Exploring Your LGBT Family-Building Options in Pennsylvania

The entire team at The Law Offices of Denise M. Bierly are proud advocates and staunch supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community. We welcome all families, regardless of sexual orientation, while embracing the idea that children thrive in loving families of all shapes and sizes, and nurturing homes take the form of many different family configurations.

Denise M. Bierly completed her first same-sex adoption 25 years ago and her first surrogacy case more than 20 years ago. We have seen LGBT adoption and surrogacy evolve over the years, have spoken on justice issues, and have remained competent and up-to-date on rapidly changing gay adoption laws and same-sex surrogacy practices.

In many ways, adoption, surrogacy, and other family-building methods are no different for LGBT parents than for any other hopeful parents. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind when starting your family.

Here’s what you need to know about adoption and surrogacy for gay couples in Pennsylvania.

Can Gay Couples Adopt in Pennsylvania?

Adoption for gay couples is more widely available than ever before, and there are more and more same-sex couples adopting jointly in Pennsylvania.

For gay couples adopting jointly, it is no longer necessary to complete the two-step process of first and second parent adoption. However, second parent adoption is still a requirement to protect non-biological LGBT parents in assisted reproduction cases.

While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in Obergefell vs. Hodges, it is important to remember that gay marriage and adoption are still separate issues. The Obergefell vs. Hodges decision did not address parentage, meaning that non-biological parents need to take additional steps to legally establish parental rights for their spouse’s biological children.

Even though married couples should be presumed under law to be the legal parents of a child born into the marriage, non-biological and non-adoptive parents should always complete a second parent or confirmatory adoption to establish parentage. Even in cases where both parents’ names appear on the original birth certificate, a parentage order is the only way to truly protect the child.

The Law Offices of Denise M. Bierly understand that joint and second parent adoption can be complicated and frustrating at times. We are happy to meet with you to discuss your individual circumstances, explain gay and lesbian adoption in Pennsylvania, and to determine what legal services you need to protect your family.

Please read the following to learn more about the domestic adoption and stepparent adoption process for same-sex couples in Pennsylvania.

LGBT Surrogacy and Assisted Reproduction

Increasingly, many hopeful LGBT parents are using assisted reproductive technologies (ART), such as sperm donation, egg donation and surrogacy, to complete their families. Like any other intended parents, these families need experienced legal representation to help them establish their parental rights and protect their children.

While the gay surrogacy process is essentially the same as it would be for any other parent, there are some important decisions same-sex couples need to make before beginning the process.

For instance, in surrogacy cases, it is important to determine who will be genetically linked to the child. While opposite-sex couples are often able to use both parents’ genetic material to create an embryo, same-sex intended parents will need to determine which partner’s egg or sperm will be used in the surrogacy process. Intended fathers may choose to fertilize multiple eggs for implantation using both partners’ sperm, allowing either (or both, in the case of multiples) to be the biological father of a child. In other cases, intended parents may choose to use one partner’s sperm with eggs from a close relative of the other partner, giving both fathers a genetic link to their child.

In cases involving sperm donation, lesbian couples may choose one partner to carry a pregnancy without the use of a gestational surrogate. These families may choose to have one partner’s egg fertilized with donor sperm in vitro, with the resulting embryo transferred to the other woman’s uterus for gestation. It is important to consider the role each partner will play in the pregnancy before beginning this process.

If you and your partner are interested in starting a family through gay couple surrogacy, egg or sperm donation, or another form of assisted reproduction, The Law Offices of Denise M. Bierly can provide the legal advice and services you need. Please read the following to learn more about gamete donation and surrogacy for gay men and women in Pennsylvania.

As an LGBT-friendly professional, Denise M. Bierly can provide all of the services, support and guidance you need to add to your family in Pennsylvania. To learn more about same-sex couple adoption, surrogacy, and other family-building options, please contact us to schedule a consultation.

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