You are listening to an excerpt from Ask the Experts on Talk 860 WWDB AM with weekly guest, LGBTQ legal expert Angela Giampolo.
Today’s topic is all about the rewards and pitfalls of adoption for LGBTQ singles and couples.
Angela and host Steve O discuss:
- The details and difficulties of adoptions, especially for LGBTQ parents
- The foster care system
- The pitfall of the various types of artificial insemination
- The process of adopting your partner’s child from a previous relationship
- How a co-parenting agreement and parenting plan can be beneficial and save you lots of conflict
And much more!
Speaker 1 (00:00)
You’re listening to an excerpt from Ask the Experts on Talk 860 WWAM with weekly guest LGBTQ legal expert Angela Giampolo. Today’s topic is all about the rewards and pitfalls of adoption for LGBTQ singles and couples. Angela and host Stev O. discuss the details and difficulties of adoptions, especially for LGBTQ parents. They discuss the foster care system, the pitfalls of the various types of artificial insemination, the process of adopting your partner’s child from a previous relationship, and how a coparenting agreement and a parenting plan can be beneficial and save you lots of conflict.
Speaker 2 (00:47)
Hey, good morning, Philadelphia. Today is the Ask the Expert Show where I’m with you every Tuesday from ten to eleven with some of the top experts in their field. And as we’ve now become, our very first show each week is with attorney Angela Giampolo. And today we’re going to be talking about the LGBTQ community las it refers to family law. Good morning.
Speaker 3 (01:23)
Good morning, Steve. How are you?
Speaker 2 (01:24)
Oh, my God. You have a different background today.
Speaker 3 (01:27)
There’s palm trees and all of the things. So the Chihuahua is still with me. I still got the boss, but I am in Coronado Island.
Speaker 2 (01:40)
Oh, okay. So let’s tell everybody about your firm.
Speaker 3 (01:46)
Sure. So Giampolo Law Group was founded in 2008. I feel like I get older and older each week. Well, I am getting older and older each week when I say that. And it was founded really to fill a hole in legal services where I saw a lot of my friends at the time seeking out legal counsel and having to go to lawyers that either were flat out not comfortable with the fact that they were gay and they had to sort of leave that at the door upon entering if they were going for corporate stuff, real estate stuff, whatnot? Or they just didn’t make a safe place for the LGBTQ community, even if it had to do with adoptions or especially pre marriage equality, the dissolution of a relationship and how you got divorced when there was no divorce law and you had all these lawyers that were not LGBTQ and or allies, ultimately assisting the LGBTQ community. So I found a Giampolo Law Group to do just that.
Speaker 2 (02:51)
Well, what you’ve done with your firm is amazing. And I got to tell people I love sharing this that you are looking to expand your educational program and try to just educate people that don’t understand about the LGBTQ community. And I got to tell you, I have learned so much myself from this show, and we just want to pass that along to others.
Speaker 3 (03:29)
Yeah. So it’s twofold. I’m expanding both the law firm nationally and our first expansion state will be Arizona and then down in Florida. And by March of 2022, we hope to be in at least twelve states, if not more so. So there’s that piece where just the law firm itself will be expanding and we’ll be able to help people in the LGBTQ community in a lot more states other than just Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But additionally, from the education piece, I am building out a curriculum geared towards lawyers to literally rectify the problem that I saw 13 years ago, which will allow me to teach lawyers who want to learn specifically on how to serve the LGBTQ community. What are the practice areas that impact us the most and what’s unique about those, what’s nuanced about those and ultimately create more lawyers and more states and that are able to serve the LGBTQ community with integrity.
Speaker 2 (04:43)
I think what’s so amazing is you’re going after not just the big metropolitan cities, you are going to sink your teeth into these southern States and Midwest States.
