Today’s Guest Post is Gena Jaffe, the Founder of connecting rainbows, an organization that helps those in the LGBTQ+ community start, grow and protect their families by offering legal and fertility resources. They provide a directory of attorneys, fertility clinics, and surrogacy agencies and a blog and vlog to learn from the experts and real families. You can find her on Instagram and learn more about her business at connectingrainbows.org.
LGBTQ+ individuals and couples have many hoops to jump through when it comes to general rights and freedoms. Many new challenges and legal battles can arise; many people don’t even think of or know about it.
My wife and I did reciprocal IVF to have our children — her eggs, I carried. When I was a couple of months pregnant, I learned that we would need to hire a lawyer if we wanted to ensure both of our parental rights were secure. Even though I am an attorney, I had no idea that we both would not be considered legal parents of our children after birth. It turns out, being on the birth certificate is not enough to grant full legal parental rights to a same-sex cis couple across the United States.
I, as the gestational mother, was considered the legal parent. That means my wife, the biological mom, had to adopt her own biological children to be seen as an equal parent in the eyes of the law and protect our family no matter where we happened to move or travel in the United States (or in the event of death or divorce).
Fortunately, we live in a state that did not require a home study, but several states require a social worker to come into your home to evaluate whether you are fit to be a parent.
I found that this was an issue most people had no clue about – even lawyers. So I set out to provide free resources and education to the LGBTQ+ community. I launched a business called Connecting Rainbows. It is a database of attorneys who specialize in family formation law AND are well versed in working with the LGTBQ+ community because our needs are different than those of heterosexual couples. We also provide fertility resources to help start, grow + protect your family.
I didn’t realize there was such a need for this in my community — the response has been excellent. There are so many legalities that can arise when LGBTQ+ individuals or couples want to have a baby using a known sperm donor or going through surrogacy. And finding an attorney that specializes specifically in the family building is essential. One that knows how to work with the gay + queer community is imperative – and, often, difficult. So my goal is to remove the stress + overwhelm in finding a lawyer to help. Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community comes with enough hurdles – keeping your family together and safe shouldn’t be one of them.