Calling the decision “a victory for nontraditional families,” Attorney Suzanne Friday says Dauphin County Judge Todd Hoover’s February ruling that two women in a long-term committed relationship were the legal parents of twins prior to their birth is the first of its kind in central Pennsylvania. Friday practices with Nauman, Smith, Shissler & Hall, LLP, Harrisburg.
The couple, choosing to remain anonymous in order to protect their children, decided on the action in order to fully establish that each is a legally recognized parent of the twins born to the biological mother. The twins were born in Harrisburg in March 2008.
The legal step taken by the couple is commonly called a “pre-birth order,” a move that establishes who is a parent and/or legal guardian before birth actually occurs. The couple’s legal steps to establish pre-birth parenthood took the form of a Petition for Assisted Conception Birth Registrations, a step advised when, as with this couple, an anonymous sperm donor was used to fertilize eggs from the biological mother in an in vitro fertilization procedure.
After reviewing the women’s request for assisted conception birth registrations, one of whom is carrying the twins and is the biological mother, Judge Hoover decided that both women must belisted as the legal parents on the children’s birth certificates, and that no father is to be listed on the birth certificates.
The pre-birth order process has been commonly used for traditional couples using gestational carriers, when someone else accepts conception and carries a baby to full term birth for a couple known to each other and who have a biological connection to the child. In contrast, same-sex couples often had to pursue a second parent adoption after birth to secure legal rights for the non-biological parent. By granting a pre-birth order to a same-sex couple in this case, the court recognizes that a biological connectionis not always necessary to make a family.
“Supporting the idea that two loving parents, albeit nontraditional ones, are more beneficial for the child, the decision is encouraging news and a groundbreaking development for nontraditional families,” Friday says.