Speaker 3 (04:56)
Well, I feel like that’s where it really matters. I mean, I got my third email from different, obviously different couples, but my third couple from Birmingham, Alabama. There must be nobody there. And I did I did a Google search. Like last week, we talked about the fact that in Houston there’s seven pages of lawyers with an LGBTQ page on their website. They may not actually know how to serve the LGBTQ community, but they knew to throw up a webpage in Birmingham. There’s not even that. And so here they are, Googling, and they’ve come upon me in their Google search in Philadelphia. And thankfully, I do know someone who’s licensed down there. He does live in San Francisco, but he’s licensed and can help them. And so I was able to pair them up with him. Likewise, a professor in Hawaii from the University of Hawaii. And there’s nobody on his island that can serve the LGBTQ community or that he feels comfortable disclosing that, too. So he’s actually reached out to lawyers, had meetings, and then got a vibe where he didn’t feel comfortable actually disclosing anything personal and just hung up and ended the consultation so that’s someone who actually did find lawyers thought that they would be okay.
Speaker 3 (06:14)
And then after the consultation, didn’t feel comfortable. And from Hawaii, he fell upon me. You throw a rock and hit a gay lawyer in New York, like, who cares, right? You throw a rock and you hit a gay lawyer in Seattle or San Fran. So they don’t need me. Ultimately, the folks in Birmingham or little islands or rural towns, that’s who needs me.
Speaker 2 (06:38)
Well, we’re going to be talking about family law today, but you also do real estate law, employment law, and estate planning, too.
Speaker 3 (06:47)
Yeah. So real estate law came naturally. I myself own a bunch of properties in Pennsylvania and really saw it early on as a diversification of investments. And it really parlays hugely with estate planning. So estate planning, almost everybody owns either one piece of property, if not two, but they at least own the home that they live in. So estate planning, real estate is sort of a natural extension of that. Plus from a business development and investment side of things. I also work with developers and contractors and whatnot, because I’m in that world myself, personally, employment discrimination forever. And unfortunately, moving forward, that’s never going to end. And then transgender name changes. That’s very unique. County by county, state by state. New Jersey is totally different from Pennsylvania on that. And then, of course, family law, which involves adoptions as well as divorces and dissolutions.
Speaker 2 (07:59)
One of the things we’re going to talk about today is adoptions. And does it vary from state to state? Because I can definitely see adoption. It’s got to be a huge topic within the LGBTQ community.
Speaker 3 (08:17)
We’re not forming families unless we’re adopting at some point, whether it’s from surrogacy or private adoption or foster care. But yes, it varies greatly from state to state. Again, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are very different in how they handle adoptions. And the biggest piece, especially for my couples that are using known sperm donors or surrogates. And every state has a different amount of time from which the gestational mother, the woman giving birth, and or the biological parents, if it was a known sperm donor, the putative father a certain amount of time from which, when they sign the consent. So consent to terminate their parental rights from when they sign that consent to the day that they can appeal. So you have 30 days in Pennsylvania from the date that you sign that in which that person can appeal. That that’s a long time to wait. If you’re the parents and you have a child for an entire month and you’re just sitting there and pins and needles.
Speaker 3 (09:30)
You have other States that are 372 hours versus 30 days. So people tend to want to shop around for the smallest window possible where the person can basically go back on their consent to terminate parental rights, which is huge. The other piece, which it can be different, both federal and state. So during the Trump administration, we saw a lot of pushback on LGBTQ parents being able to adopt either in foster care or through religious agencies like Catholic Family Services. We saw that go all the way up to the Supreme Court in Fulton. So there are states where it’s really just federal. But if you’re dealing with a religious institution, you may be discriminated against. They don’t view it as that, but we do. And so it varies. You have to know who you’re going through, the institution that you’re using, as well as the state that you’re in, and the state specific laws around, especially consent to terminate parental rights.
Speaker 2 (10:47)
How sad would that be to fall in love with a baby and 30 days later possibly have to give it back in foster care?
Speaker 3 (11:00)
That happens all the time. And we’re talking after years. I mean, the parents who go through the foster care system to find kids are the most admirable, in my opinion, because they face that potential consequence after years of bonding with a child, and then all of a sudden the biological parents or parents come back and say that they’ve recuperated from whatever it is, be it drugs or maybe they’re out of prison or what have you, but they go back to court and they show that they are an upstanding citizen, that they can be a parent. And the best interest of the child is always reunification with that biological parent. And so, unfortunately, in the crosshairs of that are loving parents who spent two, three, four years bonding with that child. So whether it’s 30 days or four years, it’s just as dramatic ultimately when you think you have a child for the rest of your life and then that’s taken away. But yeah, it’s very difficult. So one of the things I like to tell clients is I will meet them where they’re at in the sense that if they want to use a known sperm donor, that’s absolutely fine.
