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(p. 233) A Lesbian Parent’s Perspective on LGBTQ Families of Choice: Sharing Custody When There Is No Legal Requirement to Do So 

(p. 233) A Lesbian Parent’s Perspective on LGBTQ Families of Choice: Sharing Custody When There Is No Legal Requirement to Do So
(p. 233) A Lesbian Parent’s Perspective on LGBTQ Families of Choice: Sharing Custody When There Is No Legal Requirement to Do So

Joyce Kauffman

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Subscriber: null; date: 16 January 2019


When I came out as lesbian to my mother in 1975, she told me, “The only thing that upsets me is that you’re depriving me of grandchildren.” Thinking it would help, I told her I was definitely going to have a child; she responded, with chilling effect, “Don’t you dare have a child out of wedlock.”

I had recently moved to Boston, Massachusetts, from Newport, Rhode Island, where I’d been an activist in the antiwar movement. While in Newport, I had been married briefly to a man, and one of the reasons our relationship ended was because I wanted children and he did not. It was not long before I realized the other reason our relationship ended: I am a lesbian. In Boston, my political work shifted to the women’s movement and ultimately to the Gay Liberation Movement (as it was known then). The Cambridge Women’s Center (still located on Pleasant Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts) was a hub of movement activity and when I was not attending meetings to organize a demonstration or a picket line, I was teaching Marxism at the Women’s School, the educational arm of the Cambridge Women’s Center. In Somerville, Massachusetts, a group of us started the Somerville Women’s Center and, among other things, sponsored annual celebrations of International Women’s Day, a daylong event with workshops on topics like self-defense, domestic violence, and women’s health, as well as performances, films, and on-site childcare. The political climate was such that when we applied to use a public school space, members of the School Committee called us “women’s libbers” and “dykes.” Although we ultimately prevailed in obtaining the space, the opposition to our efforts was sobering indeed.

(p. 234) No matter what was going on, I never stopped thinking about being a mother. I was acutely aware of the lack of control women had over their reproductive lives. I had had to lie to get an abortion in 1969 when abortion was legal in only a few states. Even after Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, there was fierce backlash. In Boston in 1975, Dr. Kenneth Edelin was convicted of manslaughter for performing an abortion (his conviction was ultimately overturned).

And now, in my early thirties, I faced what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles in order to have a child. Along with a handful of other lesbians, I considered my options: a well-timed one-night stand with a stranger (unpleasant), adoption (unaffordable), and anonymous donor insemination (unattainable). In 1983, unmarried women, straight or lesbian, could not purchase anonymous donor sperm or seek assistance with artificial insemination through their medical providers.

It was around this time that I began to hear of other lesbians who were inseminating using turkey basters and sperm donated by friends. A little light bulb went off and I allowed myself to think about which of my friends I could ask this monumental favor of. As I deliberated, my mother and I continued to argue about my determination to have a child. Fed up, I finally said, “Look, I’m going to have a baby and you’re just going to have to deal with it.”

In 1978, I helped to organize the first Lesbian Mothers’ Day rally in Boston. Although not yet a mother myself, I wanted to participate in an effort to acknowledge the lesbian mothers whose children were born into prior heterosexual relationships as well as those of us who desperately wanted children but were effectively prevented from doing so because fertility services were not available to lesbians and openly LGBT individuals could not adopt. We were also mindful of the importance of the right to choose not to parent and the importance of defending access to abortion. The flyer for the rally stated “Our struggle is for the right to have a family if we choose, when we choose, and how we choose.” In 1979, I worked on organizing the first conference for lesbians considering parenting in Cambridge; Audre Lorde, a mother herself and one of the icons of the women’s movement, gave the keynote speech.

Plan B

Back when I was living in Newport, one of the people I had known was Paul.1 He had moved to British Columbia, Canada, from Newport, but returned to Boston in the early 1980s, and we renewed our friendship. He had always expressed a desire to adopt (though he never did) and he was aware that I wanted to have a child. When I became more serious about getting pregnant, it was not a big leap to consider asking Paul to be the donor.

