Showing posts with label Gay Adoption. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Adoption. Show all posts

February 2, 2020

The Extreme Way To Fatherhood For Gay Men In China









Zeyi Yang


Before Qiguang Li could pass through customs and step onto U.S. soil for the first time, he faced three-hour detention where he learned that he needed to be more candid about his identity. It was September 2015, after a long flight from Shanghai to Los Angeles. Li came with another man, Wei Xu, who asked a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer whether the two of them could go through the border screening together. "What's your relationship?" asked the officer. They said they were friends. "Then you can't."

So, Xu went first and passed the screening. He forgot one important thing though: Li's travel documents were in Xu's bag. Li, 37 at the time, spoke poorer English and couldn't properly explain to the officer what had happened. After a while of anxious waiting, Xu returned to the checkpoint to look for Li, still unaware of his mistake, and they were both sent to a room for additional screening.

In the secondary screening room — commonly referred to by Chinese travelers as the "small dark room" — Xu and Li waited almost three hours, believing that they would be denied entry. An officer asked them why one's documents were in the hands of the other. Xu kept explaining that they were very close friends, until at one point the officer asked, "Are you, two partners?"
"Yes," Xu admitted. 

And then everything changed. Xu learned that if they had said they were partners from the beginning, they would have been allowed to go through border control together, avoiding all the drama. "But we felt kind of ashamed to say that," he recalls.

The unexpected incident was the prelude to a carefully planned trip into another country where their sexuality was much more accepted than at home. There were a few other things they didn't mention to the CBP officers. Li and Xu, a gay couple who have been together since 2007, would walk out of the airport, get married two days later in Los Angeles, and, more important, start their journey toward parenthood.

From 2015 to 2018, Li and Xu made four transpacific trips as part of their gestational surrogacy processes. They traveled nearly 50,000 miles, spent more than $200,000, and went through countless days of distress, all to fulfill the dream of having their own family.

An increasing number of Chinese gay men, like Li and Xu, are traveling thousands of miles and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to pursue a dream that is impossible at home. Like Li and Xu, many of them refer to their surrogacy process as their "journey."
Xu and Li met in Shanghai on November 15, 2007. They both grew up in rural China before moving to big cities. They'd chatted online and had a few phone calls, but when they met in person, it was love at first sight. By 2014 they owned two properties together and had just started a small business, a dry cleaner in Shanghai. Because gay couples are not allowed to marry or adopt in China, they started thinking about surrogacy. Li was 36; Xu had just turned 30.

For this story, I spoke to a dozen gay Chinese men who have begun or completed surrogacy in the United States. Almost all of them started considering it between the ages of 30 and 40, and they often discussed how one needs to be extremely devoted to the idea of having his own child before embarking on the lengthy and often excruciating surrogacy journey. But they also often mentioned mianzi, the nuanced Chinese concept that literally translates to "face" but also means social standing and dignity. Li says that for many gay men, the strong push for babies comes from the elder generation. The social and cultural norm in China, inherited from thousands of years of patriarchal traditions, is that having a descendant of your own blood is necessary for a good life. Although this idea is under fierce attacks from some in China's younger generation, it still resonates with many young Chinese people, including some gay men who are asked, or volunteer, to have a child to protect the mianzi of their parents and themselves.



Xu, left, and Li's wedding day in Los Angeles, 2015. | (Quiguang Li and Wei/Courtesy Narratively)

For some of the parents, that means going as far as pushing their sons into the surrogacy journey. David Wang, a single, gay man of 28, living in the southwestern province of Sichuan, says it took years for his parents to accept his sexuality after he came out in 2013. But once they had, his parents offered to pay for all of the expenses of surrogacy — if he would start as soon as possible.
"My parents' main argument was that they don't want me to end up aging alone," says Wang, who was single and hesitant at the time. He eventually conceded to his parents' wishes and made it through the bumpy surrogacy journey as a single father. In February 2019, Wang and his mother flew to Atlanta to be at the birth of his son and take him back home.

Dr. Guy Ringler, a physician with California Fertility Partners, tours in China to give medical consultations about surrogacy. His patients include one of the country's most influential gay figures, Ma Baoli, founder of the world's biggest gay dating app, Blued. Before Qiguang Li could pass through customs and step onto U.S. soil for the first time, he faced three-hour detention where he learned that he needed to be more candid about his identity. It was September 2015, after a long flight from Shanghai to Los Angeles. Li came with another man, Wei Xu, who asked a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer whether the two of them could go through the border screening together. "What's your relationship?" asked the officer. They said they were friends. "Then you can't."
So, Xu went first and passed the screening. He forgot one important thing though: Li's travel documents were in Xu's bag. Li, 37 at the time, spoke poorer English and couldn't properly explain to the officer what had happened. After a while of anxious waiting, Xu returned to the checkpoint to look for Li, still unaware of his mistake, and they were both sent to a room for additional screening.
In the secondary screening room — commonly referred to by Chinese travelers as the "small dark room" — Xu and Li waited almost three hours, believing that they would be denied entry. An officer asked them why one's documents were in the hands of the other. Xu kept explaining that they were very close friends, until at one point the officer asked, "Are you, two partners?"
"Yes," Xu admitted. 

