Lambda Legal Issues FAQs for Maryland Married Lesbians Expecting Children; Adoption Hearing Tomorrow

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"Maryland children need to be able to count on having both mothers listed on their birth certificates from their first days in the world. but families should also protect their children with formal adoptions by the non-birth parent."
May 26, 2011
Susan Sommer

"Children need to be able to count on having both parents listed on their birth certificates from their first days in the world, but families should still protect their children with formal adoptions by the non-birth parent."

(Baltimore, May 26, 2011) -- Today, ahead of a married lesbian couple’s adoption hearing in Baltimore City, Lambda Legal released a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) guide urging married same-sex couples who are expecting children to make plans to complete second parent adoptions even though, if they are two married women, they will already both be listed as parents on their children’s birth certificates.

"Under Maryland law recognizing out-of-state marriages, the Bianchinis are legal spouses and are the legal parents of their twin boys. Children need to be able to count on having both parents listed on their birth certificates from their first days in the world, but families should still protect their children with formal adoptions by the non-birth parent," said Susan Sommer, Lambda Legal Director of Constitutional Litigation. "This is critical because federal law as well as many states still do not recognize marriages of same-sex couples or provide the benefits of marriage—including parental rights. We congratulate the Bianchinis on the birth of their twins and their impending second parent adoption."

"Thank goodness the Bianchini twins, born prematurely, had the security of both their mothers having immediate parental rights and of birth certificates naming both as parents based on the mothers' marriage. But that doesn't change how important it is that the twins' parents are completing second parent adoptions so that everywhere they go there can be no question that both women are the children’s legal parents," said the attorney for the Bianchinis, Susan C. Silber.

University professors Janna and Natka Bianchini met in 1999. Janna is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Maryland in College Park. Natka is Assistant Professor of Theatre in the Department of Fine Arts at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore. In June 2004, they were married out of state, and were looking forward to having children. On January 28, 2011 Natka gave birth to twin boys - Alec Lee Bianchini and Leo Antoine Bianchini - conceived through in vitro fertilization with anonymous donor sperm and Janna's eggs.

On February 10, 2011, while the twins were still in the hospital, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) issued a letter to state birth registrars announcing a procedure change allowing a woman to be named as a parent on the Maryland birth certificate of the child born to her same-sex married spouse without the necessity of a court order. Because of this change, the Bianchinis were able both to be listed as the twins' parents on the babies' birth certificates. Tomorrow, they will finalize second parent adoptions in Baltimore City Circuit Court, and will then have a court order confirming they are both the legal parents of both children.

"Because I was listed as a parent on the birth certificate from the start, I was able to get our premature boys the better health insurance coverage offered under my policy," said Janna. "But we are completing a second parent adoption to make sure our boys are protected anywhere we go -- not just at home in Maryland."

Read the FAQ: www.lambdalegal.org/publications/factsheets/fs_birth-certificates-second-parent-adoptions-maryland.html

Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation, is handling this matter for Lambda Legal. She is joined by co-counsel Susan C. Silber, Esq of Silber, Perlman, Sigman & Tilev, P.A.

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Contact Info

Contact: Jonathan Adams 212-809-8585 ext 267; jadams@lambdalegal.org

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

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