By: Tanya Dodd-Hise
So here we go. Harrison is almost six months already. (Can you BELIEVE that???) Once she has been in my residence for six months, I can legally adopt her. In case you don’t already know, this is a huge thorn in my side; a thorn that creates an anger within me that just boils until my face is red and flushed. As we have already established, Harrison is my daughter. Erikka birthed her, and together we are raising her. But yes, because we live where we live, in a state that has determined that THEY can decide what and who constitutes a family, I have to go through the process of second-parent adoption to legally be my daughter’s parent. Ridiculous. Stupid. Maddening. UNFAIR. I guess what really gets me is this: if the courts do not grant this adoption, I can never try it again; but it changes nothing in our home. I will still live here. Harrison will still live here. She will continue to always and forever be my daughter. It will only mean that legally, as her parent, I will be screwed. So I have to do whatever I can, as soon as I can, to ensure that we have the solidifying legal paperwork in place so that I can always protect her to the best of my ability as her non-biological mama.
The first step, of course, is paperwork. My BFF, Kim (aka Auntie Kim to our Harrison), is the attorney who will be taking care of our adoption, as well as some other friends who are in our same situation. She emailed me the paperwork that we all have to fill out, no matter if we are BFFs or not. I printed out the five-page Adoption Intake Sheet, and will fill it out and get it back to her with the necessary documents and payment. Another one of the reasons that I get so angry when approaching the matter: all of the money that I, and many other couples such as us, will have to shell out to adopt their own children (now taking donations, by the way). Fathers are automatically given the title of parent at birth, even though they don’t actually give birth, without having to adopt their own children. It is SO NOT fair. So back to the paperwork.
The first question asks if it is a step-parent adoption or a second-parent adoption. I’m not sure how different these two really are, but this is why I am not an attorney – I am just surrounded by them! It then launches into my name, relationship to the child, blah blah blah. It asks for the name of the adoptive father, if applicable, name of adoptive mother (where I suppose I put all of my information again). Then comes the information about the biological mother, and asks if she has received or been promised financial assistance in connection with her pregnancy, birth, or adoption placement. Yes, I totally paid Erikka to adopt this baby. Pbftttt. I’m still trying to figure out how to pay what I actually DO have to pay to adopt her! It then moves on to the marital status of the biological mother – but do I say that she is single or married? We are married in Connecticut and all of the other states that recognize it. But in Texas, where the adoption is taking place, we are considered unmarried. See how ridiculous it gets when some states recognize marriage and others do not?? Do I say that she is divorced, since technically she is? And where it asks for former spouse name, do I have to include that guy??
Then it moves on to biological father, if known. Since we used a donor, do I just put his donor number in that blank?? We have to say why Erikka will not identify the “father’s” name. I have to say that no, Erikka was not married to the donor, and no, there is not a paternity suit in process. I have to also say that Harrison never lived with the donor, and he has never contributed to her support. Then it finally gets to Harrison, with information about her “current name,” date of birth, who she lives with and where, and if her name will be changed. That’s pretty much the end of the intake form.
The documents that are required to accompany this form include Harrison’s birth certificate, our marriage certificate, and any documents showing the biological father has relinquished rights. Do we even have that? When you use donor sperm and do artificial insemination, do they provide us with a form that says that he has no rights whatsoever? It is so confusing.
And have I mentioned, it is SO ridiculous?