Sunday, May 9

The world is changing for same-sex parents, and this week I made history | Parents and parenting

SUBWAYHer unborn child has no name yet, but he has already had his first court hearing. On Monday, my partner, E, and I made (minor) history when we became the first couple in New York to receive a prenatal paternity order under a new set of laws. protect same-sex families. Due to the pandemic, we had our court hearing virtually, which means that I officially became a mother in Microsoft Teams. As he had always dreamed he would do! You know how babies born on airplanes sometimes turn free airline tickets for life? Well, I think I deserve at least a lifetime subscription to Microsoft Office.

You may be wondering what exactly a prenatal paternity order is. The situation is this: E is giving birth in a few weeks to a baby that we plan to have. After long discussions along the lines of “your uterus or mine?”, We decided that she would be the one to carry. We chose a sperm donor together. We pay together for the sperm (very expensive) and several rounds of artificial insemination. We went to medical appointments together. We brainstormed names, and so far we haven’t been able to decide on one, together. The baby may not be genetically mine, but, in our hearts and minds, we are parents equal to the One who has not yet been named. However, in the eyes of the law, it is more complicated. We can both be listed as parents on the birth certificate but, as a non-gestational mother, my rights are not 100% clear.

Until very recently, lesbian parents in New York had to go through the adoption of a second parent to ensure greater legal recognition for the non-biological mother. That’s a exhausting process: it can take a year and cost thousands in legal fees. It’s also incredibly invasive – you need to list all the places you’ve lived in the last 28 years, provide fingerprints for a background check, have a home visit from a social worker, and more. You also can’t start the adoption process until the baby is born, which means you can be trapped in legal limbo if a medical emergency occurs during delivery. However, fortunately for us, a new law went into effect in February that streamlines this process. All you need to do now is obtain several notarized documents and appear before a judge; You can do all of this before the baby is born, although it took about 57 phone calls to different people in the court system until we established that this was the case.

New York is not the only place that has recently brought family law into the 21st century. Last month, two Cork women became first same-sex couple in Ireland be legally recognized as parents on their children’s birth certificates. Unfortunately, not everyone has it that easy. The EU court of law is deliberating on the case of a child born to Bulgarian and British lesbian mothers in Spain: the baby is at risk of being stateless because same-sex relationships are not legally recognized in Bulgaria and the child cannot obtain British citizenship from the other mother. TO Namibia Court He also refuses to give a gay man emergency travel documents so that he can bring his daughters, born to a surrogate mother in South Africa, back home.

The hearing in which I was allowed to parent my unborn child lasted less than 10 minutes, but it took a long time to prepare. When I came out almost 20 years ago, the Netherlands was the only place in the world where same-sex marriage was legal. Now I can marry the person I love in our respective home countries, the UK and the US, and have our son legally recognized as belonging to both. I don’t take any of that for granted. Love can make a family, but legal recognition makes having a family so much easier.

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