And then everything changed. Xu learned that if they had said they were partners from the beginning, they would have been allowed to go through border control together, avoiding all the drama. "But we felt kind of ashamed to say that," he recalls.
The unexpected incident was the prelude to a carefully planned trip into another country where their sexuality was much more accepted than at home. There were a few other things they didn't mention to the CBP officers. Li and Xu, a gay couple who have been together since 2007, would walk out of the airport, get married two days later in Los Angeles, and, more important, start their journey toward parenthood.
From 2015 to 2018, Li and Xu made four transpacific trips as part of their gestational surrogacy processes. They traveled nearly 50,000 miles, spent more than $200,000, and went through countless days of distress, all to fulfill the dream of having their own family.
An increasing number of Chinese gay men, like Li and Xu, are traveling thousands of miles and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to pursue a dream that is impossible at home. Like Li and Xu, many of them refer to their surrogacy process as their "journey."
Xu and Li met in Shanghai on November 15, 2007. They both grew up in rural China before moving to big cities. They'd chatted online and had a few phone calls, but when they met in person, it was love at first sight. By 2014 they owned two properties together and had just started a small business, a dry cleaner in Shanghai. Because gay couples are not allowed to marry or adopt in China, they started thinking about surrogacy. Li was 36; Xu had just turned 30.

For this story, I spoke to a dozen gay Chinese men who have begun or completed surrogacy in the United States. Almost all of them started considering it between the ages of 30 and 40, and they often discussed how one needs to be extremely devoted to the idea of having his own child before embarking on the lengthy and often excruciating surrogacy journey. But they also often mentioned mianzi, the nuanced Chinese concept that literally translates to "face" but also means social standing and dignity. Li says that for many gay men, the strong push for babies comes from the elder generation. The social and cultural norm in China, inherited from thousands of years of patriarchal traditions, is that having a descendant of your own blood is necessary for a good life. Although this idea is under fierce attacks from some in China's younger generation, it still resonates with many young Chinese people, including some gay men who are asked, or volunteer, to have a child to protect the mianzi of their parents and themselves.

Xu, left, and Li's wedding day in Los Angeles, 2015. | (Quiguang Li and Wei/Courtesy Narratively)
For some of the parents, that means going as far as pushing their sons into the surrogacy journey. David Wang, a single, gay man of 28, living in the southwestern province of Sichuan, says it took years for his parents to accept his sexuality after he came out in 2013. But once they had, his parents offered to pay for all of the expenses of surrogacy — if he would start as soon as possible.
"My parents' main argument was that they don't want me to end up aging alone," says Wang, who was single and hesitant at the time. He eventually conceded to his parents' wishes and made it through the bumpy surrogacy journey as a single father. In February 2019, Wang and his mother flew to Atlanta to be at the birth of his son and take him back home.
Dr. Guy Ringler, a physician with California Fertility Partners, tours in China to give medical consultations about surrogacy. His patients include one of the country's most influential 

"I have several patients who told me that they came out to their parents after their baby was born," says Dr. Ringler, who is a gay dad through surrogacy himself. "And they said that it was so much easier because the parents don't care anymore. Because they have grandchildren, it's not that big of a deal anymore."
Xu and Li were in a similar situation. Li has a brother, which significantly eased his pressure from the family; Xu doesn't, so they made the decision that their first child would be Xu's biological son.

Xu didn't come out to his parents until midway through the surrogacy process, when, after two trips to the United States, he felt unable to conceal it anymore. It was a smooth coming out. The parents soon joined the excitement over a prospective baby. The couple's decision to have a child became the tie between two generations. 

"I have several patients who told me that they came out to their parents after their baby was born," says Dr. Ringler, who is a gay dad through surrogacy himself. "And they said that it was so much easier because the parents don't care anymore. Because they have grandchildren, it's not that big of a deal anymore."
Xu and Li were in a similar situation. Li has a brother, which significantly eased his pressure from the family; Xu doesn't, so they made the decision that their first child would be Xu's biological son.

Xu didn't come out to his parents until midway through the surrogacy process, when, after two trips to the United States, he felt unable to conceal it anymore. 
It was a smooth coming out. The parents soon joined the excitement over a prospective baby. The couple's decision to have a child became the tie between two generations.

Read the rest of this story at Narratively.
Narratively is a digital publication and creative studio focused on ordinary people with extraordinary stories.

