Hmm, well, it seems that just as I was pissing and moaning about Peeper having no birth certificate, it was being issued.
We received it in the mail today!
I was really surprised how little information is on it – Just date of birth, county of birth, name, sex and our names. And the dates it was filed (2/10) and issued (2/11). That’s it.
*Our* birth certificates have a *ton* of information on them. Parent’s ages, address, occupation, number of previous live births, singleton/twin/etc, all kinds of stuff.
I’m curious about one thing.
It lists us both as “Parent.” I’m wondering if they did ours special, or they’re all like that.
I’ve asked LawyerFriend to let me know, when they get their son’s birth certificate, if they’re listed the same way, or as “Mother” and “Father.”
And, speaking of – thanks again for all your help with the pre-birth order.
Beyond the practical reasons that we’re glad to have it in hand, I can’t describe how much it meant to open that up and see both our names on it.
We have several legal documents to protect our relationship, but this is the only piece of paper in existance that actually says we are officially, legally, in the eyes of the government, a family.
And that feels pretty damn good.
Celebrate Freedom to Marry week with The Other Mother’s blog carnival.
February 10 – Something Old
February 11 – Something New
February 12 – Something Borrowed
February 13 – Something Blue
February 14 – Celebrate Love
Of course, the first “new” thing about our relationship that comes to mind is Peeper.
Peeper is fifteen weeks and two days old but she (rather like her parents’ marriage) still does not officially exist, according to the government.
That is, her birth certificate has yet to be issued.
A few weeks ago, I called our county courthouse to ask if they’d received it, and they referred me to someone with the BlueState Department of Health’s Office of Vital Records.
At first, she had no idea why we wouldn’t have a birth certificate for our three-month old, but then I started explaining the circumstances.
“What’s the last name again? Oh yes, I remember you. You need to call . . . . “
So, I made another call, “What’s the name? Oh yes, I have your file on my desk. We were wondering about that.”
Um, so, were you going to call someone to ask about it, or just sit there and ponder on it ’til she needs the damn thing to start kindergarten?
(Actually, she needs the damn thing now, to get a Social Security number, so we can file our taxes, so we can get our tax refund, so we can pay our damn mortgage for a couple of months!
Not to mention that Shrike’s insurance company would very much like that number, as well, since they’ve already paid several thousand dollars of benefits for her.)
But, I digress.
This woman told me that LawyerFriend needed to call their legal department, yada yada yada.
A week or so later, after the legal lady had not returned his calls, I finally got her on the phone, and explained, and then she knew what to do, and then she sent him a form that we had to fill out: Supplemental Report of Assisted Conception.
This is basically the form that’s used for a surrogacy, to show who the “intended parents” are, if they are not the person who birthed the child.
(Nevermind that one of her intended parents did birth her.)
It came with instructions to fill out my information for the “intended mother” and Shrike’s for the “intended father.”
(So, when we finally get the damn certificate, is she going to be listed as Peeper’s father? And how screwy is that going to be for the rest of her life?)
If we were married (and, therefore, the state had a concept of two women creating a family together) we could have just put both our name on that first form that we completed at the hospital and been done with it.
We wouldn’t have had to go to court to ask permission to both be legally considered our child’s parents.
We would not have had to ask permission for Shrike to be legally considered the mother of a child who shares half her genes.
But way beyond the legal issues surrounding her birth, Peeper deserves for her parents to be married.
She deserves for her Mama to get health insurance through Mommy’s employer (more on this later in the week).
She deserves to be protected by our state’s divorce and custody laws should, God forbid, we break up. (Which we have no plans to do.)
She deserves for her surviving parent to receive social security benefits should, God forbid, one of us die. (We have no plans of doing that, either. But one never does.)
She deserves for her family to have the same recognition and the same rights as any other kid’s family.
She deserves equality.
For those who are interested in doing something similar, or who are just interested, here’s the language of our pre-birth order, which was signed yesterday:
IN RE: Interest of Unborn Child:
AND now this 26th day of August 2008, upon consideration of the foregoing Petition, it is determined by the Court as follows:
The parties to this action, Whozat and Shrike, are the parents of a child anticipated to be born on or about November 25, 2008, at OurTown Hospital (address), through Petitioner Whozat carrying a fertilized egg from Petitioner Shrike.
It is hereby ordered and decreed that any certified copies of the birth records of said child shall reflect the parentage of Whozat and Shrike whenever parentage appears on such documents. It is further ordered and decreed that this Decree and any other documents filed in the above captioned matter shall be kept under seal to protect the confidentiality of the parties.
Things could not have gone more smoothly with our hearing this morning.
AttorneyFriend put me on the stand first, and asked me a ton of questions about who we are, how long we’ve been together, how we made Peeper, etc.
He also had me confirm the authenticity of all the supporting documents, like our letters from Dr E and Dr T, donor/recipient agreement, sperm donor agreement, name changes, mortgage papers, and so on.
Then he put Shrike on the stand to basically confirm who she is, and that she wants to do this, too.
