Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Second Parent Adoption

My mother is making me nuts! I made the mistake of venting to her the other day about how unfair it is that Elizabeth will have to adopt her own children. I mentioned that there are lots of other things that we'd like to spend our money on besides lawyer fees.

This morning, I checked my e-mail and she's sent me a link to la.mbda legal. She's very proud of herself because she thinks she's found the answer to everything. Suddenly, she's the expert on gay adoption law. I've been referring to that organization's website for several years now, ever since we got serious about starting a family. Still, I politely thanked her, let her know it was a great site and that it helped us to find the lawyer we're going to go with.

Her next e-mail is what really got me. She told me not to hire a lawyer, and told me that she had my aunt and uncle looking into it. My aunt and uncle who did a traditional domestic adoption 26 years ago. She also has her lawyer friend's daughter who lives in my state looking into it. She has a whole team of people supposedly "looking into things" on my behalf. She sent me a link for the state court adoption information. Basically, she is suggesting that the lawyers are tricking me into thinking I need them, and that I can do this all on my own.

Right now I am feeling a bit humiliated. Humiliated that there are at least a dozen people who think I've gone into this baby making thing blindly and have no idea how to handle the second parent adoption. Humiliated that there are people who now think I am turning to mommy for help and am probably too irresponsible to handle a child of my own.

I understand that my mother means well. That's probably the only thing that's keeping me from completely blowing up right now. This is where I need the expertise of all of you out there who've been through this, or are going through it now. Did any of you do second parent adoption without a lawyer? Would any of you consider it? Everything I've ever read stresses the importance of using a lawyer for this. So before I tell my mother that going lawyer-free is not an option, I'd love to hear from the real experts on the matter.

25 comments:

poppycat said...

My mom did something similar! She insists that there are groups out there (lambda) to help us and she insists "help us" means pro bono. I've tried to explaine to her that we will still have to pay for it ourselves but she doesn't listen. I just gave up and thanked her for the advice to shut her up.

I'm glad you asked this question. I have wondered myself but always assumed it couldn't be done or would be a bad idea.

Breathe deep Gayby ;)

Schroedinger said...

No advice, sorry-- but I will say that the whole 2nd parent adoption thing makes me just livid! Any redneck can have a dozen of kids and name them after dead Nazis and it's fine. But for us, we have to pay lawyers and court fees, undergo a home study and attend a hearing to determine if the adoption is in the "best interests of the child". It makes me want to punch the wall!

Strawberry said...

Sorry about the situation with your mother. I've been there (well, not THERE specifically) and have found that the less I tell her about needing help with stuff, the better. Sad, but it works. Anyway, we DID do a second parent adoption with a lawyer and I can't imagine doing so without one. Our lawyer and the firm were great...used to handling LGBT adoptions all the time. They had a bundled package where we were able to do wills, power of attorney, standby guardianship until the adoption went through the court, etc...all the legal documents a LGBT couple needs to be safe. Our lawyer made it a breeze with signing everything, filing it all, keeping us up to date on the progress and getting us into a good, liberal court in a nearby major city. All couples there were represented by lawyers.

Maybe you just need to tell your mom firmly that you have it under control now and you don't need anyone to look into it. That you NEED a lawyer who knows what they're doing and that's that. Good luck!

anofferingoflove said...

hire an attorney! i am a family-law lawyer and i frequently deal with the messes people make when they try to do things themselves, with forms they find on the internet, etc. you will spend less $$ and have less of a headache in the long run if you just hire a laywer to begin with. your mom clearly means well, but the adoption is too important to treat as a do-it-yourself project - you want to make sure it is done correctly.

my mom did similar stuff when i got pregnant. she directed me to websites i had been looking at for years!! :)

good luck!

Strawberry said...

And by the way, you get most of what you pay back in your tax refund (I'm talking like 80-90%). Trust me...just did my taxes and the refund is BIG ;)

N said...

Use a lawyer. And tell your mom about the tax credit, at least. Even lawyers I know use other lawyers to do it. There are so many little things and tricks and such that they know that even somebody well versed in the law may not know, to help things move along quickly and easily.

People are asking me all the time if we really need a lawyer (or even why we need to do the adoption, gee, thanks), and it's so frustrating.

nutella said...

Others have said most of it, but I wanted to say that this would be a good time to take a stand with mom. Take it from this side of parenthood, once the kid(s) is here things like this are likely to happen over and over. She needs to know that while you appreciate what she's doing, you are the moms and you get to make the decisions.

Malea said...

Totally Smitten Mama did their second pregnancy themselves. They are however in Mass and had the first pregnancy second -parent adoption to copy.

I agree about the money that could be spent on something else.It's just another form of gay birth control in my opinion.

Pomegranate said...

I can't remember if it was the Mothering.com Queer Parenting forum or if it was a mama blog I read, but I just recently read someone talking about how they HAD hired lawyers, but the process was actually pretty simple. When they do it again, they will not use lawyers. I just wish I remember who it was so I could point you in the right direction.

Pomegranate said...

I should read other comments before I post. I read it somewhere else, but yeah, what Malea said.

It's worth looking into, anyhow.

luckylittle13 said...

Oh, girl! They always have the best of intentions, don't they... I was an adoption social worker for child protection and have done 100s of adoptions without a lawyer in our county and we STILL hired an attorney for our second parent adoption. We do get a bit of a financial break with twins though as the lawyer's fee and county filing fee are the same no matter how many kids are on the petition. And, like Strawberry said, we got a standby custodian designation as part of the package, which is a must should anything happen before the adoption goes through.

jessie said...