December 28, 2019

Many LGBTQ Millennials Plan To Have Kids Regardless of Their Income



By Julie Compton

Since they married in 2015, Jonathan Hobgood, 37, and his husband, Kerry Johnson, 36, have wanted to be dads. At first, the couple saw adoption as the best path to parenthood, but South Carolina, where they live, is one of 10 states with religious exemption laws that make it more difficult for same-sex couples to foster and adopt, and they worried that adopting would set them up for a legal nightmare down the road.
“Our concern was that if we did a private adoption and the birth mother decided a couple of years later that she wanted her child back, we would be in for a rather extensive legal battle to try to keep the child,” Hobgood told NBC News. “Most likely the courts would have sided with the biological mother, so that became a big worry for us. So we just decided, ‘Well, let’s take ourselves down the surrogacy path from there.’”
The couple did their research. The cost of hiring a female surrogate, they learned, would be steep — $120,000 to $150,000, a price that Hobgood, a project specialist for a medical insurance company, and Kerry, a management analyst with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, could hardly afford. But it did not deter them.
“I knew I wanted to be a child’s father,” Hobgood said. “I really just wanted to go through and enjoy bringing up this wonderful child who is a part of our family.” Hobgood and his husband are among the increasing number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the U.S. planning to have children, according to data released this year by Family Equality, a national nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ families. And despite the additional financial barriers for many prospective parents in this group, this increased desire to have children was found across income levels, according to a report the group released this month, “Building LGBTQ+ Families: The Price of Parenthood.”
Family Equality polled 500 LGBTQ and 1,004 non-LGBTQ adults and found that the desire to become parents is nearly identical among both lower- and higher-income lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. Forty-five to 53 percent of LGBTQ people between the ages of 18 and 35 are planning to become parents for the first time or add another child to their family (compared to 55 percent for their non-LGBTQ counterparts, a gap that has narrowed significantly compared to older generations).And those making less than $25,000 a year plan to have children at a similar rate to those making over $100,000, according to the report.
Amanda Winn, the organization's chief program officer, was surprised by the findings.
“I was expecting that folks who were living at the poverty line would report lower rates of wanting to bring children into the home knowing that finances were tight, but that’s not the case,” Winn told NBC News. “That innate, strong desire to have families exists regardless of income levels.”
LGBTQ prospective parents are more likely to face financial hurdles than their heterosexual peers, according to the report. Reasons include their relatively lower annual household incomes and the additional costs associated with having a child using an option other than sexual intercourse, which is considered by only 37 percent of LGBTQ people planning to start their families or have more children.

Assisted reproductive technology: 'an impossible barrier' for some

Thanks to advancements in assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, more LGBTQ people can have children through nontraditional methods, and interest is growing. Forty percent of LGBTQ people are considering such technology to conceive children, according to a Family Equality survey published in February — but many of these prospective parents will pay for it out of their own pockets, and the technology can be expensive.
“Most LGBTQ+ individuals will learn that their health insurance plan does not cover the cost of fertility treatments at all, and, if they do, the individual or family unit must prove that they have been ‘trying’ to conceive for 6-12 months before coverage begins,” the Family Equality report states. “This stipulation in the policy results in high monthly expenses for some and creates an impossible barrier for others.” 
The report outlines the diverse array of options now available to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people looking to have children, and the costs associated with them, which can range from less than $300 for those using a known sperm donor to over $150,000 for those pursuing gestational surrogacy.
Same-sex female couples typically rely on artificial insemination with donated sperm to conceive children, which usually costs several thousand dollars and is not always covered by insurance. If two women choose to have a child through reciprocal in vitro fertilization, where the fertilized egg of one partner is implanted in another, the cost is higher — typically from $12,000 to $15,000 for a basic cycle, according to Internet Health Resources.
Image: Chandra Chester
 Chandra Chester, with her wife, Lynn Doyle and their two children.Lisa Fleet


Chandra Ches 

Chandra Chester, 40, and her wife, Lynn Doyle, 37, both social workers who live in Maryland’s Baltimore County, conceived two children — a daughter, 4, and a son, 1 — through artificial insemination without IVF.
Chester said their insurance covered some of the cost, but she estimated they spent about $6,500 out of pocket for their pregnancies, including one that ended in miscarriage. Additionally, the sperm, which came from the same anonymous donor for both children, cost $500 yearly to store, she said.
On top of fertility care and doctor visits, the couple pays $30,000 annually on daycare for both kids. Along with food, clothing, diapers and other necessities, paying for their children consumes at least 50 percent of their gross annual income, said Chester, who works two jobs to make ends meet and will soon get a third. She said in hindsight, she wishes she had saved up more money for the fertility expenses and daycare before having kids.
“I knew it was going to be expensive,” Chester said, “but I had no clue it would be this expensive.”

