Tag Archives: adopt

Maine governor uses clout to adopt dog wanted by a private citizen

A woman is angry with a shelter for breaking its own rules to give Maine Governor Paul LePage a stray dog the day before the dog was put up for adoption.

Donna Kincer, development director of the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society, acknowledged the Jack Russell terrier mix was supposed to be made available a day later and on a first-come, first-served basis.

“The governor walks in your front door and it sort of shifts things a little,” Kincer told the Sun Journal, acknowledging elected officials get special privileges over ordinary citizens at her shelter.

Kincer said she hoped for good publicity from the governor’s adoption of the rescue dog from Louisiana.

LePage is a right-wing extremist who was dubbed “America’s craziest governor” by Politico. His positions on a wide range of issues have put him at odds with the Legislature in a state known for centrism. As a result, LePage is Maine’s veto champion.

With that in mind, the governor, who refused to attend a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast and then told the NAACP on camera to “kiss my butt,” named his purloined dog Veto.

But what was a happy moment for the governor, who thinks windmills are run by electric motors, proved heartbreaking for Heath Arsenault. She burst into tears upon learning the governor adopted the dog she wanted.

Arsenault said she’d been going through an emotionally difficult time and hoped the adoption would boost her spirits. She’d already talked to shelter staff about the adoption and she’d taken the day off from work to be first in line when the dog now known as Veto became available for adoption.

“I felt like they lied to me,” she said.

Meanwhile, the governor’s family had been looking for a new dog after the death of LePage’s Jack Russell named Baxter.

The governor’s family alerted him to the dog after spotting him on the shelter website. The governor visited the shelter the day before Arsenault had hoped to adopt him.

“He just stopped in to see the dog,” said LePage spokesman Peter Steele. “He was very pleasantly surprised when (the shelter) allowed him to take the dog home.”

Arsenault says the shelter was wrong to give the governor the dog he wanted while other people must wait in line.

“No one should be given special privileges, even if they are the governor,” she said.

PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford dies

Jeanne Manford, the founder of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – the organization that adopted so many LGBT people and helped so many come out as the parent of an LGBT kid – has died.

The gay rights pioneer was 92. She died at home in Daly City, Calif.

A statement from PFLAG’s national executive director, Jody Huckaby: “Today the world has lost a pioneer: Jeanne Manford, the founder of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and the Mother of the Straight Ally movement.

“Jeanne was one of the fiercest fighters in the battle for acceptance and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. It is truly humbling to imagine in 1972 – just 40 years ago – a simple schoolteacher started this movement of family and ally support, without benefit of any of the technology that today makes a grassroots movement so easy to organize. No Internet. No cellphones. Just a deep love for her son and a sign reading ‘Parents of Gays: Unite in Support for Our Children.’

“This simple and powerful message of love and acceptance from one person resonated so strongly it was heard by millions of people worldwide and led to the founding of PFLAG, an organization with more than 350 chapters across the U.S. and 200,000 members and supporters, and the creation of similar organizations across the globe.

“Jeanne’s work was called ‘the story of America…of ordinary citizens organizing, agitating, educating for change, of hope stronger than hate, of love more powerful than any insult or injury,’ in a speech by President Barack Obama in 2009.

“All of us – people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight allies alike – owe Jeanne our gratitude. We are all beneficiaries of her courage. Jeanne Manford proved the power of a single person to transform the world. She paved the way for us to speak out for what is right, uniting the unique parent, family, and ally voice with the voice of LGBT people everywhere.”

The family requests that any donations be made to the Jeanne Manford Legacy Fund to support the ongoing work of PFLAG National: 1828 L Street, NW, Suite 660, Washington, DC 20036.

Princess minded surrogate children for gay couple with visa troubles

When friends of Norway’s Crown Princess Mette-Marit couldn’t travel to India to welcome their surrogate twins into the world, the royal stepped up, minding the gay couple’s newborns for three days and even being mistaken by hospital staff for a nanny.

In a statement from the Royal Court, the princess described how she had flown to New Delhi on Oct. 23 after visa problems prevented the children’s Norwegian parents – a same-sex couple – from arriving at the hospital in time for the birth.

“There are times in life when one finds oneself in a complex situation where there are few or no good solutions,” she wrote.

“For me the core of the matter was that there were two newborn babies who lay alone in a hospital in Delhi. I was the one who was able to travel. It was important to me to help in any way I could.”

She stayed to mind the babies until relatives – and eventually also the two fathers – could get to the hospital.

One of the men is an employee of the royal household and a good friend of Mette-Marit’s. The twins arrived in Norway last week. Hagen did not identify the couple or give the genders of the babies.

The court said the travel was paid out of the princess’ private funds.

Mette-Marit, 39, became Crown Princess of Norway and the country’s future queen after she married Crown Prince Haakon in 2001. They have two children, and Mette-Marit has another child from a previous relationship.

Marianne Hagen, a spokeswoman for the Royal Court, said that despite Mette-Marit’s title, her royal status does not exempt her from other countries’ visa regulations and the princess also was required to seek one for her visit to India. “If a visa is required, then it’s also required for a crown princess,” Hagen said.

She also confirmed that staff at the Indian hospital had mistaken the royal for a nanny. 

Surrogacy is illegal in Norway, but it is not illegal to seek a surrogate mother abroad and bring the child back to the Nordic country.

The loophole has sparked a debate in Norway, but the princess said her reason for traveling to India was purely personal and that her trip “was not intended to be a contribution to this debate.”

KKK wants to join adopt-a-highway in Georgia

A Ku Klux Klan group wants to join Georgia’s “Adopt-A-Highway” program for litter removal, which could force state officials to make difficult decisions on the application.

