A nice bit of paradox.

The Child Care Support Worker from the council’s Initial Response Team has just left the building after our first meeting about my adopting of BB.  And we don’t know whether to feel relieved or offended. Maybe both?

I (jay)  have to say, here, that while I am grateful that, as a lesbian, I am “allowed” to adopt BB – especially as around the world, many other women in my position live in places which employ such suckitudeness that  say they are NOT able to do this.

However, at the same time, I’m just so fucking insulted that we have to go through this as a family. After all, if we were a straight couple using donor sperm, the male partner’s name could be on our kid’s birth certificate. Hell, straight people can just put whoever’s name they like on their kids’ birth certificates, whether they are the bio father or not.

This especially bites because the law changed here recently, meaning that BOTH mothers of any gaybys concieved after April 6 this year can be named on their birth certificates.  So we conceived BB too early. Cue ironic laughter.

But anyway, we got civilly partnered and I have parental responsibility for BB, but we still wanted to go through the adoption process to make our family more robust legally; adoption lasts a lifetime (parental responsibility expires when a child is 16 and can be contested in the event of a break up, for example) and overrules stupid blank boxes on birth certificates. And stuff.

So this smartly dressed fiftysomething woman comes to our house today and tells us she doesn’t think it will take long to sort out my adoption of BB, but she hasn’t come across a case like ours before so she isn’t quite sure what she’s meant to be doing. Uh, oh. We were rather surprised by this, living in an area with lots of lesbian families, but whatever.

Of course, it turned out that vee knew far more than she did, and even had to explain a few things to her. It was really not fun.  For example, she said that we wouldn’t need to go through the whole adoption procedure because we’ve done all the right things like getting married and having parental responsibility already, but “most people wouldn’t bother anyway” (cough – let’s not dwell on that one eh). So we gritted our teeth and smiled while she asked us basic questions like how long we’d been together and what we worked as; whether we had a stable income and so on.

I was taken aback, though, when she said “Oh, well, this should be straightforward, because, you know, if your house was really filthy we’d have a problem. But it’s not, so I can see you’re ideal parents.” Hello?!  You’ve just met us.

And then she asked if we had valid, clean CRB checks. We do, yes. We aren’t criminals and you don’t need to worry about our ability to look after BB BECAUSE WE ARE HIS PARENTS, THANKS. AND anyway, you’ve just told us that we’re ideal parents and this is supposed to be straightforward and you’re not sure why we’re bothering to go through the whole adoption process, since I already have parental responsibility, and we are unusual and you’ve never met anyone like us before, and oh, let’s not forget that you don’t really know what you’re doing ANYWAY and you’re only here because some policy or other says you have to be.

It was all I could do not to cry or say anything; I told myself “Don’t flatten her, jay. It’ll be quicker if you don’t.”

And then she changed her mind and said she wasn’t sure that the Adoption and Fostering Team would need our CRB checks anyway, and she didn’t know if they would even want to come and see us either. So she’s going to go and talk to them again and see what we need to do next.

The icing on the cake was when we took her upstairs to see BB, who was asleep in his cot.  She ahhed for a while, then: “Oh! I see you’ve got him swaddled!” she said, and then there was a ghost of “what did the health visitor have to say about that?” when vee took over and told her that swaddling has come back into fashion and it’s great and he likes it and THAT’S WHAT THEY DO IN THE HOSPITAL ANYWAY.


Ah, well, it could have been worse.

xx jay


9 responses to this post.

  1. This sort of thing is angering, humiliating and degrading and should not have to happen, especially in cases where there is some sort of civil union or marriage that’s already been performed. Having to adopt your own child does not give anyone the right to make judgments about you and it completely sucks. I’m glad we were able to get our home study waived, but I’m sorry you had to go through this. If we didn’t do the adoption where we lived, we’d basically be trapped in our state since the state next door is outright aggressive towards gays and lesbians and if anything bad happened there, we’d be screwed. Man, this world has got to change.


  2. I’m honestly surprised that a home visit was even necessary, considering everything else the two of you have done to establish a “legal” joint-home for BB. Geez- you shouldn’t have to do any of this at all… can’t they grandfather you in to allow the same rights as if BB had been born after April 6th? It’s as ridiculous as my RE making me visit a social worker before she’d authorize our use of donor sperm… and the SW said we were there to “prove that we wanted a child.” DUH! If I hadn’t wanted one so much, I would have stormed out in disgust.

    Good for you for not flattening her!


  3. Ideal parents have clean houses. That really is the only qualification. You know, it really is just gender bias. I asked in the hospital what straight couples with donor sperm do, and the answer was that since the other parent is male, there’s no reason for anyone not to know that he is the biological father. It just doesn’t come up. Dumb dumb dumb.


  4. Well, if we all hadn’t CHOSEN this lifestyle we wouldn’t be having these problems, right? hahahahahhahahahahahahaha…yeah, *sigh* *wipes eyes*
    My wife and I are legally married in CA, US, but for her to have national rights to our future children that I carry, we have to do the 2nd parent adoption… I do feel lucky that she’ll be on the birth certificate, but it’s so unfair that I should feel *lucky*!
    I’m so sorry you are having to go through all that; it’s ridiculous.


  5. I’m glad that the law has finally changed, but really what a ridiculous process to have to go through for all those caught before. The whole ‘ideal parents’ thing really bugs me, we get that from people we barely know who say we’ll be great parents but they don’t know (obviously we think we will be but you know what I mean), no one really knows unless they’re involved in the situation and that makes these kind of home visits a pointless intrusion.

    And that is without even touching on the unfairness of it all to begin with. It’s unbelievable that a birth mother can name any drunken oaf of the street as the father on a birth certificate without any blood/bio relationship being necessary but that you don’t have that same right. Surely in light of the law change and in cases like yours with such an obvious legal trail, there could be a little less harassment – cause really that’s all it is.

    Which would also make it less costly for them, and isn’t that the beauracratic way? lol


  6. These stories make me so mad – the ignorance of that case worker! We’re lucky to live in a state that has second parent adoption, so I am, on one hand, grateful that I’ll be able to adopt my future child, but on the other, so mad that it’s required. I hate feeling like I have to be grateful for a second class (expensive) right afforded to me by some benevolent legislator. We shouldn’t have to adopt our own children.


  7. Posted by reproducinggenius on August 17, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Oh this sounds so incredibly frustrating! That she didn’t know so much is positively annoying. But more annoying is that the legislation regarding gaybies and birth certificates can’t be retroactive. It just doesn’t make any sense, and I’m sorry you have to endure this. Argh.


  8. I feel you on the home visit and the adoption process. We have started the process of second parent adoption here before our little one arrives. It’s demeaning. There is no other way to put it. I am grateful that my partner will have legal rights and they will be stronger then the UPA that she has w/ her daughter now, but there is no getting around the fact that if we were straight living on the streets there would be no question. We would not have to be fingerprinted, have background checks, referrences, home visit, our taxes checked out, and a letter from our doctors regarding our health if we were straight. We are legally married in CA but it means nothing when it comes to rights. But like you said.. it could be worse.. we might not have the opportunity at all.


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