second parent adoption in Massachusetts - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 10-18-2009, 12:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So my wife and I have always thought that second parent adoption is something we should do, but didn't actually get around to doing anything until a few weeks ago. Now we've met with a lawyer and started asking people to write affidavits. In fact I was going to send a check for the full adoption fee to the lawyer tomorrow, but I'm wondering once again why it is really a necessary process. I understand that my wife who is the biological mother of our three year-old daughter could abscond to Florida with her and I'd be in trouble and I know that if gay marriage were repealed in Massachusetts we'd need some other legal protection, but neither of these things seem likely so I'm looking for some better rationale and I know people on this board will have it. Thanks for your help.
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#2 of 10 Old 10-18-2009, 09:59 AM
 
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hi, we did it because same-sex marriage/partnership isn't allowed in our state. besides that, anything could happen wrt gay and lesbian rights. and not to be all doom and gloom but i've see it happen so many times where the bio mom has all the rights to the child and the non-bio mom is basically left with no legal ability to even SEE the child. this is just my opinion.

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#3 of 10 Old 10-18-2009, 10:23 AM
 
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We did it as an added protection.

Sure it's unlikely that we'd ever be in a situation where we will need it, but we do travel outside of the state to visit family and when we thought about the worst case scenarios while out of state, we felt it was better to have it in place just in case we need it. i.e. We're traveling and something were to happen to me (bio mom). Or DW is traveling with out me. I know that in all likely hood we will never have to pull out the adoption papers, but the $800 we spent was worth piece of mind for us.

I have heard of people doing it on their own and not paying a lawyer, which I would be interested in hearing about since we have DC#2 on the way and less money in the bank this time around...

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#4 of 10 Old 10-18-2009, 12:06 PM
 
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If you'll be outside of MA and other states that recognize gay marriages, it's the only way to ensure the rights of a non-bio parent.

An example: If you were to travel with your DD to Arizona and she got ill, you might not be allowed to be with her in the hospital -- only your wife would, since she's the only legal parent that Arizona would recognize, since they don't recognize your MA marriage.

It can seem like an extra hassle that's just money down the drain, but if you think of it as insurance, I certainly think it's worth it.

Best of luck!

Mommy to an amazing 8 year old, wife to an inspiring principal, and welcoming Wylie Grace! Our July 4th babe!
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#5 of 10 Old 10-18-2009, 02:59 PM
 
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I don't believe you actually need a lawyer to do it.

Out of curiosity, how much is it?

Now, as for why you might need it, a few likely scenarios:

- Your health insurance through work is better than your wife's or she doesn't have health insurance. Did you know that even if you work for an MA employer, if your insurance company is based out of state, they don't need to recognize your marriage?

- You want to travel internationally with your daughter without your wife - it will be less hassle.

- You need to seek medical care outside of MA and you want to be treated as a parent.


A few doom & gloom scenarios:
- You die in some way, and someone is at fault. Your daughter can launch a wrongful death suit. As a legal stranger, she can't. Say it happens in a non-gay marriage state - your wife has no claim, and your non-legal daughter doesn't either. If she's legally your daughter, they both have a claim.

- Your wife dies somehow, tragically and suddenly. She has a family member who tries for custody. It's unlikely your daughter would end up having custody, but it's going to cause a lot of pain and heartache while you fight them off.

- Your wife and daughter are injured in an anti-gay state...you're nobody to them. With the adoption, you're still nobody to your wife, but your daughter is your child.

At a minimum, every same sex couple in the US should have (and probably most other-sex couples, too):
- 2nd parent adoption (presumed parenthood is not enough out of state)
- Durable power of attorney
- A will

Even in Canada, back when I was coupled, we planned to do 2nd parent adoption because we travelled to the US frequently, and I wouldn't have felt comfortable without my partner having proof of parenthood.

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#6 of 10 Old 10-18-2009, 03:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all of your responses. I think I'm convinced. I'm an optimist to a fault so insurance is a hard sell, but I appreciate all the scenarios you described.

