll find lots of horror stories. Most of these stories include crazy grandparents who refuse to let the non-bio mom have custody of the child, which I'm quite sure would not happen in my case, but if it comes down to a time sensitive decision, I want to be the one to make it, no questions asked. I should also say that we have wills in place that would make all of this clear, regardless of my legal status. We feel like we just can't be too careful.

Enter the second parent adoption (SPA). Thankfully, with a little bit of paperwork and a couple of bucks for a notary, I can complete a petition to adopt Ella. Here's a public service announcement for any other same sex parents out there- you don't need a lawyer to complete a SPA. Save yourself the couple thousand dollars in fees (!!) and fill out the paperwork yourself. It's really not that hard. A lawyer I contacted about doing it for us told me, honestly, we didn't need him. Now if a lawyer is telling you that you don't need a lawyer...

So anyway, we're almost done getting all the paperwork together and we'll submit it to the courts ASAP and get a hearing date a few weeks after that. I am both grateful to have the opportunity to
adopt Ella and heartsick that I have to. From the first moment I met her there was no doubt in my mind: she is mine, I am hers. I assume her adoption day will feel like any other day in the life we share together (eat, poop, sleep), except afterwards we could travel to Kentucky together, if we so chose. Yee-haw!

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