After dinner one night in 1983, I broached the subject. For several hours, we sat and talked about whether or not we would try to conceive and raise a child (p. 235) together. Both of us were gay and single. Neither of us had any idea what we were doing. What would having a child together look like? How much involvement would he want? How much involvement would I want him to have? Would he contribute financial support? Who would name the child? What would happen if we disagreed about how to parent? Did we need to write up an agreement?

Now that I am a lawyer, I understand much better the importance of putting an agreement in place—but at the time it felt like an impediment to getting started. Nonetheless, we hired an attorney to draft an agreement—definitely new legal territory. We addressed decision-making, parenting time, financial support, dispute resolution, the involvement of our families of origin, and the authority to name the child, among other things. I do not believe either of us consulted with separate counsel (something I would definitely advise now). I had been charting my menstrual cycle for months and, after we signed the agreement in January, I inseminated on two successive days around Valentine’s Day in 1984, and much to my surprise, I got pregnant right away.

When I made the decision to have a child, there was no co-parent adoption; there was no gay marriage; there were no antidiscrimination statutes in most states; and there were no protections for LGBT families. This was long before large numbers of women were choosing to be single mothers, and, as I would soon discover, there were still very strong judgments about single women having babies, most particularly held by my mother.

A few weeks after the pregnancy was confirmed, I knew I had to tell my mother I was pregnant. I was defiant . . . and terrified. I arrived at her home (a relatively short drive but millions of miles from my reality) and just jumped right in. We were in her tiny kitchen, both of us standing, she at the ironing board and I, leaning against the counter. She just could not wrap her brain around it after I explained that I had inseminated. She wanted to know if Paul and I were going to marry. “Mom, I’m gay. He’s gay. We’re not getting married, now or ever.”

Other than one brief family event, my mother and I did not see one another for the remainder of my pregnancy. We had had a difficult and contentious relationship for a very long time before my pregnancy, and my mother was more concerned about “what the neighbors would think” than she was about supporting me. Then, in November of 1984, Sophia was born and, to my amazement, I became a mother. Immediately after Sophia’s birth, my mother (“don’t you dare have a baby out of wedlock”) declared her intention to move in with me for five days. That visit was the beginning of my mother’s love and appreciation for her granddaughter, and, along a somewhat bumpier path, the repairing of my relationship with my mother.

The Early Days

When Sophia was 3 weeks old, I took her to the 1984 Boston premiere of Choosing Children (Chasnoff & Klausner, 1984). A groundbreaking film by Debra Chasnoff (p. 236) and Kim Klausner, Choosing Children challenged the assumption that being lesbian meant you could not be a mother. The filmmakers were living in Boston when they made the movie and asked me to participate in a group discussion that was later included as a voice-over in the film.

The first 6 months of my daughter’s life were magical, though sometimes overwhelming. I loved watching both the subtle and the dramatic changes that occurred every day—her first smile, her first laugh, the first signs of just how entertaining she could be. Even though I was often exhausted because I was on my own, I could not believe that my dream of having a child had actually come true. Paul visited frequently, and both of us were focused on bonding with our beautiful little girl.

In May of 1985, one of my closest friends introduced me to Michelle. Michelle and I shared a common background having grown up working-class and Jewish in the Boston suburbs. She was just graduating from social work school and was 8 years younger than me. Our relationship quickly became serious and, in a few short months, we made the decision to live together. In addition to the excitement of a new relationship, it was a tremendous relief to share parenting responsibilities with someone—especially someone who so clearly loved my daughter. I do not remember a moment’s hesitation on Michelle’s part with respect to embracing motherhood.

