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Reproductive Lawyers and ART for Gay Parents to Be

March 31, 2014 | By: | Filed under: Birth Certificates, Birth Orders, Gestational Carrier, Gestational Carrier Arrangements, Parentage Orders, Pre-Birth Orders, Questions about the Office, Sam Sex Parenting and Reproductive Law, Surrogacy, The Journey to Parenthood, Third-Party Assisted Reproduction

Sometimes I feel like people don’t get what I do for a living.  At parties when someone asks me what I do and I tell them I am reproductive lawyer, I get a blank stare and an “uh huh” response.  I then explain that I am a lawyer that helps people have babies.  I may get a smile but I usually can tell that my fellow partygoer remains confused.  He or she will often ask me a question about adoption, assuming that I am an adoption attorney.  I next explain that while adoption law is part of my job, with my specific area of practice most of the time the adoption is just for one parent in a same-sex relationship who is seeking to establish parental rights after a surrogate birth.  If I am really lucky I get to talk about third-party assisted reproduction and all the ways people can have babies these days–and all the risk that comes with this technology.  And I am not talking about medical risks, or the risk of not getting pregnant, as third-party assisted reproductive technology (“Third Party ART”) is unbelievably successful.  I am talking about the risks presented by the laws that may apply to these family building arrangements.  Most people have no idea how complicated these laws are and how important my job can be to help ensure that all the work doctors are doing to help people become a family, results in a legally-recognized “forever” family.

And it is not just my fellow partygoer who fails to understand the importance of what I do with respect to Third-Party ART.  Many doctors have no idea the complexity of the legal landscape their patients may be facing.  So when Gay Parents to Be in partnership with RMA CT recently contacted me and told me about an upcoming event it was having with the Triangle Community Center in Connecticut, and that they needed a reproductive lawyer to help round out the panel, I jumped at the opportunity.  How could I not participate when asked if I could help explain why a reproductive lawyer needs to be a part of a patients’ ART team, and why what I do really matters?  Would I help?  No brainer, just tell me where to go and when to be there.

 Answer:

Saturday, April 5th 12pm – 2pm

Triangle Community Center

618 West Avenue, Norwalk CT

 

I often think that although we are all blessed when we become parents, those of us who faced challenges in becoming parents are more appreciative of our children and our family.  There are simple and seemingly insignificant things that couples that conceive without jumping through hoops take for granted, like the birth certificate with their name on it.  For those people who may have to spend tens of thousands of dollars and most certainly need a team of doctors and nurses and other reproductive angels to have a baby, that birth certificate is the symbol or proof of their victorious transition to parenthood. The birth certificate is often the one document that says “forever” family more than any other.[i]

While Third-Party ART, like surrogacy, is helping more and more people achieve their dream of having a family, it also raises more and more legal issues about how we protect that family.  My job often boils down to making sure that birth certificate is an “untouchable” document and to do that I need to be involved in the process just as early – sometimes even earlier – than the medical team.  Preparing the legal landscape ahead of time is just as important as preparing a surrogate’s uterine lining.  Just as a reproductive endocrinologist is going to monitor hormone levels and the thickness of a surrogate’s uterine lining in preparation for embryo transfer, one of my roles as a reproductive lawyer is to make sure everything that the medical ART team is doing to create this family, will be legally protected.

Most people entering into surrogacy arrangements understand that they need a contract with their surrogate.  What they often fail to understand is that the contract isn’t just about addressing the relationship with the surrogate or the financial commitments being made to her.  That surrogacy agreement is going to lay the foundation for obtaining a birth certificate and sometimes having the wrong wording, or not having specific wording in a surrogacy agreement can prevent the birth certificate from ever being issued, or being issued with the right people’s names on it.  Although many states have statutes or cases that specifically provide mechanisms for obtaining this birth certificate, in far too many states the complexities regarding the establishment of parentage is far more complicated and/or downright tricky.  Although a state may be “surrogacy friendly” the laws in that state may vary county-by-county and even judge-by-judge.  Even more, as the country becomes friendlier to marriage equality, and state laws are becoming more progressive, the definition of what a family is may now include three parents, or “intimate partners” who share parenting responsibilities.  It is this ever-changing legal landscape applicable to Third-Party ART that makes addressing the legal side of these family building plans essential.

As one of my colleagues has [not so] facetiously said, sometimes whether or not you can get a birth certificate comes down to which elevator button you are pushing in the courthouse.  I am really thrilled that I am going to have this opportunity to explain what I do, and hopefully ensure that more people who are considering entering into Third-Party ART arrangements understand how reproductive lawyers can help them, when we can and should be helping them, and helping ensure that when it is time for them to get their birth certificate it (hopefully) doesn’t come down to which button they are pushing in the courthouse elevator.  And if it does come down to elevator buttons, that there is confidence that the attorney who has been hired to press the elevator button can successfully navigate the legal landscape necessary to obtain that birth certificate.

 

 

 

 


[i] This blog does not address issues regarding the enforceability of birth certificates for same-sex couples.

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Infertility Treatment and Insurance — Speak Up While You Can!

January 30, 2012 | By: | Filed under: Announcements, Current Affairs, Financing Fertility Treament or Adoption, Insurance for Infertility, IVF, The Journey to Parenthood

There is an important deadline tomorrow:

Public commentary (from you!!) is needed to demand that infertility treatment coverage be included as an essential benefit under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  To include your voice and make sure your concerns and needs are addressed contact the Department of Health and Human Services before January 31st, 2012.