Then the judge said that she’d seen all the evidence, and it’s obvious to her that we’re Peeper’s parents, and that she feels that she’s “obligated” to grant the order to put us both on her birth certificate.
She also said that if we run into any trouble having it accepted and need to have any of the “language tweaked” to just bring it back and she’ll do that.
Then she told us congratulations and good luck, and we were on our way!
I picked up Dr E’s letter for our pre-birth order hearing this afternoon. Here it is:
To Whom it May Concern,
I am writing on behalf of my former patients Whozat and Shrike. I am the Reproductive Endocrinologist who assisted this nice couple in achieving pregnancy.
Whozat is currently pregnant with “Peeper” the female fetus concieved with an oocyte derived from Shrike’s ovaries after Shrike underwent an In Vitro Fertilization cycle to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple oocytes. The oocytes removed from Shrike’s ovaries were then fertilized in vitro with donor sperm. The embryos were developed in culture and then two embryos transferred into Whozat’s uterus after it had been primed for implantation. Thus, in summary, Whozat is pregnant with the fetus derived from the union of Shrike’s oocyte and donor sperm.
The oocyte retrieval procedure on Shrike occurred on: 3/4/08.
The embryo transfer procedure on Whozat occurred on: 3/9/08.
Obstetric ultrasounds to confirm intrauterine placement of the pregnancy and fetal viability occurred on the following dates: 4/2/08, 4/11/08, 4/18/08, 4/25/08.
If you have any questions regarding any of the above information please do not hesitate to contact me by phone at (cell phone) or email at (email address).
I will be more than happy to assist in any way.
Dr. E_____ MD FACOG*
*Fellow, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
We asked Dr. T to write us (yet) another not-crazy letter, this one to be presented to the judge with our petition for the pre-birth order.
(It also turns out that Dr. E can do her thing by letter, as well, so that’s on its way, too.)
Here’s what she had to say [with a few comments of my own added]:
To Whom It May Concern:
I have had the pleasure of working with Whozat and Shrike [oh, I’ll bet she says that about all the crazy people] in outpatient therapy since October 2006 [wow – has it been that long?!]. They began their journey to parenthood within this context, and are most certainly this unborn child’s parents, both biologically (in different ways) and emotionally. [Yep!]
This couple utilizes their resources well, employing this therapist essentially as a life coach. [Great description – I’d not thought of it that way. I like that phrasing, especially in terms of, “I’m their shrink, but they’re not crazy. Really!”] They have been striving for ongoing improvements in their individual adjustment to life stressors [such as, you know, life] as well as focusing on continual enhancement of their relationship. Certainly their parenthood is a primary concern to them, in terms of that same endeavor towards proficiency.
I strongly recommend that their petition be approved so that their child’s rightful parents are noted on her birth certificate. [Yay!] Additionally, it will offer peace of mind to the couple, knowing that the legal system accepts them both as the parents. [Very true!]
Thank you for your time.
Shrike & Whozat’s Shrink
LawyerFriend called this evening to let us know that we’ve got a date set for the hearing on our petition for a pre-birth order to allow us to put both our names on Peeper’s birth certificate from the beginning, with no need for a second-parent adoption.
The hearing will be on Tuesday August 26 – just two weeks from tomorrow!
The judge has agreed to allow Dr E to testify by phone, and I’ve also asked Dr T to write us another “not-crazy” letter, because our lawyer figures that can’t hurt, and might help.
Actually, I suggested that she concentrate on the fact that this has been a joint effort all along, and that we are, emotionally, both Peeper’s parents.
I figure if we have that from her, and Dr E to vouch for the fact that we are both biologically (each in our our own way) her parents, then LawyerFriend can convince the judge that we should also both be legally her parents and we’ll call it a day!
I believe I’ve mentioned before about my attorney friend who is helping us to file a petition for a pre-birth order that would allow Shrike and I to both be on Peeper’s birth certificate, from the git-go (as we say back home in Texas).
He’s got the petition all written, and tonight I’ve been pulling together various supporting documents to include with it, to show that we are (in the attorney’s words), “a legitimate couple and [we’ve] taken steps over the years to confirm [our] status as a couple.”
Those documents include: birth certificates, name change court orders (when we hyphenated), wills, powers of attorney, mortgage papers, and a xerox of a check, showing that we have a joint bank account.
We’ll also include the donor / recipient agreement that we signed before doing IVF, and maybe (yet) another “they’re not too crazy to be parents” letter from Dr T.
The judge may also want our medical records, or a letter or testimony (hopefully just over the phone) from Dr. E, to back up our story about Peeper being made with Shrike’s egg.
Tonight, I’ll have Shrike sign the petition and tomorrow I’ll make copies of everything to give to the attorney, along with a $47 check made out to “Red County Orphan’s Court Clerk.”
That sounds like something out of Dickens!
(Not to mention that Peeper has, in fact, more than the requisite number of parents!)