That same year, then-governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts ordered the hasty removal of two foster children from the home of a gay male couple, simply because they were gay (see Howard, 2015). Protests and picket lines ensued as the LGBT community decried this homophobic act. It took 5 years to change the policy so that lesbians and gay men could become foster parents in Massachusetts. Those were the years during which Michelle and I were raising a child together.

Once, when I arrived to pick up 3-year-old Sophia at daycare, I found her surrounded by a group of 4-year-old girls who angrily announced to me, “Sophia says she has two mommies!” When I responded that yes, indeed, Sophia had two mommies, I admit I was nervous about their response. To my delight, they began dancing and yelling “Lucky Sophia! Lucky Sophia!” But we were not always that lucky, and there was more than one occasion when Sophia came home crying from school because she had been bullied about having lesbian mothers. It was not easy in the 1980s and 1990s to have lesbian mothers, even in progressive Cambridge, Massachusetts, known then and now as “The People’s Republic of Cambridge.”

Navigating the Legal Landscape

Paul continued to play an important role, and Sophia knew him as her father, just as we had intended and just as was reflected in our agreement. When she was still pretty young, maybe 3, Sophia began to ask more questions and I explained to her that Paul had helped me have a baby. When she was a bit older and asking more (p. 237) questions (“How, Mommy? How did Daddy help you have a baby?”), I gave her a more sophisticated explanation. (I once overheard her explain to a friend that you didn’t have to “do it” in order to have a baby.) Throughout the many changes in Sophia’s life, Paul remained involved. Although Sophia never actually lived with Paul and rarely stayed overnight with him, Sophia was and remains very close to her father. We certainly had our challenges with three of us negotiating parenting over the years and there were definitely disagreements, but I believe we all tried our best to remain focused on what would be best for Sophia.

Michelle and Sophia had an intensely loving relationship. They laughed and sang together, ran around our apartment a lot, built forts out of pillows, and watched The Wizard of Oz dozens of times—until Sophia had nightmares about the Wicked Witch and they had to stop. Michelle immersed herself in parenting, and I could see how much she and Sophia loved one another.

This made it all the more painful when her parental role was challenged, questioned, or worse, ignored, and this happened on a regular basis. Teachers, nurses, store clerks, even family members refused to recognize what, for Sophia, was the reality: She had two mothers. It did not take long to realize how disenfranchised Michelle was in relationship to Sophia. She could not authorize medical treatment or pick her up from daycare without my written permission; early on, her family did not recognize her as a parent, or Sophia as a granddaughter or niece. Even though she was fully involved in Sophia’s life as a parent—feeding, bathing, clothing her; playing with her; providing her with emotional and financial security—there was zero legal recognition that she was Mommy Michelle to Sophia. Michelle had no legal rights and no way to obtain them (see Knauer, chapter 1, in this volume). We both knew that her situation was not so different from that of the gay couple whose foster children had been removed. There were, of course, always questions about which of us was the “real” mother and lots of explaining to do. But the vulnerability she experienced continued throughout Sophia’s childhood. There was no same-sex marriage and no co-parent adoption; Michelle had no legal relationship either to me or to Sophia. It was utterly painful and sometimes humiliating for Michelle to always have to defer to me. We always presented ourselves as Sophia’s mothers, but Michelle had no legal authority and her parentage could come into question anywhere—with doctors, teachers, or even in the local coffee shop.

