A and I met with our new lawyer today. We used a different lawyer for our KD contract back when we were using a KD. A local blogger recently referred us to this new lawyer. (Let me tell you, it’s been funny to answer the questions, and how were you referred? when asked by the receptionist and also by the lawyer.) This blogger went so far as to say this lawyer is the best where we live. This of course made me want to know more. So I poked around on the internet and then called to ask prices. I was pleased to learn the new lawyer was cheaper and seemed to be more reputable. She offered us a free consultation, we figured why not? We were not disappointed. I left the meeting feeling fully confident in her ability to make this as easy and affordable as possible. But more importantly, she felt human, and I felt I could ask questions and she took the time to make sure I understood everything. The other lawyer made me feel rushed, this lawyer did not rush us.

We set up the appointment wanting to talk about drafting wills and to get started on the second parent adoption paperwork. First and foremost we were happy to learn there are some ridiculously out dated laws (that were certainly not written to benefit same sex couples, but do nonetheless) still on the books that because of our legal marriage status, automatically entitles A as a legal parent of the child I birth, this is also the reason why her name can be on the birth certificate from birth. However, for lots of reasons, we both feel strongly we need to go forward with the second parent adoption. The lawyer spent lots of time explaining all the steps in the adoption. We learned that traditional adoptions usually have three steps (at this stage any way, I am sure there are 3,000 steps in all):

  • The biological “father” has to terminate rights. In the event that the father can’t be found, then a legal notice must be published announcing the intentions for adoption, and someone (I guess the bio father) could then object.
  • A home study is conducted by an agency to assess the prospective parents with regard to: home, relationship, finances, etc. I understand this is a very expensive process, not to mention intrusive.
  • A six month residency requirement where for the first six months of the placement an outside agency assesses to make sure it’s a good match and all is going well.

This all seems pretty ridiculous given:

  1. We used an anonymous sperm donor (and we are so happy none of the KDs worked out).
  2. The baby has been incubated in our home and this will be it’s first home.
  3. NO ONE is taking this baby away from us after six months because it’s not a good fit.

Of course, I knew some if not all of this may be waived given our situation but I was not sure just how. We were relieved to learn that within our court district the judges just about always accept a series of paperwork to prove conception through anonymous sperm, there by eliminating a need to “find the father;” will accept a home study waiver if we complete sixteen thousand pieces of paper detailing all the information normally gathered in a home study; and after doing all this and for obvious reasons, the residency requirement is waived. This is all very good news. Several towns over, the judges are not so accommodating and will not waive these requirements there by forcing same sex parents to not only waste a ton of time as they move through their adoption, but also to shell out significant money on top of the already expensive adoption fee…several.towns.over.people. We’re not talking different states, we’re talking towns. How effed up is that?!

The lawyer indicated if we get all our paperwork done before birth and then we fill in the details (baby’s name, obtain birth certificate, etc.) after the birth, then the latest it would be final would be May! We want it done before we move in July, so this was welcomed news. We questioned her about ensuring A’s legal rights to the child before the adoption is final and she offered us and option that will provide her with emergency legal rights to make decisions on behalf of the baby in the event that anything happens to me. This is a temporary document, good for 60 days. I will sign one soon and continue to resign them as they expire until the adoption is final.

After spending all this time talking about the adoption, we moved into talking about our wills, powers of attorney, and health care proxies. (Can I just say, I feel like a real grown up). This stuff was boring but now we know what we need to do. And we’ll do it. We’ll work with the lawyer to complete the wills and powers of attorney, and we can easily fill out health care proxies on our own. Turns out we won’t finalize the will until the baby is born because once it is born we’d have to update it to include the baby’s name. Waiting saves us an updating fee.

Fees. One thing I really liked about this new lawyer, other than her patience, was that she really seemed to be doing all she could to keep this affordable. She is so well versed in second parent adoption that it does not take much of her time to file the paperwork (her time = our money). She was honest with us about things we can do with out her, and also gave us tips of how to reduce the amount of time she needs to spend on our case – for example if we produce our marriage license and the birth certificate then she won’t bill us for time spent doing these tasks. But if we wanted her to do it she would. Same goes for the health care proxy. We can download the forms for free. Or we can ask her to take care of it all. She was upfront that waiting till after birth for the wills would save money and that waiting to sign the powers of attorney at the same time as the wills will also save money. All very good news, since this is all kind of expensive. In the end we signed a contract with her, and as soon as I send her a check she’ll be on retainer for us and the adoption stuff will officially be underway. Again, to say I have a lawyer on retainer makes me feel really grown up.

So that’s all the good news. We live in a state that has second parent adoption. We have a great lawyer, she’s working with us, it will all be done before the big move, and so on. But I couldn’t help but feel sad as we sat there plotting to ensure A’s legal parental rights to our child. I’ve known we’d go through an adoption, but I’ve always thought of this baby as ours. From the very start, she and I were in this together. We wanted to create our family. We shared all the ups and downs of ttc. And when I got pregnant, she was just as excited as I. She takes care of me when the pregnancy is difficult. Together we’ve prepared our home to welcome this baby. She is with me at every prenatal visit (and was at every insemination – hell she pushed the syringe at every insemination, she got me pregnant). And yet, we have to go through all this extra work and pay a bunch of money just to legalize her rights. Sometimes the law sucks. It sucks that as of this moment, she is a legal stranger to the baby I am carrying. When, she is anything but a stranger to this baby.