I'm glad that we used a lawyer. It's a lot of paperwork and most of that has to be done after the baby is born which is NOT what you want to be worrying about when you have a newborn.

For me it was worth it to pay the money and not have to stress about all the administrative stuff involved. Plus she was able to prepare us.

AdventuresInBabyMaking said...

That stinks. It frustrates me, too, when people don't understand the complexity of the process and more importantly what's at stake!

We're definitely using a lawyer. I wouldn't even know where to start otherwise.

Two Moms, Two Monkeys said...

Lovely, sounds like my mother in law! Totally means well, but can overstep her boundries. You must set limits now or it will only get worse!

As for the second parent adoption. I did ours myself. I prepared all the necessary documents before the boys were born so that as soon as they were born I could have them filed. It was very easy and I saved lots of money.

There are 2 catches to this being a flawless experience for us: 1) I know my way around the courthouse pretty well. I interned for several law firms while in college. 2) We live in California, where my wife was already on the boys birth certificate as the second parent.

Here is what I did:
First, I contacted the department of children and family services to get a checklist of what needs to be done and compared that to the list with the court (all the same). I then downloaded the forms (three 1 or 2 page docs with very basic information for each baby) from our superior court website, filled them in while I was still pregnant and filed them shortly after the boys were born (5 copies). I paid $111 for each filing (no twin discount here) and mailed a confirmed copy to the department of children and family services (because they need to do a homestudy and submit their report to the court before the judge can order the adoption final) about two weeks after filing I was contacted by a supervisor at DCFS and was told she'd be assigning a social worker to our case and that I would be getting a phone call by the following month. When the social worker called we made an appointment for her to come to our house the next week. She came, we wrote a check for $700 total for her to do the study (we did get a 2-for-1 deal this time) asked us some very basic (dumb) questions like "why does she want to adopt the babies?" because they are hers stupid! Then took a quick look around and left. She was nice, just not really wise in the ways of the world. A month later she mailed us a copy of her report (which recommended that the adoption be approved) that she also filed with the court. I then went to the court filed a request for hearing and set a date to take the boys to court with my wife and have the judge rule on our adoption request. DONE. I spent under $1,000.00 and my wife must now stick around, like it or not!

Lisa said...

lawyer

Boo said...

We are also right in the midst of our own second parent adoption WITH A LAYWER. We would never dream of doing it without one. I am so sorry that you are going through all of this with your mama. But you have done your research and know what is best for your family- stick to your guns. And good luck!

rachelbk said...

Sorry, I'm going it alone so I have no clue about 2nd parent adoption procedures. I just wanted to stop in and cheer you on, and offer an empathetic ear to vent about how bizarre family can be, even when they're being so-called helpful...

mama bea, bao in the oven said...

Well, it does sound like she means well and is trying to be helpful, which in its own way is totally lovely and supportive. That said, it's also irritating to be treated like a child yourself when you are dealing with something that is so firmly in the "adults deal with this stuff" camp. We are in discussion with our lawyer about the second-parent adoption thing, and it never would have occurred to us to go without a lawyer. We are lucky to know a GLBT family law person, who has helped us do all the other legal protection work as well. I just feel like when it comes to this kind of thing, the kind of thing where your children could be taken from Elizabeth in the event that something should happen to you, you pay an expert and get those protections in place. End of story.

justine said...

i am with boo (obviously/ haha). but really, all the things i have read say, especially in a place where it's not a guarantee that you'll get it, to use a lawyer. there is SO MUCH paperwork. even with the lawyer i am overwhelmed and head spinning. it feels to us like this isn't something to go alone.

it really scared me when i learned about how i had to give up my rights to the baby so that we can both adopt. and that just sealed it for me, that i need someone in the driver's seat who has every possible understanding that i don't to get our family legally bound.

ok- enough already! good luck making your decision and dealing with mom.

Melissa said...

I'm grateful for our attorney. I couldn't imagine doing it without her, the stress level of thinking I had done something wrong is worth hiring an attorney. As others have mentioned you can also get a tax credit for the adoption costs. Hang in there, I agree she is trying to help and just think it could be worse she could be totally against the whole adoption.

Anonymous said...

You are so blessed. In my state, two parent adoptions aren't allowed, and my father hasn't spoken to my partner of 20 years, so to have a parent supportive, even if annoying, is a blessing. My mother did accompany us to Russia for our first adoption and spent 20 days with us in one hotel room....so trust me, you can put up with the advice!!

geekandlawyer said...

Gotta love when parents don't realise that we've been living in the GLBT community for longer than they have.
My mum tried to convince me that I should join a Catholic GLBT group at their cathedral shortly after I came out to her. All this love the sinner BS.
She still has hopes of me returning to church with her. God help her if she tries to get our kids baptised!

tui said...

Argh that sounds so frustrating. I'm expecting the same from at least one of our mothers (one has already made a couple of comments that I've had to just let wash over me). It is well meaning but still! I can't help with the lawyer business having no experience or need for it over here, but I would suggest that if you have any doubt whatsoever it might be best to cough up the $$ and get a lawyer.If it is as stressful as some have suggested then it's probably not fun to try and sort it out with a newborn. Or maybe try getting as much info and paperwork ready as early as possible and see how you feel about it then? I know I haven't been commenting but I've been following along still and thinking about you ladies often!

MrsSpock said...

I know diddly squat about second parent adoption, but it sounds like a lawyer is the safest way to go to me.

P said...

Just caught up on reading your post. Happy to see the ultrasound and pregnancy is going well. I love the story about telling your brother. I think a lawyer is the way to go since it will be done right as far as the legality of it goes.