Monday, May 3, 2010

Growth updates and status of non-biological parent

Look, ma, no hands! (But daddy's right there to catch me!)

Our little nature boy, tiptoeing (or in this case, bouncing!) through the tulips.

At the moment, we seem to have a baby who is taking after dear old dad. At his 9 month visit, he's charted at the 83rd percentile for length (29 3/8"), 15th percentile for weight (18 lbs, 6 oz), and 1st percentile for head circumference. He's sleeping really hard these days, probably in reaction to all the teeth that are starting to poke out, and eating a great variety of food, including broccoli, kale, tofu, an oatmeal/barley/lentil mixture, and some other strange and healthy foods like ground flax seeds, brewer's yeast, and omega 3 oil. Trying to keep his neurological development going strong!

He's definitely moving a lot more than he was even a week ago, though he hasn't even begun thinking about trying to pull up or "cruise" (thank goodness!). All in all, as I said to the doctor the other day, we've hit the baby jackpot!

Wanted to address one issue that has come up on a few blogs recently, the status of the non-biological parent. When we started investigating surrogacy in India, all the information we got said that the intended mother's name would be on the birth certificate and therefore on the baby's citizenship. This was no longer the case by the time we arrived in India to pick up Micah, at least for US citizens. The way it worked for us was that my name appeared on the Indian birth certificate, but as , part of our process of getting Micah's US citizenship, we had to submit documentation proving that he was biologically related to a US citizen. The US embassy issues another birth certificate along with the passport, and this one only showed Adam's name as parent. Mother was left blank. (Disclosure, things may have changed since August 2009; I haven't been paying that much attention, but I doubt they've gotten more lenient.)

Just as in the case of a gay couple, to have my rights and responsibilities as a parent recognized, I'll need to do what's called a "second parent adoption;" this process is managed by your state of residence. I haven't done it yet because in our state, it becomes easiest to do this once the child has been living with you for a year, so I'm waiting to get started until that time. I haven't had anyone yet question my parental status, although I think once your child is in the school system this would be more of an issue, and of course, if there were any legal dispute between you and your spouse it would be an issue too. So for right now, I'm trying to stay on Adam's good side!

If both parents are biologically related to the child, be sure to bring ALL your fertility records with you to India when you pick up the baby, so you can document what you went through and potentially avoid having to do a DNA test. Our experience was that our clinic in India wasn't able to provide clinical documentation proving that Adam was the father, so we had to do a DNA test anyway.


  1. He's a cutie! Great diet! Bereket's a good, healthy eater also. Are you all coming East this summer?


  2. Thanks for the clarification Steph. It helps alot...i never had 2nd thoughts of ED reagarding my relationship..because i knew if i went that route the baby is matter what blood is in him/her. I just really wanted to know the process before i chose this way and made sure i was prepared. It helps to have you guys blog and explain things. Money is running low (after this 3rd attempt) and we have to re-think our own eggs if its not working....MANY THANKS ON HELPING

  3. Stephanie,

    The U.S. Consulate seems to be satisfied now with the letters and other documentation that SI provides. I don't know of any IPs (including ourselves) who have been required to do a DNA test for quite a number of months now, maybe going back almost as far as your experience. BUT -- as you also point out, things are always changing, so this too could change again for someone going tomorrow.

    On the parental status issue, make sure you are protecting yourselves for things like medical emergencies in case your husband is not available and they question your status to make the decisions for your son. If you haven't done so, it's important to have your rights covered until you actually proceed with adopting him -- these are simple documents for an attorney to draft for you.

  4. Hi Stephanie

    Having just gone through this ourselves, here are some tips to "help" with the budget a bit:

    1. If you don't have already, sign-up during open enrollment for your company's legal plan this fall if they offer any. Adoptions are usually covered by the better plans (i.e. Hyatt) so you will end up saving thousands in legal fees. Our net cost for adopting two twins was about $250 total in NJ for court costs.