Impact of ‘religious freedom’ adoption laws

State laws that limit gay couples’ ability to adopt can make the process even more difficult and costly, with some prospective parents opting to relocate to more LGBTQ-friendly states to adopt or pursue fertility treatments.
Kenneth Livingston and his husband, Ashley Redmond, both in their 30s, moved from Mississippi to Boston in 2013 so they could adopt a child. Livingston said it would have been too difficult to adopt in Mississippi, where adoption agencies could legally turn them away and where their marriage wasn’t yet legally recognized.
“We moved away from Mississippi not just to adopt, but to raise our child in a state that embraces diversity and inclusion, and we would never have that in Mississippi,” Livingston said. 
At least nine states permit state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse to place children with LGBTQ families if doing so directly conflicts with their religious beliefs, according to the Movement Advancement Project, an LGBTQ think tank. In November, the Trump administration proposed a rule that would allow faith-based foster care and adoption agencies to continue receiving taxpayer funding even if they exclude LGBTQ families and others from their services based on religious beliefs.
Foster care is the least expensive route to parenthood for most LGBTQ people, and typically costs no more than $2,600, according to the Family Equality report, but many can be turned away in states with religious exemptions.


Image: Kelly McGlasson
Kelly McGlasson in Sparta, N.J. in December 2018.Courtesy of Kelly McGlasson

Kelly McGlasson, 43, a single lesbian in northern New Jersey, always wanted to be a mom, but she didn’t have an insurance policy that covered fertility and couldn’t afford private adoption. So McGlasson, an early childhood coach for a nonprofit that advocates for children, decided to adopt through the foster care system in New Jersey, one of seven states that explicitly prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ people in foster care and adoption.
“It was something I knew I needed, to be a mom, and time was running out,” she said. “So I made that choice.”


Helping to offset the ‘price of parenthood’

A number of programs have emerged in recent years that help LGBTQ people offset the relatively high cost of building their families.
When LGBTQ couples choose to privately adopt a child without going through the foster care system, the cost can be $20,000 to $70,000, depending on whether the adoption is domestic or international, according to the “Building LGBTQ+ Families: the Price of Parenthood” report.
Even in Massachusetts, Livingston and his husband have struggled to adopt a child. Ashley, a freelance event planner, has had difficulty finding steady full-time employment. Livingston, a contract specialist, is the couple’s main source of income. The couple, who have been waiting to adopt since January 2018, saved as much money as they could since their move, obtained a no-interest $10,000 loan through a charity that works with their Massachusetts-based adoption agency, and qualified for a $15,000 grant from Help Us Adopt, a nonprofit that helps people adopt children regardless of “race, religion, gender, ethnicity, marital status or sexual orientation.”


Image: Kenneth Livingston
Kenneth Livingston, left, and his husband, Ashley, on Ogunquit, Maine.Courtesy of Kenneth Livingston

Livingston said adopting would be “extremely difficult” for him and his husband without the financial assistance.
“It’s just helping us avoid further debt, and helps us fulfill our wish of becoming parents, and allowing us to focus more on preparing for a child and less time worrying about finances,” he said.
Interest among same-sex male couples who wish to have biological children through surrogacy is growing, but few can afford it, according to Lisa Schuster, a program manager for Men Having Babies, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to men who want to become parents through surrogacy. Annual applications for financial assistance rose from 157 in 2014, when the grant program began, to over 450 applicants in 2019, Schuster said.
“The demand is huge, and there is also a growing trend of younger and younger men who are wanting to start families and are looking to surrogacy,” she said. 
When Hobgood and his husband, who live just outside Columbia, South Carolina, learned they qualified for financial assistance to pursue surrogacy through the Men Having Babies program, they were thrilled.
“At first, I was in that shock mode,” Hobgood recalled.
The program also helped connect the couple with a surrogate, and it is helping them navigate through the complex medical and legal process of surrogacy.
Even with the financial assistance, Hobgood and his husband will pay about $70,000 — roughly half of what they would pay without the assistance, according to Hobgood. But the couple’s journey to fatherhood is far more certain than ever before, and will likely end with a trip to Iowa, where their prospective surrogate lives, to witness the birth of their child.
That’s the “most exciting part,” Hobgood said — “just having our family grow.

November 19, 2019

Are You and Your Male Partner Adoptive Parents? Israel Would Like to Know Which One Is The Mom?



"History tells us without any doubt when religion controls the government the worse injustices take place based on a book or a high up in their hierarchy, Why do people still choose to live controlled by those forms of government?" (Adam)


Guy Sadaka and Hai Aviv were preparing to enroll their 2-year-old twins in preschool in Tel Aviv. The program is subsidized by the government, so the couple, who have been together for 12 years, applied with the Ministry of Labor and Social Services for tuition assistance. But the agent who answered the phone on Wednesday told the two men that one of them would have to declare himself the children’s “mother” on the paperwork, as first reported by the Israeli news site Ynet.

