The BBA has endorsed legislation to codify a streamlined process for co-parent adoptions by couples using assisted reproduction. H.1485/S.1013, An Act to promote efficiency in co-parent adoption, will allow a petition by such couples to adopt their own children so as to ensure universal recognition and respect for their parentage. The bill will ensure greater clarity, efficiency, and consistency in the adoption process and will especially benefit LGBTQ couples.
Currently, couples who use assisted reproduction must complete adoptions of their own children in order to secure a court decree which ensures their parentage will be respected throughout the United States and internationally. Even if both parents’ names are on the child’s birth certificate, this does not equate to parentage and puts one or both of the parents at risk of having their parentage questioned in the future. Having to adopt their own children puts parents through an immense amount of emotional stress and financial cost that heterosexual couples not using assisted reproduction do not have to undergo. The adoption process is lengthy and invasive, forcing the couple to undergo a home inspection, one or more court appearances, a criminal record search, a six-month waiting period, and other unnecessary hurdles that create a daunting experience for a parent who is already fully engaged in parenting their child. It also forces children born to same-sex couples to remain vulnerable and undergo emotional stress and disturbance to their lives.
H.1485/S.1013 would eliminate these unnecessary barriers and allow LGBTQ and other families who use assisted reproduction technologies to be afforded the parentage rights they deserve.
It is especially important to enact such legislation in Massachusetts because Massachusetts happens to be the state with the highest use of assisted reproduction technologies in the country. California and New Jersey have instituted similar legislation in recent years and the BBA believes that Massachusetts should follow.
Elizabeth Roberts, member of the BBA’s Family Law Section Steering Committee and a family law attorney at Roberts & Sauer LLP, submitted testimony for the Joint Committee on the Judiciary at the public hearing on this bill in July and presented the issue to BBA leadership along with Section co-chairs David Friedman of Verrill Dana LLP, and Carlos Maycotte of Fitch Law Partners. As Elizabeth put it to the Legislature, “We would urge you to make this process less costly, time consuming and able to occur in a manner that offers dignity to LGBTQ families of the Commonwealth. A secondary benefit is that this legislation is in the interest of judicial economy, streamlining a process that was needlessly time consuming and that ignored the fact that these adoptive parents were intact families already”. The Family Law Section formally endorsed this legislation shortly after, and it has now been voted on and approved by the BBA Council.
We look forward to advocating for this important legislation that is long overdue.
Government Relations Assistant
Boston Bar Association