    2. Adoption assistance $$$ - most companies offer this to their employees, usually you apply after the adoption is finalized. Your travel/room/board expenses in India, for the baby, medical costs for the baby qualify at a minimum. I know one couple whose company honored even the clinic costs and they got a nice check for $15,000

    3. Federal Adoption Tax Credit - you will qualify for a maximum Tax Credit of about 12K in the fiscal year your adoption is finalized. Note: this is not an itemized deduction, it is a CREDIT against your tax obligation. So if you do your taxes in 2012 for FY 2011 (adoption finalziation year?) and owe the govt 2K, then the 2K will be deducted from the 12K and you will have 4 more filing years to use up the remaining 10K. HOWEVER, if your tax obligation is zero, I believe that you can't request a tax refund, this only applies to your unpaid tax obligation for the tax year. One way around this is to lower your W-2 deductions if that is your payment method so that you get the minimum deducted each pay period resulting in a higher tax burden during tax time. But the higher tax will be applied against the credit so you can secure those funds quicker. WARNING: PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR ACCOUNTANT REGARDING THIS STRATEGY FIRST as everyone's financial situation is different. The Adoption Tax Credit rules are very tricky to understand but there are tricks you can use to get your full credit as soon as possible.

    As for the Consular Report of Birth Abroad, once the adoption is finalized, you can petition your state to issue new birth certificates which can be used legally in lieu of the CRBA. Every state is different in terms of how the certificate is framed, but in some states there is no mention of genetic parentage, so.... there is no need for you to use or show the CRBA to anyone ever again.

  5. I forgot to add, I don't know about Colorado rules but in NJ you DO NOT need a home study for a second-parent adoption for children already living in the home with you. This is a point that needs to be raised with your lawyer if the court clerk insists on a home study (in NJ it costs about $1500) and he/she will have to convince the clerk that there is no basis for it. We were asked to do a home study but we disputed the need and the clerk waived it.

    Good luck

  6. Thanks for sharing this insightful info Stephanie & Jon

  7. Before counting on any of the money-saving strategies Jon notes above, consult with your company's HR professional or your tax accountant. In my situation, I couldn't take advantage of my company's generous adoption assistance policy or the federal adoption tax credit because the adoption is the child of my spouse. In this small instance, gay couples in states that don't allow marriage appear to have a financial advantage.

  8. This is really helpful Stephanie. Thanks!

  9. Good info Steph. Micah is so beautiful and he really looks like Adam.
    Verification word: RESTED!

  10. It's worth looking into with an accountant for even married couples as far as the ATC is concerned. Does filing status make any difference? Hmm.... ???

    Corporate adoption assistance plans tend to have looser guidelines as they are not formulated or regulated by the Feds other than to prevent double-dipping with the ATC. I have heard of a few heterosexual married couples who were able to take advantage of what their companies offer. Again, it depends on the company I guess and you are RIGHT, no one should ever take tax advice from blog posters they should always consult their accountants when tax issues are concerned. What I have written should be regarded as purely hearsay...

  11. Stephanie, I love the photo. When Mark was born my name was placed on the birh certificate, even though we used donor eggs. My girlfriend who also had twins born in India just adopted them in court here in Maryland. There was no home study needed. All of this is good advice.

  12. Thanks for all the comments, folks. After writing about this, I realized it is a good time for us to talk to a lawyer, both for the adoption and to get some wills set up. I'll report back if I learn anything new after our meeting.

    From what I was able to read of the federal adoption tax credit online, it says practically in bold, capital letters "not applicable for the adoption of your spouse's child."

  13. Thanks, Stephanie! This was a really helpful post - we really appreciate the information.

  14. Your post really hit home for me. Since we are using an egg donor I've been wondering about if second parent was adoption is necessary for us.

    I always love checking your blog and seeing all the pictures of Micah. He is absolutely adorable!

    Warm Regards,