dinsdag, mei 31, 2005

Surrogacy

In the US, a large portion of my practice involved aspects of gay and lesbian law. Part of that was adoption and surrogacy - one of my favorite areas of law.

It was great working with the expectant Dads, but it was an even more incredible privilege to meet and work with the surrogates who carried these children. They all had something in common - I'm not sure exactly what it was, but in a previous era they would have been those women who had 12 - 15 kids and took care of them all while their husbands worked in the fields. "Good settler stock" is what my Great-grandpa would have probably called it. I could imagine them crossing oceans and prairies and starting families in difficult, new lands.

I was amazed when I ran into these women in my practice. I sometimes asked them how they decided to carry children that were not biologically theirs for gay parents. Most people assume it's for the money. Trust me, it's not. They just weren't paid that much. The most common response was that they loved their children so much (they all had at least one child - usually more), and they wanted to help bring this gift to someone who wasn't able to have their own. They specifically did searches to find an organization that helped gay men or gay couples looking to have a child, they told me, because they thought it would be most difficult for them to have a child any other way. I never had a bad experience helping these surrogates and the families that raised the children that were born from these arrangements.

That's not to say there weren't heartaches - sometimes a child was born too early and was lost. Most often, there were multiple births. It was especially wrenching when a couple lost their triplets shortly after birth. Discrimination was added to their loss when the local funeral home became overly involved in the "alternative parentage issue." The adoptive couple didn't give up, and are now proud and happy dads.

The following story, Surrogate Mothers' New Niche: Bearing Babies for Gay Couples - New York Times, came out in the NY Times a couple of days ago. One of the companies I worked with, Growing Generations, is mentioned in the article.

It's an interesting field, legally speaking. In the US, gays' unions aren't generally recognized by the State, but adoption is OK. In Europe, some form of partner recognition is generally recognized by the State, but it's more difficult to adopt and raise children. Draw your own conclusions...

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