The decision to include infertility treatment as a covered essential benefit falls solely in the hands of Kathleen Sebelius, US Secretary of Health and Human Services.  You can email her at

EssentialHealthBenefits@cms.hhs.gov

For more information please read http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Infertility-Matters–Demanding-Essential-Benefit-Coverage.html?soid=1101342191383&aid=B44Urr44QiU

 

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Registration Issues: Registered Users Please Read!

November 6, 2009 | By: | Filed under: Announcements, Current Affairs

Hey everyone, while I was away, Kristen and Emily were hard at work trying to figure out why we have all these registered users who cannot seem to be able to post.  We had a worm on the site awhile ago and it seems the damage the worm did went a little deeper than we realized.

Anyone who has previously registered to be a user on this blog needs to register again.  As of today, we have only 4 registered users, down from over a hundred.  Please, please, please, take a minute and register again.  I am so sorry for the inconvenience.  But some mean person corrupted my blog.  Once you register again you shouldn’t have any problems.  You may not have even noticed . . . but we noticed and we miss you!

Once again, anyone who has previously a registered user on this blog is no longer registered due to a worm that corrupted the site.  Please re-register and join our discussions!

Thanks!

Liz

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Resurfacing from all my travels and I have some news!

November 6, 2009 | By: | Filed under: Current Affairs

I have been off the blog travelling to various meetings for reproductive professionals, including ASRM and moderating a panel for the American Bar Association’s A.R.T. Committee addressing insurance issues in gestational carrier arrangements.  I learned tons (for other posts) but came home exhausted and overwhelmed and of course the office was happily insane with new business.  Of course the travelling and stress of long hours, on and off planes, in and out of cars, running through (or trying to walk through) convention centers, and tons of work meant my back went out . . . and I wound up in bed staring at the ceiling last weekend.  But everyone needs a break — just wish mine had been on a beach in some tropical location.  😉

But I have been very productive in my absence with many new things to bring to the blog . . . first and foremost the e-Book on Egg Donation is almost done!!!  Can you believe it!  Kristen, my marketing guru, is gearing up for a big marketing campaign to let the world know that the first in my series of the Nuts and Bolts of A.R.T.:  The Egg Donation e-Book is going to be coming to a computer or store near you very soon!  Now’s the time to get in and get your free copy . . . email us at Info@Storklawyer.com and tell us you want a copy of The Egg Donation e-Book.  We will add you to the mailing list when it’s available so you can download your copy.  It will also be available (not immediately) in kindle format.  I can’t believe we’re finally on the cusp of releasing this book that I have been working on for what feels like forever.  WooHoo!  By the way, it’s written for both intended parents and prospective egg donors.

Also in the news . . . on January 4th, 2010, The Stork Lawyer Connection will officially open for business.  For years I have wanted to start my own egg donation agency but couldn’t reconcile myself to certain issues I have with the existing egg donation agency model.  The Stork Lawyer Connection is a unique agency, with a new way of bringing donors together with intended parents.  Our website is almost done, our staff is together, and we’re so excited.  I am so excited!  Keep an eye out for our press release, and for information on The Stork Lawyer Connection coming to a mailbox, doctor’s office, or computer near you!

Congrats to Ms. Samantha Hill, the newest associate in my law office, who found out yesterday that she passed the New York State Bar Exam!   Sam was an intern in my office during law school and joined us when Danielle took a leave of absence.  Sam, I am very proud of you!  Rumor has it that another former intern passed the bar as well . . . so our congratulations also go out to Ms. Sarah Thomas . . . character and fitness forms are on their way ladies!  CONGRATULATIONS SAM AND SARAH – YOU DID IT – YOU PASSED THE BAR!

There are lots of infertility and adoption events going on right about now.  The RESOLVE of the Bay State Chapter is holding it’s annual conference this weekend.  We send some goodies up for the auction, but anyone reading in the Boston area should head over to the conference (Nov 7th).  We hope to be there in person next year, but this year with the conference coming on the heals of my trip to Montreal to speak at the American Bar Association, and attend the 65th Annual Meeting of ASRM in Atlanta, we just couldn’t do it.  Those goodies we sent are pretty awesome though.  Free consultations on adoption, a free egg donation contract, free signed copies of The Infertility Survival Handbook and The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Adoption . . . I hope we made up for not being there in person.  Concerned Persons for Adoption is having their annual conference (also the 11/7) in New Jersey at Rutgers University.  I wasn’t able to attend that event either, but we did send handouts on what you need to know about third party assisted reproduction and adoption in NY and NJ and an offer for copy of one of my books.

I will be speaking and have an exhibition table at the annual APC Conference, held this year in Brooklyn, NY at St. Francis College on November 22nd.  I will be speaking on Adoptive Breast Feeding and Marketing and Targeting in Adoption: how, when and where to find a birth family.

We’re also working on changes to the Stork Lawyer website.  All the web site design for The Stork Lawyer Connection has me wanting to freshen up the Stork Lawyer site as well (plus we have to add all our new staff!!).

I am off now to post a general blurby blog and to work on the website for The Stork Lawyer Connection.  Oh yeah, I have homework for my coach too (maybe something to blog about)!  And another sweater to knit for a client . . . TGIF!

Breathe Liz, just breathe!

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