Our Experience with Second Parent Adoption (and Why It's Important)

Those who follow me on Twitter know that my wife Jen and I just completed the second parent adoption process for our son, Patrick.  He was born on Oct. 31, 2010.

Let me explain a little bit about what this means.

Jen and I were legally married in Massachusetts.  Our marriage is only valid in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Iowa and D.C. (the other states where same-sex marriage is legal), and a couple of other random states.  According to the U.S. federal government and all those other states, we are not legally married.  According to most countries in the world, we are not legally married.

Patrick was born in Boston and Jen carried and delivered the baby.  She was the "bio-parent" though I was right there when he was born and my name is on his birth certificate.  However, because our marriage is not recognized most places in the world, neither are my rights to be his parent.  That's why we had to go through this process called "second parent adoption" - in which I basically adopt my own son.  This process took 10 months waiting for a court date and $2000 in legal fees before we saw a judge for 2 minutes.  Now it's over and we're happy!

If a same-sex couple doesn't do second parent adoption this can get really ugly in the following scenarios (among others):

  • If there's a divorce or break-up, the non-bio parent may have no rights no visitation or custody
  • If the bio-parent died, the non-bio parent may have no rights to his or her child (who would probably be placed with the bio-parent's parents)
  • If the bio-parent and the baby are in an accident, the non-bio parent may have no access to them in the hospital.
I think you get the idea.  Anyway, if you are planning to have kids, it's really important that you protect your family and go through this process (and the other estate planning processes).  Marriage isn't enough! We were thrilled with our lawyer, Claire DeMarco and if you are outside New England, you can find family law attorneys through www.lambdalegal.org.

Any questions?  Happy to answer!
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