He hopes to file it all later this week, and to get us a hearing scheduled for sometime in August.
So, here’s the gist of the petition, if you’re interested:
- The petitioner is Whozat . . . .
- The petitioner is also Shrike . . . .
- The petitioners have resided together since May 10, 1998. The parties each changed their legal names pursuant to an October 19, 2001 Order. Said Order is attached hereto and incorporated herein.
- The petitioners participated in a commitment ceremony on February 10, 2001.
- Currently, the parties are undergoing a gestational surrogacy, whereby Petitioner Whozat is carrying a fertilized egg from Petitioner Shrike.
- The parties executed an Agreement Regarding Egg Retrieval and Transfer, confirming terms of the in vitro fertilization process. Said Agreement shall be available for the Court’s review at the time of the hearing in this matter.
- Whozat is scheduled to give birth to the child on November 25, 2008.
- Petitioners desire to have a Pre-Birth Order, similar to the one attached hereto, whereby both parties can be added to the child’s birth certificate, at the time of the child’s birth.
- With respect to a gestational surrogacy (e.g. where the carrier of the fertilized egg is not the genetic mother of the child), the BlueState Department of Health has formulated a procedure allowing for the originally issued birth certificate to identify the intended parents as the child’s parents. Said procedure requires: a) the completion and submission of a “Supplemental Report of Assisted Conception”; and b) the issuance of a court order, directing that any certified copies of the birth record of the child shall reflect the names of the intended parents.
- Petitioners believe and therefore aver that they will comply with all other requirements to obtain a Pre-Birth Order. Petitioners are prepared to submit to a hearing to address matters of their overall fitness to be parents of the unborn child.
WHEREFORE, it is requested that the Court hold a hearing on this matter, and at the conclusion of said hearing, grant a Pre-birth Order, confirming that both petitioners shall appear on the birth certificate of unborn child.
Oh, and did I mention that it seems that we’re the first people to ever ask for such a thing in our county?
They’ve done second-parent adoptions for gay couples, and have done “traditional” surrogacies, but this is the first pre-birth order for a donor/recipient lesbian couple to both be on the birth certificate.
Pretty cool, huh?
This afternoon, we received both our tentative schedule for the IVF cycle from the fertility clinic, and a draft of our donor / recipient agreement from the attorney.
I also turned in a couple of consent forms to the fertility clinic, so that the social worker is now allowed to actually tell people that we’re not crazy, rather than having to keep that highly sensitive information to herself.
I’ve added the tentative schedule to our “How to Make a Baby” agenda in the sidebar. Of course, all those dates are iffy, depending on how we each respond to our respective medication protocols, but it looks like we’ll be “getting started” (I take my first meds) in just over a week (!) and we should be doing the actual baby-making the first week of March.
In the meantime, we need to finalize the donor/recipient agreement, and order up some sperm (need to make a final decision about a donor, first, I guess!)
The agreement shouldn’t be a big deal; I’ve looked over the draft and it’s pretty much what we asked for. I just want to tweak a couple of small things.
One is that it says the agreement is good for two retrievals or six months, and I want it to cover all six possible retrievals.
The other thing, which we may or may not be able to change, is that in the first “hereafter known as . . . ” paragraph, it says that Shrike is “The Donor” and I am “The Intended Mother.”
I’ve asked the attorney if we can change that to refer to me as “The Recipient,” since the whole freakin’ point of the document is to establish that we are both the intended mothers!
Other than that, it’s pretty much good to go. Here’s the gist:
The sole purpose of this agreement is to enable Recipient and the Donor to have a child by means of in vitro fertilization using eggs donated by Donor and semen from an anonymous donor. . . .
The Recipient desires to have a child or children considered legally hers and the Donor’s and intends to be implanted with the donated eggs fertilized with the donor sperm and then carried to birth. . . .
Donor also desires to have a parental relationship with any Child born pursuant to this agreement. Further, she believes and intends that the Child is morally and legally that of both the Recipient and herself, the Donor. . . .
Donor wishes to utilize her unfertilized eggs and together with the Recipient intends to fertilize the eggs with the sperm of the anonymous donor and have the resulting embryo(s) implanted into the Recipient’s womb. The Recipient proposes and desires to gestate the resulting embryo(s) to term, and together with the Donor intends to accept all parental rights, claims and responsibilities for the child/children thus conceived and born. It is absolutely the Recipient’ and Donor’s decision together whether to gestate these embryos to term. . . .
Both Parties agree that upon retrieval, both the Donor and the Recipient shall have equal ownership of all eggs retrieved and embryos created, including any embryos cryopreserved for later use by the Parties. Donor agrees that Recipient shall enter her name as the Mother on the birth certificate of any Child born from donated eggs. The Recipient agrees that the Donor shall share equal parental rights to any Child born as a result of the egg donation, and the Parties will each sign documents before and/or after birth, and will take all necessary steps to fulfill the intention of the parties to make the Donor and the Recipient exclusively both the actual and legal parents of the Child. . . .