Even then, when relatively few lesbians were having children, there were many nonbiological mothers fighting for—and losing—custody of their children after a break-up (see Allen, chapter 11, in this volume). It was a perfect storm: more and more lesbians began to see that having children was possible while, at the same time, lesbian mothers divorcing their husbands were losing custody of their children solely because they were lesbians, and nonbiological lesbian mothers were losing custody of their children because they were not legal parents (see Tasker & Rensten, chapter 9, in this volume). Frustrated and angry, a group of us organized “Children in Our Lives: A Conference About Lesbians, Children, and Our (p. 238) Communities” in January of 1988. Dozens of workshops were presented, ranging from “So Your Lover Has a Kid” to “Fertility Awareness and Pregnancy Options” to “Helping Your Children Feel Safe” to “The Law and Lesbian Mothers.” There were workshops for children including “Are You My ‘Other Mother’?” and “How/Whether to Tell Your Friends.” Our keynote speaker was Angela Bowen, a pioneering black feminist activist and lesbian mother, who spoke powerfully to the intersections of all our realities. This was a profound message—confronting the multiple challenges we faced not only as lesbian women but also as women of color and poor and working-class women—challenges that layered one upon the other, challenges that must be addressed together.

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do—Even Harder When the Legal Deck Is Stacked Against You

That same year, when Sophia was 4 years old, my relationship with Michelle ended. I can never forget the moment when we told Sophia. She threw herself into Michelle’s arms and sobbed. It would prove to be a painful journey for all of us.

Michelle and I began the excruciating process of separating and trying to figure out how to continue parenting together. I would not be exaggerating to report that many of my friends, both LGBT and straight, assumed that Michelle would no longer be in Sophia’s life. After all, she had no legal rights (or obligations). It was an agony of huge proportions to wrestle with my own conflicting feelings. A part of me, of course, recognized that Sophia did not deserve to lose a parent just because her parents’ relationship had ended. And a part of me dreaded the idea of sharing custody and having to interact with Michelle on a regular basis (her lack of legal parentage would have provided an easy out). It broke my heart, though, to think about the loss my child would experience if she lost Michelle. And I knew that I could never live with myself if I caused that type of pain to my child.

Michelle and I painstakingly worked out a shared custody schedule where Sophia spent half of the week with each of us and continued to see her father as well. We struggled in the early years, and it was hard (for both of us) to be separated from Sophia. We slowly began to forge a new relationship, one focused on raising Sophia and being good and responsible parents. We did not always succeed, and mistakes were made. And, of course, Michelle still had no legal authority. We had no court order, no legal agreement. On a regular basis, I would have to furnish her with written permission to care for Sophia or take her to a doctor’s appointment or travel with her. How insulting it must have felt to her to need to get “permission” to parent her child.

And while it was reassuring, in the face of my own personal insecurities, to know that I was Sophia’s biological and legal mother, it never again occurred to me to challenge Michelle’s role as a mother. We struggled with all the things divorced parents struggle with—different approaches to discipline, chores, and limit setting; (p. 239) misunderstandings and miscommunications. But there simply was no road map for separated lesbian mothers and three-parent families—no guidance for what we were doing or for the family we had become. And, as I have said, there were challenges between Michelle and I, on one hand, and Paul, on the other. There were a few years of tension while we all settled into the new routine, but eventually we ironed things out and settled in. I knew it was difficult for Sophia and worried that she was suffering from going back and forth between households (not to mention from having to adjust to her mothers’ new personal relationships). Our parenting schedule remained the same until Sophia was in her junior year of high school.

Grappling with the obstacles I faced in becoming a parent and seeing the obstacles Michelle faced in asserting her parental status inspired me to become the lawyer I am today. Although many friends had suggested over the years that perhaps I should think about law school, it had never seemed attainable. Now, having practiced LGBT family law for over 26 years, it is hard to imagine that I would have done anything else. There is great satisfaction in helping people in a direct, tangible way and using the law to create social change. But it is my own personal experiences that fuel this work.

