The recipients and I were writing back and forth almost every day. They had never done an embryo transfer cycle and had some questions about the process. We kept each other updated on emails we received from the lawyer's office and the clinic. My wife Sonia and I also shared information about our children so Jenny and Erin had some idea of what to expect if a child resulted from our donation to them.
Aside from business matters like these we were also using email to get to know each other. Jenny wrote about their weekend activities and dreams for the future. We already knew they were child-centered, open-minded and thoughtful people. Now we were getting glimpses of their daily lives. It sounded like they had a lot of offer a child.
We had already agreed to contract terms. Sonia and I had no intention of erecting barriers to the donation. We had to trust Jenny and Erin to do the right thing for their family.
One thing was bothering me, however. Part of the reason we had chosen Jenny and Erin is their deep roots in their community. They were surrounded by loving, supportive family members and friends, all of whom seemed delighted by their plans. Another aspect we considered in our donation is the region in which they live. They would never be allowed to adopt a baby in their conservative Southern state. We offered one of the few ways they could have a baby.
The fact that they live in a state with anti-gay laws worried me. When their child was born only Erin, the birthmother, would have legal rights to their baby. Jenny would have to go through a second-parent adoption, despite the fact that I was donating to both of them. Why two adults in a committed relationship must ask permission to both take responsibility for a child they were raising was beyond me but that was the system.
If something happened to Erin before the adoption was finalized Jenny would have no rights to her own child. There was a way around this. There is a lawyer at RainbowLaw.com who has designed state-specific packets for all 50 American states. The packet includes a will, parenting agreement, health care proxy and authorization for treatment of minor child, among other forms. For only $250 RainbowLaw will customize these forms for each family.
I had asked Jenny and Erin how they would protect their family and they explained their intent to have Jenny adopt. They also mentioned a book they had purchased which helps gay and lesbian couples design their own legal agreements. I had gently mentioned RainbowLaw but they did not seem interested.
Do-it-yourself forms may be the most expensive legal advice they ever purchased. Without sound legal advice tailored to each situation it is too easy to make a mistake with the potential to destroy a family. I wished they would use the lawyer's forms instead of a general form in a book which might or might not be valid in their state. That book could have been outdated before it was even published if their state legislature passed some new anti-gay law.
Part of picking recipients is letting go. I did not want to be the precipitator of an ugly custody battle if something happened to one of the partners. But Jenny and Erin were adults. It was neither my responsibility nor my right to tell them how to best protect their family. And there was no child yet so this was all hypothetical at the moment. I simply had to trust them to do the right thing.