Emma Brockes has written a fabulous major feature for this weekend’s Guardian Weekend magazine on same sex parenting, in which we are proud to be quoted. The piece tells the story of three modern same sex parent families:
Kellen and Patricia, lesbian mums from New York who have a daughter and are now expecting twins, following egg swapping IVF – Patricia is the birth mother but she carried embryos created with Kellen’s eggs.
Will Halm and Marcellin Simard, gay dads to three children age 15, 13 and 10, who pioneered surrogacy as gay dads in California, where they were the first same sex parents to be named on a birth certificate together, and where Will now represents others as a fertility lawyer.
Andrew Solomon and John Habich, gay dads to a truly alternative family structure – a son through surrogacy who they are raising together, and three more children co-parented with two different mothers.
It is a wonderful picture of the realities of modern same sex parenting, with scenarios we are increasingly dealing with for families in the UK too. All the parents involved talk vividly about the challenges and problems they have faced as gay parents – not the playground prejudice and emotional problems many might expect, but losing legal rights when crossing borders, and grappling with obstructive passport authorities. But the biggest problem of all for alternative families remains surrogacy. As Emma says in her article:
There is, in all this, one glaringly unsubtle problem, and that is surrogacy, which as a percentage affects gay men more than any other group. Commercial surrogacy is illegal in the UK, forcing many childless couples to seek help abroad. When they return, the British government is reluctant to endorse an arrangement that undermines public policy. “English law applies its own rules as to who the parents are, irrespective of what happens abroad,” says Natalie Gamble, the country’s leading fertility lawyer. “So even if you’re named as the parent on a US birth certificate, English law will say that the surrogate is the mother and if she’s married, her husband is the father.”
This can lead to some bizarre situations. In 2008, Gamble’s firm acted for a British couple who had used a surrogacy service in Ukraine. “In Ukraine, the law said they were the parents. But under English law, the Ukrainian surrogate and her husband were the parents. The systems were in direct conflict. The result was that the children had no parents and no nationality. They had no right to stay in Ukraine, and they had no passport to cross any borders. That’s the worst nightmare of international surrogacy.” Gamble persuaded the Home Office to issue the children with discretionary entry clearance, then applied to the high court for a parental order, naming the British couple as legal parents.
We have long campaigned for alternative families, both individually in court, and by arguing hard for changes to the law (including supporting the UK’s legal changes allowing gay dads and lesbian mums to be named on birth certificates together). Why do we do this? Because we believe that parents who love and cherish their children raise wonderful families, no matter what the structure.
With that in mind we want to salute, above all, what Will Halm says about his teenage daughter: “That a test tube baby, from two gay men, is a well-adjusted, smart, polished girl at 15, who is comfortable talking about her family – she is what I would like the world to see. Not the parents who are creating the child, but the children themselves.”
You can read the article in full at http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/apr/20/gay-parenting-emma-brockesTags: Andrew Solomon, Californian surrogacy, Co-parenting, commercial surrogacy, donor agreement, donor conception, donor conception law, donor insemination, Emma Brockes, fertility law, fertility lawyer, gay men conception, gay parenting, gay surrogacy law, Guardian, international surrogacy, international surrogacy law, Kelen Mori, law, lesbian, lesbian parenting, Natalie Gamble, Patricia Moreno, same sex parenting law, surrogacy agreements, surrogacy lawyer, The Guardian, Will Halm