"I understand that you are both fathers and that you run a shared household, but there is always the one who is more dominant, who is more ‘the mother,’" the representative said, according to Sadaka. "I am just asking for a written statement declaring which of you is the mother. From the point of view of the work — who works less than the father? Like in a normal family.”

Guy Sadaka (left) and Hai Aviv with their 2-year-old twins.
 Guy Sadaka (left) and Hai Aviv with their 2-year-old twins.Etty Gennis

 
Guy Sadaka (left) and Hai Aviv with their 2-year-old twins.Guy Sadaka (left) and Hai Aviv with their 2-year-old twins.Etty Gennis

Sadaka, 33, said the agent was sympathetic but claimed her department was subject to archaic guidelines from the Ministry of Economy. “Don’t think about it too much,” she advised. “We are not going to investigate this, we are not going to check, we are only examining your eligibility.”

Aviv and Sadaka were both stunned by the absurdity of the request and shocked that they were being asked to lie to the government.

“It kind of made me laugh,” Sadaka told NBC News. “But this ignorance in a government office when it’s just about 2020 just seems crazy to me. I felt frustrated that I have to give answers that don’t make any sense."

By Wednesday afternoon, the ministry had issued an apology, stating it was addressing the family’s case “immediately" and would be updating procedures with its call center to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“We emphasize that the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs’ practices explicitly treat all types of families and grant equal rights to all,” a representative said in a statement. 
(NBC OUT)
Israeli-Palestinian conflict tears into LGBTQ Jewish community
But Ohad Haski, director of Israeli LGBTQ organization Aguda, called the apology “insufficient.”

"Shame that even in 2019 discrimination against the gay community continues to exist in our government offices,” Haski told Ynet.

Israel is often praised as the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East, but LGBTQ people still face significant hurdles in building families: Same-sex marriage is still not legally recognized and, until 2017, gay couples were only allowed to adopt children who were older or had special needs. From 2008 to 2017, when the Israeli government announced opposite and same-sex couples would be treated equally in the adoption process, just three gay couples were approved to adopt.

And it wasn’t until December 2018 that both parents in a same-sex couple could be listed on a child’s birth certificate, thanks to a landmark decision from Israel’s High Court.

Guy Sadaka (left) and Hai Aviv with their 2-year-old twins.Guy Sadaka (left) and Hai Aviv with their 2-year-old twins.Etty Gennis

While the country legalized gestational surrogacy in 1996, it is only available to straight couples. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he supports surrogate parenthood for the LGBTQ community, but he opposed an October 2018 bill that would have legalized surrogacy for same-sex couples and single women, claiming his coalition government didn’t have enough votes to pass it. “When we do, we will do so,” he added.

Until then, prospective same-sex parents must go outside the country, devoting small fortunes and massive resources to create their families. After multiple attempts at surrogacy across three different countries, Sadaka and Aviv estimate they spent close to $250,000 in travel, medical bills and other expenses.

And they’re relatively lucky — in Tel Aviv, Sadaka said, families like theirs aren’t uncommon. Neither they nor their children have faced much in the way of discrimination.

“Outside Tel Aviv, it’s not the same situation,” he explained. “And even in the city, there are landlords who won’t rent to gay couples.” 

The couple’s twins, a boy, and a girl were born in the U.S. via surrogate in 2017. While Israel immediately recognized the children as citizens, each child was conceived using a donor egg and sperm from each of the two men. As a result, Sadaka and Aviv still have to undergo a bureaucratic procedure to “unify our family” and grant parental rights to each other’s biological child — an extra step Sadaka said straight couples don’t have to deal with.

“As long as the religious parties still control the government, we won’t see a real change,” Sadaka said.

For now, he and Aviv are just glad neither has to be listed as their twins’ mother.