After graduating from law school, I was fortunate to work on the landmark case that established the right of same-sex couples to adopt children in Massachusetts, Adoption of Tammy (1993). Dr. Susan Love and her partner, Dr. Helen Cooksey, were the parents of a child born to Dr. Love using known donor sperm from a relative of Dr. Cooksey’s. Dr. Cooksey was outraged when her parentage was challenged while crossing the border from the United States to Mexico for a vacation and she returned to Cambridge ready to do something about it. An adoption petition was filed and the case wound its way to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Never before in Massachusetts had the Court determined whether two “unmarried cohabitants” could adopt a child together. Citing American University Law Professor Nancy D. Polikoff’s pathbreaking article, “This Child Does Have Two Mothers: Redefining Parenthood to Meet the Needs of Children in Lesbian-Mother and Other Nontraditional Families (1989–1990),” the Court stated:

Of equal, if not greater significance, adoption will enable Tammy to preserve her unique filial ties to Helen in the event that Helen and Susan separate, or Susan predeceases Helen. As the case law and commentary on the subject illustrate, when the functional parents of children born in circumstances similar to Tammy separate or one dies, the children often remain in legal limbo for years while their future is disputed in the courts. [Citations omitted.] In some cases, children have been denied the affection of a functional parent who has been with them since birth, even when it is apparent that this outcome is contrary to the children’s best interests. Adoption serves to establish legal rights and responsibilities so that, in the event that problems arise in the future, issues of custody and visitation may be promptly resolved by (p. 240) reference to the best interests of the child within the recognized framework of the law. [Citations omitted.] There is no jurisdictional bar in the statute to the judge’s consideration of this joint petition. The conclusion that the adoption is in the best interests of Tammy is also well warranted. (pp. 215–216)

Adoption remains the most secure way to establish legal parentage for parents, but sadly, adoption is not yet available to all same-sex couples. It is only very recently (2016) that the last state law banning lesbians and gay men from adopting was overturned (Barbash, 2016); however, in some states, adoption is reserved only for married couples. Even now that same-sex marriage is recognized throughout the United States, the presumption of parentage that is automatic in heterosexual marriages does not necessarily apply to same-sex marriages (Knauer, chapter 1, in this volume). Similarly, foreign countries may not recognize either the marriage or parentage. Thus, it remains essential that married same-sex couples adopt their own children to ensure recognition (Knauer, chapter 1, in this volume). Some states call such adoptions “co-parent” adoptions while others refer to “second-parent” adoptions. Typically, a “second-parent” adoption is one in which only the nonlegal parent adopts while the legal parent’s rights continue; a “co-parent” adoption is one where both parties adopt together, ensuring that both parents’ rights are recognized. For example, in Massachusetts, both parents must adopt together; otherwise the adoption will result in the parental rights of the absent parent being terminated.

In 1999, I joined a group of lawyers, mediators, social workers, and parents organized by Mary Bonauto2 to draft Protecting Families: Standards for LGBT Families, an aspirational guide encouraging the LGBT community to respect the familial relationships we create and not to take advantage of homophobic laws to sever parental bonds. The inability to protect parent–child relationships has resulted in numerous cases all over the country in which lesbian mothers without legal parentage face the loss of custody; many, if not most, of these cases result in the loss of those relationships altogether. How cruel for these children to experience the tragic loss of a parent.

After Tammy, my law practice increasingly focused on establishing and protecting LGBT families, primarily through adoption and drafting donor agreements. In addition, transgender individuals face unique challenges in protecting their relationships with partners and children: name and gender identity changes, divorce, and contested custody are only some of these challenges (Brogan Kator, chapter 17, in this volume; Minter, chapter 16, in this volume).

In 1996, a lesbian couple approached me with a unique challenge. One of the women had undergone an egg retrieval procedure and the other in vitro fertilization, using an embryo created by her partner’s egg and donor sperm. We were determined to get both of them on the birth certificate as the child’s mothers without first doing an adoption. Our argument was deceptively simple: one of them was clearly the biological mother and the other had given birth and, therefore, both (p. 241) of them were mothers of the child. Miraculously, the Probate and Family Court allowed our “complaint to establish maternity,” and that child’s framed birth certificate now sits on the wall of my office. These are the moments when I am proud to be a lawyer.