State officials could be forced to choose between approving the request, denying it and facing a likely legal fight or ending the state’s 23-year-old Adopt-A-Highway program. The program features road signs for groups who volunteer to help beautify state highways.

At issue is an application filed by the International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Union County involving a one-mile stretch of Ga. 515 in the Appalachian Mountains.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is reviewing the request. State officials plan to meet with lawyers from the state Attorney General’s Office on June 11 to decide how to proceed.

Gay marriage law could produce adoption boom

First comes love, then comes marriage. Now adoption lawyers and agencies in New York say they’re getting ready for a baby boom as same-sex couples emboldened by the state’s new gay marriage law take the next step and try to adopt children.

New York will allow same-sex marriages beginning July 24, becoming the most populous state to legalize such weddings. Thousands of couples are expected to tie the knot.

The state already permits unmarried couples, both gay and straight, to adopt children. But a wedding ring is an important milestone in a relationship – and can also bolster a couple’s case as they try to impress social workers, adoption agencies and birth mothers during the often competitive adoption process, couples and adoption experts say.

“It’s sort of the next natural progression,” said Jonathan Truong of Brooklyn, who decided to adopt a boy after marrying his longtime partner, Ed Cowen, in Canada. “You have that feeling of wanting to be in a family.”

Experts won’t know for sure whether adoptions have increased in the five other states, plus Washington, D.C., that have legalized gay marriage until the results of the 2010 census are released this year, said Gary Gates, a demographer at the Williams Institute, a think tank at the University of California-Los Angeles.

But nationwide, about 19,000 gay couples had adopted children as of 2009, he said. That’s up from 10,700 couples in 2000 – the same year Vermont began offering civil unions and four years before Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.

“I think they will feel more entitled to be a family under the new law,” said Susan Watson, director of U.S. adoptions at the Spence-Chapin adoption agency in Manhattan.

The prospect has alarmed conservative religious groups that consider same-sex relationships and parenting immoral.

“Sanctioning such unions as ‘marriages’ only makes the violation worse; and adding children to the mix, worse still,’ said Avi Shafran, a spokesman for the Agudath Israel of America, an Orthodox Jewish group.

For lesbian couples, the road to parenthood is relatively easy. All that’s needed is a sperm donor or a cooperative male friend who will agree to terminate parental rights when the baby is born. The other partner then adopts her partner’s child through a “second-parent” adoption.

The new marriage statute will make the second-parent adoption unnecessary under New York law. But most adoption lawyers are recommending that parents do it anyway to protect themselves if they travel or move to a state that doesn’t recognize gay marriage.

“The state where you’re vacationing may not see things the same way,” said Nina Rumbold, an adoption lawyer.

For men or for women who can’t conceive, the process is more complicated.

Cowen and Truong said the urge to start a family began after they got married in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2005. They looked into hiring a surrogate mother, but that route was expensive and fraught with legal hurdles. New York prohibits surrogacy-for-hire, so they must be done in another state.

Adopting from another country was a difficult option because most countries bar same-sex couples from adopting.

The couple decided to try for an American baby and began the months-long process of applying to be parents. There were forms to fill out documenting both men’s background and finances. Then a social worker came to their Brooklyn apartment and did a long interview.

Next came the hunt for a pregnant woman looking to give up her baby. To get around the long waiting lists at many New York adoption agencies, many couples advertise themselves directly to mothers through classified ads and websites.

Cowen and Truong bought newspaper ads and rented a toll-free number. Worried about spooking young mothers, they hired an answering service to explain to callers that they were a gay couple.

They were surprised to find that many didn’t care.

“A lot of them were brought up without a father in the home, and so they really miss their father and they think the idea of two fathers is amazing,” Cowen said.

Other mothers felt that two working men made the household more financially secure, he said. Truong manages the laboratory at a hospital, and Cowen owns an advertising firm.

Less than a year later after starting the application process, the two men were the proud fathers of Franklin, now a bubbly 2-year-old. Truong is “Daddy” and Cowen is “Dada.”

New York’s new marriage law comes as several other states are wrestling with the issue of adoptions by gay couples. In April, an Arkansas court struck down a ban on such adoptions. Arizona, meanwhile, passed a law giving heterosexual married couples preference.

In Illinois, a Catholic organization that licenses foster and adoptive parents is suing the state over a law barring discrimination against gay or unmarried couples. Three Catholic dioceses have suspended their adoption placement services, following the lead of Catholic charities in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.

“Children do best when raised by a married mother and father,” said Peter Sprigg, a policy adviser for the Washington-based Family Research Council, which has fought gay marriage. “Mothers and fathers contribute to the parenting task in unique ways.”

In New York, the new marriage law contains a clause allowing religious groups to deny “accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges” to same-sex couples. That should allow church-affiliated adoption agencies to deal only with heterosexual couples, avoiding the legal controversies that have flared in other states, Rumbold said.

Same-sex adoptions in New York date to 1995, when a state court decision cleared the way for all unmarried couples to adopt.

A 2009 Census Bureau survey showed no evidence of an increase in the percentage of same-sex couples adopting in Massachusetts after that state legalized gay marriage in 2004. But the sample was so small – only about 100 couples – that estimates are very imprecise, Gates said. Figures from the 2010 Census should offer a more accurate look.

The Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange, a group that educates families about adopting foster children, said it has seen a rise in the number of same-sex couples seeking information since 2004. They now account for 381 of the 3,360 couples in the group’s database, or about 11 percent.

Vincent Russo, a spokesman for Connecticut’s probate court system, said judges in that state have noted an increase in same-sex couples adopting since gay marriage was legalized there in 2008.