November 12, 2019

Gay Discrimination Denies over 400K Kids a Loving Family






By Marissa Miller 

Nineteen years ago, when Greg Thomas and Ron Preston adopted Samantha, they didn’t expect the process to run so smoothly. “A lot of that had to do with the attorney we had,” says Thomas, who lives with his family in Wichita Falls, Texas. “His wife was one of our best clients. And she was rooting for us and pulled every string in the system to make sure this was going to happen.” 
Same-sex couples looking to adopt in the future might not be in so lucky. On November 1, the first day of National Adoption Month, the Trump administration issued a notice of nonenforcement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposing to override the Obama administration’s anti-discrimination law, which included gender identity and sexual orientation as federally protected classes. If the rule becomes final after an upcoming 30-day comment period, Department-funded faith-based adoption or foster care agencies would be within their rights to deny same-sex couples or LGBTQ persons from adopting a child, a decision many belief treats children as commodities to be traded rather than people deserving of safe and loving homes.
When we talk about selective adoption, we often concentrate on the injustice of denying the rights of same-sex couples. But more than 100,000 children in foster care cannot be returned to their biological families and thus await adoption. Is their right to the best chance at a family not also denied when adoption agencies are allowed to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community? Prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting a child not only bottlenecks the adoption process but also sends children the message that identifying as anything other than cisgender is inherently wrong. Compounding this trauma is the fact that many LGBTQ youths entered the child welfare system because they had been rejected by their families, according to research from the Child Welfare League of America.
“Young people in foster care are now being subjected to living in this fear that their identity is something wrong or bad, and that because of it, they will have less of a chance of finding a safe, loving home,” Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer at Family Equality, an LGBT advocacy and support organization, tells Well+Good.
Same-sex couples are valuable assets to child welfare since they’re more likely to adopt children of color or those with disabilities, both of which are overrepresented in the foster care system, according to Abbie Goldberg, PhD, author of Open Adoption and Diverse Families and psychology professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. “LGBTQ parents are a resource for, not a drain on, the child welfare system,” she says. 
Of the estimated 442,995 children in foster care, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, racial and ethnic minorities comprise 53 percent of the population. A study published in the journal Children and Youth Services Reviewfound that up to 47 percent of the child welfare system population has some form of disability (compared to less than eight percent of the general youth population), with same-sex couples more likely to adopt children with special needs. In the child welfare system, children with disabilities are also more likely to be mistreated, abused, and overlooked, warranting an even greater pressing need for committed adoptive parents.
“Barring LGBTQ people from adopting or fostering makes no sense from a child welfare or economic perspective.” —Abbie Goldberg, PhD
Numerous large bodies of research cite equivalent parenting styles across a variety of orientations and identities, with a landmark study from the Journal of Marriage and Familyshowing that children adopted into same-sex or LGBTQ families are equally well adjusted both socially and academically. “Trump is not basing his agenda on empirical research, period,” says Dr. Goldberg. “Barring LGBTQ people from adopting or fostering makes no sense from a child welfare or economic perspective.”
Thomas, a devout Christian, explains that he proudly raised his daughter Samantha with his partner even at the expense of his relationship with his traditional parents. “I was raised in the Church of Christ so all of this was craziness to my parents, and they didn’t know that we were going to do this,” says Thomas. “So the day Samantha was born, I called to tell them. My mother said, ‘Oh, did you get another dog?’ and I said, ‘No, mom, it’s a little girl.’ ‘Well, what are two gay guys doing with a little girl?’ and I said, ‘Mom, we’re just going to love her.’”
And love her they did. “They have always treated me like they gave birth to me themselves,” Samantha tells Well+Good. “Never missed a basketball game or a dance recital. Been there for homework and boy troubles. Gave me a roof my head and unconditional love.” 
If the ruling does become final, Dr. Goldberg says not all hope is lost for youth in the child welfare system and their prospective same-sex parents. “Many agencies and social workers do recognize LGBTQ people and parents as incredible resources when it comes to fostering and adopting, and this cannot be overstated,” she says. “Not all agencies want to engage in and nor will then engage in discriminatory practices.”
And if the ruling does not make it past the 30-day comment period, Brogan-Kator says the administration’s proposal still raises an important question: “If the government allows us to be discriminated against here, where else can we be discriminated against?”

November 5, 2019

Adoption Families Will Be Turn Away Under Trump New Rule









 
A proposed rule by the Trump administration would allow foster care and adoption agencies to deny their services to L.G.B.T. families on faith-based grounds.

The proposal would have “enormous” effects and touch the lives of a large number of people, Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer at Family Equality, an advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families, said on Saturday.

The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday released the proposed rule, which would roll back a 2016 discrimination regulation instituted by the administration of President Barack Obama that included sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.

Any organization — including foster care and adoption agencies or other entities that get department funding — is “now free to discriminate” if it wants to, Ms. Brogan-Kator said.
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The proposed rule could be published in the Federal Register as early as Monday, followed by a 30-day comment period. After that, the comments will close and it will become final rule.

Critics, such as Ms. Brogan-Kator, said the rule would allow organizations to place their personal religious beliefs above the needs of children in their care, but the administration countered that it was not preventing L.G.B.T. people from adopting.

“The administration is rolling back an Obama-era rule that was proposed in the 12 o’clock hour of the last administration that jeopardizes the ability of faith-based providers to continue serving their communities,” the White House said in a statement on Saturday. “The federal government should not be in the business of forcing child welfare providers to choose between helping children and their faith.”

According to the Adoption Network, there are more than 400,000 children in the foster care system in the United States. More than 114,000 cannot be returned to their families and are waiting to be adopted.

