November 21st is National Adoption Day. Chances are that either you are, or know someone who has been adopted. If you have ever gone through the lengthy and nerve- wrecking process of adoption, you understand why it needs its own national holiday. The adoption story I am going to share today is not what you would consider typical.
I adopted the daughter that I physically gave birth too.
Wait… what? That doesn’t make sense wouldn’t you already be her mother?
My wife and I conceived of our daughter through reciprocal IVF, we used her egg with a donor sperm and I carried our daughter to term. So I gave birth to a child I have no genetic connection to. This in no way makes me less of her mother, unless you are looking through the lens of the state (Texas to be specific).
In the state of Texas, whoever physically gives birth to the baby is considered the legal mother. However, we fall in a gray area. I could technically be considered a surrogate and my wife could technically be considered an egg donor. So then who has legal rights over the child?
At the beginning of our fertility journey our clinic required us to complete an IVF Agreement which stated the ownership of the embryos we were creating with Krystal’s eggs and donor sperm. In this agreement, it is stated that we both intended to be parents and outlined that neither of us were acting as a donor or a surrogate. You would assume that this would cover any child that resulted from one of these embryos right?
This agreement only protected the embryos, not any child that resulted from said embryos.
So, when I was 7 months pregnant we began the adoption process. This included hiring an attorney, completing criminal backgrounds checks, FBI Fingerprinting, Pay Stubs, Marriage Certificate, Birth Certificates, Child Abuse Background check and a visit from the social worker. If you have ever had a social worker come into your home, you know it is the most nerve-wrecking thing to have your home inspected by an individual who could decide this is no home for YOUR child.
Although the legal fees cost a pretty penny, there is no price tag that Krystal and I could put on the peace of mind knowing that we are both protected as our daughter’s mothers. Should Amelia be hospitalized, we both have the ability to make medical decisions on her behalf. Should something happen to one or both of us, she would go to the guardian designated in our will – not who is deemed ‘next of kin’ or biologically related. For example, if I died my family could not take custody of Amelia away from Krystal or vice versa because of the protection the adoption grants us. When enrolling Amelia in daycare, we provide the daycare with the adoption decree so regardless of the political climate or current events, we will always be guaranteed Amelia’s legal mothers no questions asked.
On September 13, 2019, we traveled to San Antonio (that is where our attorney is located) and walked into the courtroom, swore to tell the truth, and answered questions by a judge.
We are so privileged to have an experience where there was no doubt we would be granted the adoption. Our attorney specialized in LGBTQ families and had worked with this judge and social worker before and knew we were safe. Judge Salinas’ only rule was that she got to hold the baby. Judge Salinas granted us both the adoption and we left with a huge weight off our shoulders knowing not only that we were protected, but also that our family was recognized by the law.