Step One

I’ve been reaching out to family law and adoption attorneys since the election.

The other day, our president elect said that gay marriage has already been decided by the supreme court and that it’s a done deal. In almost the same breath, he promised to overturn Roe v Wade, which is also a supreme court decision and so should also be a done deal by his own logic. So excuse me if I have a hard time believing that my family is (legally) safe from the repercussions of this man’s pending administration.

Since we were married at the time of Charlotte’s birth, we are eligible for a streamlined second parent adoption in California. I have learned that all that really means is that we’re exempt from a home study. That’s great and all, but it doesn’t have the tremendous impact on the bottom line that I had hoped for.

It is going to cost us $2700 for Catch to adopt Charlotte. Her own daughter—by decree of both Charlotte’s birth certificate and every contract we signed at the fertility clinic. Everything I read online said $2-3k, but I saw folks in other states who were looking at figures closer to $1500, and I was really hoping that’s where the ball would drop. Obviously not.

I’m grateful at the moment that we only have one Charlotte, because if we had to pay for two (+!) adoptions, I’d probably say fuck it and insist that we just take up residence on a deserted island far, far away and live off of coconut.

I have no idea how we’re going to come up with $2700. I am contemplating opening an Etsy shop and selling knitted things, but I have so little time these days and knitting takes so long—I don’t know that I’d even be able to put a dent in it.

I’d sell a kidney, but I have a feeling I’m going to be drinking a lot over the next 4-8 years, so it’s probably best if I keep them both.

I know we’ll figure it out. We always do. And honestly, I feel like I’m using the financial burden as a crutch because it is so much easier to focus on $2700 than it is to focus on the big picture—the extreme prejudice of this incoming administration. Many, many people in this country have far more to fear than Catch and I, and their fears can’t be remedied with cash.


29 thoughts on “Step One

  1. I am so sorry, Molly. I’m not at all familiar with CA family law, but is there any way to do it without a lawyer? We can in MA.

    Another idea (sorry if you were just venting and didn’t actually want advice) is to bundle it with other estate planning if you need to do wills or power of attorney or health care proxy in the event of overturning marriage equality. When I adopted Clem, our lawyer gave us some of those services for “free” so I could claim them as a deduction or credit (I forget which) on my tax return. Because, as it turns out, adoption expenses are covered when [the government thinks] you’re unmarried. Or they were five years ago. Still unjust, but it was a silver lining last time my family went through this.

    • Initially, I thought we could DIY this, but the more I read, the more intimidated I am by the process. All of the web sites about it say, “It’s complicated–consult with an attorney.” So it’s not that you CAN’T do it yourself, it’s just that it seems highly recommended that you don’t. We’re still exploring our options, though. Catch is trying to find some people in the NGP groups who have been through this process in CA.

  2. It will happen. One way or the other, I know it will. I have good feelings about things for y’all. I’m not sure what either of you do for a living, but my job has adoption assistance that, while it won’t front you the money, it will pay you back once it has all gone through. If you have that, you could take out a loan and then pretty quickly pay it back as well.

    Another option would be to do a GoFundMe type of thing. There are a lot of people who would (me included) donate to your family to help cover the costs, especially since the urgency to do it now is related to Trump-tastropies. Shoot, I’d pass it around to all my friends and try to make it go viral. Any way I can help, I will. 🙂

    • You are so sweet–thank you for the kind words. It looks like we’re going to try filing this ourselves! I’ve had some great feedback here and on Facebook about how to go about it–hopefully we can figure this out and save ourselves a lot of money.

  3. You may want to look up to see if there’s an LGBTQ Bar Association or other queer legal group in your area (The LA LGBT Center would be a good place to start) who might be providing free clinics on this stuff. That’s how I got the info I did and while I’m nervous, I also feel like I have enough info and back up to do it on my own. It really might save you $$. You can often have them look over the documents you prepare to make sure they are all correct and get the legalese translated enough to understand things. It’s another thought.