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimated in a report that 114,000 same-sex couples in 2016 were raising children in the United States. Same-sex couples with children were far more likely than different-sex couples with children to have an adopted child, 21.4 percent versus 3 percent, the report found. 

Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement, called the proposal “horrific” and said it would “permit discrimination across the entire spectrum of HHS programs receiving federal funding.”

“The Trump-Pence White House is relying on the same flawed legal reasoning they’ve used in the past to justify discrimination against L.G.B.T.Q. people and other communities,” he said.

Tony Perkins, the president of Family Research Council, a group that supports socially conservative and Christian causes, said on Friday that the news was “tremendous” for children, birth moms and adoptive families.

“Thanks to President Trump, charities will be free to care for needy children and operate according to their religious beliefs and the reality that children do best in a home with a married mom and dad,” Mr. Perkins said in a statement.

October 6, 2019

Gay Parents Apply for Permanent Asylum in the US After Harassment and Threats to Take Away The Kids




Gay Parents Who Fled Russia Seek Asylum in America

"We know Trump's unfair and racist attitude towards all of the LGBTQ community and towards asylum seekers. But the couple is white so they might have a shot."(Adam)



Two gay parents from Russia have applied for asylum in the United States following harassment from Russian authorities and threats their children could be taken away.

This summer Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev took their adopted sons and fled Russia, where they had lived for over a decade. The decision to leave was made under advisement from their attorney, as Out previously reported. 

The couple, who married in Denmark in 2016, had been raising their two children with no problem for years. But when their son, Yuri, was hospitalized for a stomach ache, doctors learned they were gay. The hospital’s medical team reported the family, and Russia's Investigative Committee began harassing the couple, as well as investigating the social workers who facilitated their adoptions. 

Authorities said it was negligent for those social workers to allow the adoption to go ahead. The parents were ordered to report for a “pre-investigation check” into their lives, and their kids were forced to undergo a physical exam.

Things further escalated from there. An attorney advised them to spend some time outside of Russia, lest their kids be taken into state custody.

“A representative from the adoption center then called and asked us to voluntarily put the children in a rehabilitation center until the results of the examination were available,” Vaganov told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. “My lawyer told me, 'Now you have to leave the country.' 

Vaganov said he and his husband left Russia “less than two hours later.”

Vaganov and Yerofeyev decided that it was unsafe to return to Russia after someone ransacked their home and they eventually settled in the United States. According to the Russian LGBTQ+ groups Coming Out and Stimul the couple’s children “are studying in America and are successfully adapting to new living conditions with the start of the school year.” 

Now the family is applying for asylum to stay in the U.S. permanently. If they are denied, they could have their children taken away, as well as facing further persecution and harassment.

Same-sex couples have been barred from adopting children in Russia since 2012, the year before it passed an anti-gay “propaganda” law banning the spread of information on “non-traditional sexual relationships" to youth. That law is widely seen to have been imposed as retribution for a U.S. law that prevents human rights abusers from entering the country.

Russia’s “propaganda” law has been deemed to be improper by the European Court of Human Rights on at least three occasions. That court has limited authority to enforce its decisions, however.

Despite the looming threat of what happens if they return to Russia, the couple may have difficulty obtaining asylum in the United States. Though millions of people have been displaced by war, famine, climate disaster, and oppressive regimes, the Trump administration plans to block record numbers of asylum seekers


May 8, 2019

Judge’s Decision Allows Twins Sons Of Gay Male Couple To Get Citizenship



Image: Elad Dvash-Banks, Andrew Dvash-Banks, Ethan Dvash-Banks
Elad Dvash-Banks, left, and his partner, Andrew, with their twin sons, Ethan, center right, and Aiden in their apartment on Jan. 23, 2018, in Los Angeles.Jae C. Hong / AP file
     

