My wife and I started to discuss having children very early into our relationship. Back then gay marriage wasn’t legal and same-sex adoptions were not easily granted. That did not deter us from dreaming but most importantly planning. We knew we needed stability first; a house, marriage and financial security. Well we became home owners in 2012. We married in 2014 and by 2015 we had just the right amount of money in the bank to feel ready and secure. We had accomplished enough luxury travel as a childless couple for over 5 years. We were as ready as we could and wanted to be.
In our journey to conceive, our fertility clinic required we see an attorney to be educated on the laws of our state and how it implicated us and our donor. Upon meeting this family law attorney, we were bombarded with all these scenarios on “what if.” What if something happens to you? What if you get divorced? What if you decide to go after your donor for child support? One thing was clear and that was that my state like MANY others are almost solely DNA based. Meaning whoever has the childs DNA, has parental rights. I knew then we were going to go forward with second parent adoption after our son was born.
Second parent adoption also known as step parent adoption is when the legal spouse of a biological parent adopts the child. Now it’s important to add that my wife was on our baby’s birth certificate from day one. The hospital only cared if we were legally married and placed her named as the parent as well. Many people think this is enough. Well it is for doctors offices. Our pediatrician requested a copy to allow my wife to make decisions in our child’s health care such as vaccination signatures. It is sufficient enough to be a “legal guardian” for a school. It’s enough for health insurance. A passport for the child. Basically anything where a birth certificate proves you’re the parent.
Where is it not then you ask? Remember those scary what ifs? If God forbid something happened to me, before the adoption, the donor could have taken my wife to court and a simple DNA test would have ripped our child from her. If her and I divorced, I could have possibly prevented her from sharing custody, again with a simple DNA test. If for some insane reason, we decided we wanted child support, before the adoption we could have taken our donor to court and a simple DNA test could have taken 25% of his check. All cases vary and truly depends of the judge but we weren’t going to take that risk.
I must add we have a WONDERFUL friendship with our donor therefore in a million years we would never believe these scenarios would have become reality.
The process was VERY easy and simple. 1) First and foremost we hired a family attorney to represent us. Paid and signed contract up front. It was important for us to know everything was all-inclusive aandwe were not going to get random bills throughout the process. The original attorney from the fertility clinic wanted to charge $4,000 up front and depending on how many hours he spent on our case, he’d refund us some money back. How the heck do I know, much less verify how many hours was worked on our case! Yeah I looked elsewhere. Through my former company I located our attorney for much, MUCH less than that.
2) Have donors parental rights severed. He has to sign this off in the presence of a notary.
3) Paralegal is hired by attorney to pretty much to do all paperwork and leg work. She was wonderful! Provided us with a CPS background check form required for both of us and a fingerprint clearance card for my wife.
4) She submitted everything on our behalf once we signed them along with copies of our marriage license, and our baby’s birth certificate. She also requested for the home study to be waived. You are eligible for this if you’ve been married over a year and the child has been living with the second parent for over 6 months.
5) You receive a court hearing date! We arrived two months later with the guest of honor, our son, and joined our attorney and our lovely paralegal. To be honest, I wasn’t really nervous. Since DOMA was struck down, and our marriage was recognized nationwide and not just in NY, there wasn’t much threat of being shut down because we were more than fit parents. Noah did amazing! He smiled and waved at the judge, lol. The judge was lovely. The whole thing took 15 minutes and just like that my wife became his legal parent world-wide. Thank you Jesus.
The entire process only took about 5 months and we couldn’t have been more pleased. Please note this was our personal journey and I am not a lawyer therefore please still seek legal counsel especially pertaining to your state.
Feel free to share with anyone you believe will benefit from this information and if you have any questions on second parent adoption or need any referrals send me a comment below or email me. Link is in the home page.