Well, I suppose it’s a matter of whose family. Some states are not very pro-family when it comes to those with gay & lesbian parents, and refuse to issue new post-adoption birth certificates with the names of both adoptive parents.
Lambda Legal has sent a demand letter to Oklahoma Commissioner of Health James Michael Crutcher insisting that his department issue an accurately revised birth certificate for the daughter of two adoptive fathers now living in Seattle.
The little girl, Vivian, was born in Oklahoma in March of 2002. She was adopted by Gregory Hampel and Edmund Swaya, who promptly filed the routine request for a new birth certificate. Without this document, the fathers would be obliged to go into detailed explanations in order to enroll their daughter in school, sign medical papers, obtain other legal documents on her behalf, or even take her on an airplane.
In July of 2003, the health department’s bureau of vital records issued a new birth certificate, naming only Hampel as a legal parent. According to Lambda’s Brian Chase, the officials stated that they were unable to “establish maternity” on behalf of Edmund Swaya, a gratuitously disrespectful explanation.
“Unable to establish maternity”? It sounds, to me, more like just a way to harrass, intimidate and otherwise make life difficult for gay & lesbian couples seeking to adopt and become parents. It’s one more reason why we need to have the same legal rights and protections that every other family has. Currently we don’t. Despite best effort—coming up with legal documents like wills, advance directives, medical power of attorney—there are still ways that states and individuals can make things difficult in a way they do not and can not for heterosexuals.
Lambda’s letter, dated April 2, marks the third instance in which gay adoptive parents have had to fight the system to obtain what is literally a vital record for their children. It took two years for a lesbian couple to wrench a birth certificate out of the Mississippi bureaucracy, even though Mississippi law also requires that records be revised regardless of the sexual orientation of the adoptive parents. In Virginia, three same-sex couples are appealing after a judge ruled against them in their birth certificate case last February.
I remember how relieved I was when we received our son’s new birth certificate, after the adoption was finalized, and both of our names were on it. Having it is one way we can ensure that we get treated like any other family in numerous situations. I guess some people may have a problem with that when it comes to adoption, because it seems as though the birthparents are “erased” from the record, but that’s not necessarily so. In a number of open adoptions, the lines of communication between the birthparents and the adoptive parents remain open to varying degrees—so the child has access to that part of his/her heritage.
I think the reason for stuff like this comes down to a few simple factors: bigotry and hatred. Period.