By Tim Fitzsimons of NBC News
The Department of State is appealing a California judge’s decision to grant U.S. citizenship to only one of the twin sons of a same-sex couple.
The couple, Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks of Los Angeles, were married in Canada in 2010. Their sons were born via surrogacy in Canada in 2016. Each boy was conceived using a donor egg and sperm from one of the two fathers.
When the couple tried to obtain U.S. citizenship for their sons, Ethan and Aidan, they were told they needed to submit to a DNA test to prove the children's paternity. When they finally received a response from the State Department, only Aidan received a passport, because his biological father is Andrew, who is an American citizen. The couple sued.
“The agency’s policy unconstitutionally disregards the dignity and sanctity of same-sex marriages by refusing to recognize the birthright citizenship of the children of married same-sex couples,” the initial Dvash-Banks lawsuit stated. “The State Department’s policy is arbitrary, capricious and serves no rational, legitimate, or substantial government interest.”
In February a judge ruled in their favor and ordered the State Department to issue a passport for Ethan, 2, whose biological father is Elad, who is an Israeli citizen. Now, the State Department is appealing that ruling. “Once again, the State Department is refusing to recognize Andrew and Elad’s rights as a married couple," said Aaron Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality. "The government’s decision to try to strip Ethan of his citizenship is unconstitutional, discriminatory, and morally reprehensible."
Morris noted that this is settled the law in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which "has already established that citizenship may pass from a married parent to a child regardless of whether or not they have a biological relationship.”
Morris noted that the underlying constitutional principle at stake is: “Do you have the right to have your marriage recognized as a same-sex couple, just like all other couples?”
“That was a question answered by Windsor and Obergefell since 2015, that there is a constitutional right to marriage and to have that right recognized regardless of the gender of the person you marry,” Morris said. Immigration Equality has represented the couple as their case winds through the court system. Morris said that the next step was for the 9th Circuit to hear oral arguments, but that, in the meantime, Ethan still has an American passport, because the Los Angeles judge ordered the government to give him one.
“Until and unless the 9th circuit overturns the decision, Ethan remains a U.S. citizen,” Morris said.
In an email, the State Department said it does not comment on pending litigation, but guidance on its website says “a child born abroad must be biologically related to a U.S. citizen parent” in order to acquire U.S. citizenship at birth.

December 14, 2018

In Israel The Court Rules for Gay Parens in Birth Certificate



                                                                          
Illustrative: The High Court of Justice in session. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)




Thousands protest in support of the right of LGBT couples to adopt children at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on July 20, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Thousands protest in support of the right of LGBT couples to adopt children at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on July 20, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
In a victory for same-sex parents, the High Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that the Interior Ministry cannot refuse to write an adoptive parent’s name on a child’s birth certificate because of the parent’s sex.

The ruling came in an appeal by two gay men who jointly adopted a son. They attempted to procure a birth certificate from the Interior Ministry for the child, but ministry officials refused to write both the men’s names as the boy’s parents on the certificate, the Haaretz daily reported.


The couple, who filed their appeal together with The Aguda – Israel’s LGBT Task Force, a major gay rights advocacy group, argued that the refusal to record both legal guardians in the certificate could hurt both parent and child in the future, as it would make simple administrative and legal actions that required proof of the parent-child relationship more difficult in the case of the unrecorded parent. 
 
The judges noted that the case did not only concern the parents’ right to be recognized as parents irrespective of their same-sex relationship, but also, and more importantly, the child’s right to recognition as their child.
 
“The principle of ‘the good of the child’ argues for the recording of his entire family unit,” Hendel wrote, “and doesn’t permit us to limit ourselves to only one of his parents in the birth certificate…. The contrast with the treatment of a child adopted by a heterosexual couple, who has the right to have both adopted parents written in a birth certificate, is a contrast that applies both to the child and to the parents.”

From a simple administrative perspective, too, Hendel wrote, “it is unreasonable for the couple to be [legally] recognized as parents but for the certificate not to give expression to that fact.”

The court ordered the Interior Ministry to produce a birth certificate with both fathers’ names.

The ruling puts to rest an ongoing dispute between Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, of the conservative Haredi political party Shas, and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit over the question. Deri has defended his ministry’s refusal in recent months to register same-sex couples on their children’s birth certificates, leading Mandelblit to openly come out against the policy. Once two individuals legally adopt a child, Mandelblit has argued, there are no legal grounds for refusing to register both parents on a birth certificate on account of the parents’ sex or sexual orientation. The policy amounted to illegal discrimination, Mandelblit has told Deri. 

Wednesday’s ruling is expected to influence two additional cases before the court, Haaretz reported. In one, a lesbian couple is appealing to force the Interior Ministry to have both women listed as parents on a birth certificate, for a child born to one of the women. In the other, a transgender man who was born a woman is asking the court to force the ministry to change his designation in his child’s birth certificate from “mother” to “father.”

“We’re happy that the court reminded the Interior Ministry of something that should have been self-evident — that parents are parents, no matter their sex, sexual orientation or gender,” the couple’s attorneys, Hagai Kalai and Daniella Yaakobi, said in a statement Wednesday.

“The court clarified that this policy of nitpicking, which abridges the rights of LGBT parents for no reason, cannot stand. We can hope that the court’s clear statement will lead the Interior Ministry to reconsider its policy of refusing to register two parents of the same sex in their children’s birth certificate, and refusing to register transgender parents in their children’s birth certificates with their correct gender.” 
 
Hen Arieli, chair of Aguda, said the decision “pulls the rug out from under the state’s strange arguments whenever LGBT parenthood comes up. It’s time to end the illegitimate discrimination against us. We will continue to fight in the streets, in the courts and in the Knesset until we are no longer second-class citizens.”



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