FtMPapa, the lawyer we went to has a flat fee of 2,000 dollars. I'm sure there are cheaper or maybe even free ways to do it, but when I've looked into those options it seemed like a long process and it was clear that a lawyer would expedite the process greatly. Now that we've had a lawyer walk us through the process it seems much less mysterious, but I liked the lawyer and it seems a little dishonest to have her take the time to explain it to us and then go off and do it ourselves. Thanks again for your help.
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#7 of 10 Old 10-19-2009, 10:51 AM
 
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Not sure where you live in MA, but I'm guessing the Boston area due to those lawyer fees. We live in W. Mass and it cost us $750 for a lawyer to do the adoption for our twins (that is her standard fee and she does a ton of second parent adoptions). You can absolutely do it yourself for free, but we felt it was too overwhelming the first time around. Now that we've been through it once with a lawyer, we will do it ourselves for our other kids.

But $2,000 does seem like a lot to me.

We are not in a rush to do the remaining adoptions (of our nearly 3-year-old and baby), but it is the plan. I want both of our relationships with our children to be recognized federally.

Lex

Mindfully mothering SIX kids (ages 4, 5, 7, 8, 11 & 11) in a small house with a lot of love.
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#8 of 10 Old 10-20-2009, 11:34 AM
 
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Boston Suburbs here. We paid a lawyer with kid #1 and realized what a waste of money it was. (And time. She turned it into this big stressful event.) I did kids #2, 3 and 4 on my own with very little time or money.

Call your local family probate court and ask what paperwork you need for a same sex second parent adoption. They'll send it to you, you fill it out, send it back and a few weeks later they'll call with a court date. You show up, watch the judge sign the paper, and you're out in a matter of an hour. The cost involved in in original birth certificates, some photocopying, etc. And if the paper work you turn in is missing something, or wrong, one of the court officers will let you know ahead of time.

As for why. I always carry both birth certificates (with both our names on it) and adoption papers (with both our names on it) in their passports when we travel. Some countries aren't so quick to get a two mom family and I'm paranoid about running into trouble outside of our country where I don't know how the systems work so well.

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#9 of 10 Old 10-20-2009, 02:46 PM
 
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So I have an intersting story that will go well in this thread.

The first very important thing to find out, is whether or not your state has a defacto parent law. This makes a huge difference in the adoption process.

So here is my story, my now ex and I had a son in 2001. We lived in Delaware, but because DE was just now starting to pass second parent adoption laws, we chose to have our son born in NJ because NJ had much more established second parent adoption and defacto parent laws which would make the process a whole lot easier. So we paid the Lawyer 2,000, made sure she gave birth in NJ and completed the second parent adoption, no problems. We are both legally recognized as his parents now right......

So after ex and i split we had agreed on a shared parenting agreement which split my then 4yr olds time 50 / 50 between the two of us. We always lived fairly close to each other in Delaware so no problems. This arrangement worked great for nearly 2 years. Well when my son was now 6, ex met a new gf, and decided she was going to move to NJ, almost 2 hours away from where we live in delaware. Obviously this would make the shared parent agreement hard. So after much thought, I (the non-biological parent) filed for custody of our son, since we had no official custody arrangement and I wanted to protect my rights. Should be easy right? WRONG. After waiting over a year and a half to get a court date, we get to court only to not have the trial because the judge decides that my adoption from NJ might not be valid in Delaware. Not because of the whole gay adoption thing, but because somehow in the DE law it says if you live in delaware you must adopt in Delaware for it to be recognized. SO, since we lived in DE and adopted in NJ, my legal status as a parent was now in question. Judge wanted to do a briefing to determine if i even had legal status. Luckily, 3 months later, the DE legislature passed a defacto parent law. This law, not my second parent adoption, solidified my rights to my son and allowed our custody hearing to continue. 1 yr and 11 months after originally filing for custody, I (the non-biological mother) was awarded full custody of our son.

Surely, there is a flaw in the law of our state not recognizing an outside states adoption, but I do not have the funds to challenge that, but would probably be something good for lambda legal or human rights activists.
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#10 of 10 Old 10-24-2009, 08:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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i just wanted to say thanks again to everyone for the responses. mumm, thanks for the tip to call the probate court. my wife called yesterday and said the woman was friendly and helpful and made the process seem shorter and less complicated than the lawyer described. i think you saved us $2,000! we're in the process of ttc, so it's exciting to be spared some expenses. thanks so much.
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