  4. Friend, I know this feeling all too well. Having to put together close to $7.5K absolutely sucks. It is absolutely the worst thing that has happened to us in a long time. Our loan from our parents for a down payment on a new home for my ridiculously large family is now our adoption loan for my ridiculously large family! It sucks so bad. I’m hoping ALL of us find some type of’s just really terrible…

      • I couldn’t agree more! And it’s just so sad and disheartening to see so many of my two mom/dad families struggling to bust thier piggy banks open, pool their resources and get adoptions for their kids. I WILL say though, to see our community and our allies band together to get this work done has really been heart warming. It break my heart that some people don’t have support and i feel like my hands are just so tied right now with wanting to help, but managing my own life…

      • Can you bundle, at least for the twins? In WA you can file one petition for multiple kids, as long as they have the same gestational parent. Also, WTF that either of you would have to do anything with the littlest because UM you BOTH contributed biologically?! Ugh I am so fucking sick of this shit!

  5. Oh please don’t shell our that kind of money without trying to do it yourself! We just dropped our paperwork off at the courthouse in Alameda County and it cost us $20. We just submitted the following:

    You together fill out:
    ADOPT-210 (filled it out, but may not be necessary bc under 12)

    You each fill out:

    You need copies of:
    Birth certificate
    Marriage or DP certificate (whichever you got earliest)
    Evidence of using a sperm donor (California Cryobank knew exactly what type of legal letter to prepare for us).

    Haven’t heard back yet, but people on the Queer Mamas Facebook group have said they have been successful doing themselves.

    • This is exactly what I needed to see. In ALL of my searching I have not found ANYONE who said “we did it ourselves!” Thank you for speaking up! I have all of the forms sitting in front of me at my desk already because I fully intended to do it myself before I consulted the internet. The attorney I spoke with this morning said we also need a letter from our fertility clinic since we did IVF. For the birth & marriage certificates, did you need certified copies or just copies?

      • A letter from the clinic would probably be good too, just to cover your bases. We brought the original copies of our DP/Marriage/Birth certificates, but the clerk only wanted regular copies. We don’t know the outcome yet, but I don’t think that they are going to throw out our file if there is an omission or something that can be easily corrected. The clerk told us that the file will basically be sent to a social worker in the family court and could be approved in less than a month. I think for step-parent adoptions that are really clear cut under the Modern Family Act (e.g. you used a sperm donor from a bank and were married when you conceived) it doesn’t even go to a judge. This probably depends on your county (LA/Alameda/SF are probably a bit easier).

      • The attorney did say that LA county’s adoptions division is undergoing some changes and things are taking longer to process. She told us to expect a minimum of 3 months. In LA, the case does go before a judge, but you are not required to be present.

      • Sorry for all of the random messages lol, but I just wanted to let you know that we just got a call from the social worker assigned to our case today (we filed on Monday) and she said not to sweat the missing forms and said all she needs is the letter from the Cryobank and she will approve it the next day. You can totally do this 🙂

      • YES! The silver lining to all of this is that queer lawyers and other empathetic, smart people are trying to help people where they can. A lawyer in our local mom group put together a clinic – there MUST be something similar for y’all. She’s even volunteered to field questions and make some amendments to paperwork. I want to help you find this kind of thing because it’s been SO helpful for me!

    • THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this! I just printed out all of this earlier today because with 3 there was no way we could afford it. I wasn’t sure what the filing fee was so this helps. We are in Stanislaus County and I was going to try it myself first.

  6. First, I think this is ridiculous. I do not understand how your own wife has to adopt your daughter that you are clearly raising together!! That said, I really hope you can do it yourself!! It would be awesome to save that money!
    Sending love. And if you end up having to fundraise please let me know. I will absolutely help. 😊

    • And I love you all the more for that. ❤ We'll sort it out, though… fortunately, we are in a much better place to sort it out than MANY others. And I'm honestly not above emailing our Trump-supporting family and demanding that if they are adamant about loving Charlotte and Catch that they should put their money where their mouth is. 😉

  7. I feel you so much as you know. If it weren’t for fundraisers put together for us and fellow blog Mamas we would be screwed. As is now we still aren’t sure it will cover it but it will get us started. It totally sucks. I hope a) you can do it on your own (we can’t here) and b) our fundraising efforts raises so much money we can help our friends.

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