Speaker 3 (12:26)
We go down that process. But there are levels of which it’s safer legally, right? There are methods that are much safer legally. So unknown sperm donor in a medical facility is the safest way to go. Now, obviously, that is only helpful for women. Men are still left with surrogacy, very expensive methods available to them. But for women, unknown sperm donor in a medical facility, the safest. There is nobody who’s going to come back. And there are no parental rights to terminate because you paid for that unknown sperm, basically. And then the next is unknown sperm donor, but not in a medical facility. So the law gives deference if a doctor actually did the insemination, because now we can prove that sperm 1234 was inseminated with doctor so and so and that there was nothing in between. So conception could not have occurred in any other way because we can prove that chain of title, if you will. If you do unknown sperm donor but not in a medical facility, we can’t necessarily prove that something else didn’t occur. Right, because it left the cryobank but didn’t actually have a physician do the IUI or whatnot.
Speaker 3 (13:57)
And then when we get into the known sperm donor, that’s when it gets dicier. I don’t want to say dangerous, but definitely dicier where we need the termination of parental rights petition and we need those consent signed, and everybody still needs to be in agreement nine months later after the baby is born.
Speaker 2 (14:23)
I don’t understand. With all the foster kids out there and there’s a lot I mean, all different age groups, is that hard to adopt a foster child on the board of the National Adoption Center?
Speaker 3 (14:41)
Which is actually headquartered in Philadelphia, despite being nationwide, it was founded in Philly, and they specifically deal with foster kids. And the tagline is there are no unwanted children. There are only unfound families. And really, I love that from the get go. And what a lot of people don’t realize is in Philadelphia, so the nationwide statistic is 40%, but 47% of kids in foster care are LGBTQ.
Speaker 2 (15:18)
Speaker 3 (15:18)
So let that land 47% of children in foster care LGBTQ and identify as such. And nationwide, 40% of kids in foster care LGBTQ. And that’s because they were kicked out for being gay, trans basically for coming out. And so then they get disowned, they get kicked out, become homeless, and ultimately end up in the foster care system. And so one of the things that I worked on the board was doing parent cafes where we took LGBTQ parents who had adopted through the foster care system and then LGBTQ parents who were interested in adopting through the foster care system and put them together in a meeting, a panel, and have the parents who have gone through it talk about it, and then have all the prospective parents ask whatever questions that they had. So to answer your direct question, is it hard to adopt through the foster care system? It is not. You have to go through a process of getting cleared as being a safe foster care parent from the clearances to a home study and other things. But once you get certified to be able to adopt through the foster care system, then it just becomes about matching you and going to prospective parent events, which obviously during covid went away.
Speaker 3 (16:55)
So foster care adoption went down greatly because we weren’t able to put the kids and the prospective parents together. So, no, it’s not difficult. And from an LGBTQ perspective, very rewarding because I know that if I were to adopt through the foster care system, I would absolutely adopt an LGBTQ child like a seven year old or eleven year old. And my dream is to just adopt 17 year olds right before they age out of foster care and let them know, listen, I’m not mom, you don’t have to come home for Christmas if you don’t want, I’m adopting you right before you age out of foster care. So you don’t end up on the streets because there’s nowhere to go at 18, ultimately. So these kids after 17 have a whole new set of issues at 18. So I want to adopt 17 year olds and give them a place to call home if they want it, but ultimately save them from the next difficulty, which is 18 to 20.
Speaker 2 (18:00)
And tell people how they can reach you at your office.
Speaker 3 (18:04)
Speaker 2 (18:07)
Angela, I was wondering what if a spouse or a partner already has a child? How does the other partner adopt them?
Speaker 3 (18:18)
Or can they adopt them so they can adopt them ultimately in that situation? So you meet someone and they have a twelve year old, right? They already have. In this case, we’ll make them a lesbian couple. So there’s another putative parent out there, right. That twelve year old either has a biological father, mother, through adoption what have you. So the government wants for every child to have at least two parents ultimately. And that’s like the goal of the government. They’d never want to prevent people from her children rather from having two parents. And so if you meet someone who has a twelve year old or another child, I don’t know, I’m making it twelve. But if they have another child, that other parent, the parents before you met your partner would have to agree to terminate their parental rights instead of adding.