Family, Reimagined

Both Michelle and I had been in long-term relationships when, in a twist of fate neither of us could have imagined, both of our relationships ended at the same time. We were both faced with a housing crisis. I needed to move, and Michelle needed help to buy out her partner’s equity in their condominium. In the intervening years, Michelle and I had become close friends and remained devoted to parenting Sophia together. It suddenly occurred to us that the perfect solution was staring us in the face. Michelle and I moved in together and, after a break of perhaps 10 or 11 years, we were once again a family—granted, a family with a slightly different configuration but a family nonetheless. Together, we shepherded Sophia through her last years of high school and into college. I have some wonderful memories of this period in which the three of us lived together. There was a lot of love and a lot of laughter and a lot of this: “Mom!” “Yes?” “Not you, the other Mom!” Sophia thought we were a bit crazy, but I do believe she came to see this period of time as healing and very special, as did Michelle and I.

Around this time I learned that a colleague had successfully petitioned the Probate and Family Court to allow a three-parent adoption. Even though that adoption did not involve LGBT parents, I was intrigued and then determined to pursue the same for our family. For all of Sophia’s childhood, Michelle had parented without any legal authority. I approached Paul who, after some initial shock at the notion of three legal parents, agreed to do what Sophia wanted. Sophia wanted Michelle to be her legal mother and for Paul and me to remain her legal parents. Although it is often the case now that a “donor” will surrender his rights in favor of a nonbiological mother, that was not the arrangement Paul and I had agreed to, and his consent was essential. Paul and I had signed a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage when Sophia was born and he was identified as her father on her birth certificate. I prepared the adoption petition, drafting affidavits from each of us attesting to our relationships with one another, and submitted the petition to the court. Thankfully, the judge assigned to the case, a judge before whom I had appeared many times, did not question my assertion that our adoption statute could be interpreted to mean that a child could be adopted by more than two people. The finalization was scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving in 2002, when Sophia was 18 years old. We filed into the judge’s lobby and the judge took pen to paper. In one quick stroke, Sophia was granted three loving and legal parents. Finally, Michelle had the status she (and Sophia) deserved. Sophia was no longer a young child, and though many of the reasons for the adoption no (p. 242) longer applied, there remain significant benefits: Sophia, as Michelle’s legal child, is her “next of kin” as well as her legal heir if Michelle were to die without a will. Sophia would have standing in the court to sue for loss of consortium if Michelle were killed or seriously injured in an accident. If Michelle’s parents were to name their “grandchildren” as beneficiaries in their estate plan, Sophia would count as a grandchild. Most important, however, the adoption provided tangible legal confirmation of their relationship.

Where Do We Go from Here?

Many things have changed in the LGBT community since the late 1970s when I was desperate to become a mother. Discrimination against the lesbian and gay community was not made unlawful in Massachusetts until 1989, and, for the transgender community, full protection against discrimination did not exist in Massachusetts until 2016 (and is currently being challenged in a referendum campaign on the November 2018 ballot). In 1993, Massachusetts law changed to allow same-sex couples to adopt together. In 2003, same-sex marriage became the law in Massachusetts (Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 2003). Thereafter, children born into same-sex marriages could enjoy the presumption of legal parentage for both parents in Massachusetts. Over the next decade, several states legalized same-sex marriage. In 2013, the US Supreme Court invalidated the definition of marriage found in the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (United States v. Windsor, 2013), and in 2015, the Supreme Court invalidated state bans on same-sex marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015). Adoption has become available in every state to married same-sex couples, though some states are erecting obstacles to LGBT people becoming adoptive and foster parents. Several states have balked at providing the actual benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. For example, not all states have applied the presumption of parentage to children born to married same-sex couples. In a hopeful sign, however, the Supreme Court recently reversed the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision in Pavan v. Smith, which denied same-sex married couples’ the right to be named on their children’s birth certificates just as other married parents are (582 U.S. ____ (2017). We have seen many successes over the years, but more work will need to be done before all of our families have the recognition and security our children deserve. Not all couples marry, and not all states allow unmarried couples to adopt or provide other ways to establish legal parentage.

