Tuesday, November 28, 2023
From GBH News:
Five years ago, Kelley and Sarah McGuire were getting ready to welcome their first child.
Kelley McGuire spent four days in labor and ended up having an emergency C-section. Sarah McGuire was right there with her through the ordeal.
“She was a champ,” Sarah McGuire recalled, “and my son was healthy.”
They put both of their names on the birth certificate, just like they did when Kelley McGuire gave birth to their daughter a year and a half later.
Then, they grew more and more concerned about the political climate. Last year, the Supreme Court rolled back nearly half a century of protections for abortion with the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling, which on its own made families fearful. And one particular paragraph in Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion stood out; he took aim at the 2015 court case that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
The McGuires got a lawyer to officially adopt their own children.
“Given an absence of federal legislation, what would ensure that I had parental rights for my own kids?” Sarah McGuire said.
Family law attorneys have always strongly recommended that same-sex couples go through the costly and lengthy adoption process so that their parentage can’t be challenged in cases that involve sperm donors or surrogates — even when both partners are on the birth certificate, like the McGuires. Every attorney that GBH News spoke to for this story said that the number of same-sex couples looking to shore up their parentage has spiked since last summer, and that it’s a trend their peers in other states have also seen.
Data in family court is notoriously scant, making the magnitude of the trend hard to pin down. While individual cases are private, one category of adoptions that includes same-sex couples’ “confirmatory” adoptions, as well as cases like step-parent adoptions, rose by a third in Massachusetts’ 2023 fiscal year, a year that began just six days after the Dobbs decision. And each of the 10 Massachusetts adoption attorneys who responded to inquiries from GBH News say they saw the same change, though some say the surge has since died down.
“We should not have to adopt our own children. It is insulting and ridiculous to have to do that,” said attorney Joyce Kauffman, who practices in LGBTQ+ family law. “But my feeling is: it’s an insurance policy. So you want to protect your parentage, you do an adoption.”
Read more here.