Studies consistently show that children whose parents have high conflict during and after divorce do not do as well as those whose parents work to reduce the conflict (see Farr & Goldberg, chapter 8, in this volume). Sophia is now 33 years old. Michelle and I live in the same community, and we are family. We often celebrate (p. 243) holidays together—Michelle and her partner, me and my partner, Paul, and Sophia. Sophia recently remarked of a friend whose parents were divorced: “He’s not as lucky as I am. They’re not like you. His parents barely speak.” While it is not strictly true that we never had conflict, we worked through the conflict with a great deal of intentionality and always prioritized Sophia’s needs above our own (see Gartrell & Rothblum, Conclusion, in this volume). Michelle and I continue to talk often and share our concerns, but more often our pride in who our daughter has become.

Discussion Questions

  1. 1. Put yourself in Michelle’s shoes. You do not have any legal relationship with a child you love, a child you are parenting. You are providing emotional, physical, mental, and financial resources, and yet your relationship is not recognized. What would it feel like if, for example, you were not allowed to pick your child up from school without a permission slip? Or if you had to worry that your child would be injured and you could not authorize treatment?

  2. 2. Put yourself in Joyce’s shoes. You are the biological and legal parent when your adult relationship ends. You have the option to refuse to allow Michelle to continue a relationship with your child. What would you do?

  3. 3. Would you take on a parenting role if you knew you could not gain legal recognition for doing so?

    1. a. If so: Would your lack of legal recognition change how you handled your relationship with the legal parent?

    2. b. If so: How would you handle the legal parent’s refusal to move forward with an adoption?

  4. 4. Imagine how you would negotiate the continuation of your relationship to your child if your relationship ended. Would you be allowed to continue the relationship? How would your child react to the termination of this relationship?


Adoption of Tammy, 416 Mass. 205 (1993).Find this resource:

    Barbash, F. (2016, April 1). Federal judge voids Mississippi ban on same-sex couple adoptions. Washington Post.

    Chasnoff, D. & Klausner, K. (Codirectors and Coproducers) (1984). Choosing children [Motion picture]. United States: Ground Spark.Find this resource:

    Goodridge v. Dep’t of Public Health, 440 Mass. 309 (2003).Find this resource:

      Howard, B. (2015, June 30). Regrets linger 30 years after gay couple had their foster children taken away. Boston, MA: WBUR.Find this resource:

        Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S.Ct. 2584 (2015).Find this resource:

          Polikoff, N. (1989–1990). This child does have two mothers: Redefining parenthood to meet the needs of children in lesbian-mother and other nontraditional families. Washington, DC: Georgetown Law Journal, 78, 459–575.Find this resource:

            United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675 (2013).Find this resource:

              Suggested Resources

              GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Family Law Advisory Council. (2011). Protecting Families: Standards for LGBT Families. Boston, MA: GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.Find this resource:

                Polikoff, N. (2009). Beyond (straight and gay) marriage. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Find this resource:

                  Schwartz, E. (2016). Before I do: A legal guide to marriage, gay and otherwise. New York, NY: The New Press.Find this resource:

                    Squillace, S. (2013). Whether to wed: A legal and tax guide for gay and lesbian couples. Boston, MA: Squillace and Associates, P.C.Find this resource:

                      Web Resources

                      American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

                      Family Equality Council.

                      Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

                      GLBTQ Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).

                      Lambda Legal.

                      National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

                      The Williams Institute (Research on LGBT parenting).


                      1. My daughter’s name and the names of her other parents have been changed in order to protect their privacy.

                      2. Civil rights director at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) in Boston, Massachusetts, and counsel for the plaintiffs in the same-sex marriage cases Goodridge v. Dep’t of Public Health (2003) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), among other important cases.