You can’t add a third person to the birth certificate here in Pennsylvania. We’re working on that because again, the goal of the state should be to have as many parents as possible for a child. But there are other states that are working on that. In New York, California, whatnot but a lot of my clients that come to me, the original that other parents tend to be an absent parent or an abandoned parent or not around.
Speaker 3 (20:00)
And so you can go through the adoption process and if that person is willing to terminate their parental rights or you can force like you can actually sue and attempt to terminate someone’s rental rates. The other way is and I’ve had a couple of clients do this where they’re a lesbian couple comes to me or a lesbian rather comes to me where she was in a long term relationship with another woman, had a child together, but they never did the second parent adoption back then. So unknown sperm donor. So there is no parental right to terminate ultimately. And there’s only one person on the birth certificate that gestational mother who gave birth. And so then years later the child was 26 when we did the second parent adoption. And so she finally when the child is old enough to consent, you don’t need so in this case, the two women were estranged from one another and the one didn’t want the other one to be able to adopt. But as the child got older and identified this person as mom just like the other mom, they could make their own decision on that and they absolutely wanted the person to adopt them.
Speaker 3 (21:21)
So at 26 years old, we did a second parent adoption and it was really cute. I brought a onesie to court and the book The Places You’ll Go and we treated it like a baby adoption. And then we all went out to dinner and drinks afterwards. So there are multiple variations of how that can look. But yes, if you can adopt a 31 year old, another situation that I had was a child at a foster care exactly like what I described, but met the person at 21, 22, 23 something around there and took him under his wing and ultimately ended up adopting them to just provide that legal relationship and that structure. So it can look a lot of different ways.
Speaker 2 (22:15)
I hope I get this right. Is there an agreement, a co parenting agreement?
Speaker 3 (22:21)
So I recommend having co parenting agreements. Just like I recommend having prenups when people are getting married, then ultimately, if a relationship ends and you can’t agree on what to do regarding custody, ultimately then you’re going to end up in court over custody. And then that’s what we see really hurt children over time is that battle over who is going to have a child when and what, the sharing of weeks and weekends and holidays and all of the things. So a parenting plan is just like a premium. It’s something that you come up with prior while you’re very much lovey dovey in the relationship and there’s no thought that the relationship will ever end. But should it end? And while we’re rational human beings, this is what we think would be in the best interest of the child. Obviously, any abusive and drug and alcohol issues aside, when one parent has those problems and obviously you need to fight for custody for the best interest of the child. But a lot of times it’s really the divorce piece and the acrimony within the relationship that is causing the custody issue. So a parenting plan is something that you come up with.
Speaker 3 (23:52)
It literally talks about everything that you can imagine that has to do with parenting from, like I said, down to holidays and weekends pick up time, right? Is it 04:00p.m.? Every Wednesday is at 03:00 p.m.? If you’re going to be late, do you call or do you text? Literally. It assumes that in the future you will absolutely hate each other and not want to talk ever. And so if you’re unable to speak ever to one another, this document should be able to literally map out everything having to do with how to parent the kids without you ever having to speak again. So down to whether you text or call if you’re going to be five minutes late, that’s all pre written. I think they’re fabulous and super helpful. And I’ve seen clients do it. And seven years later, when they need it, be over the moon about it that they didn’t have to come up with those decisions seven years later.
Speaker 2 (24:47)
Is it hard to find an LGBTQ friendly adoption agency? There can’t be a lot of them.
Speaker 3 (24:58)
Totally. I mentioned the National Adoption Center. Look them up. I believe it’s adoption.org. They bought it in the 70s. When? A long time ago, I guess before Al Gore invented the Internet. I don’t know when they got it, but they got it. It couldn’t have been the 70s, but they got it right away. Anyways, they are a watchdog. They are a national watchdog. And they have a specific arm where they oversee. They receive complaints regarding different agencies. So if you have any question as to whether the agency that you’re dealing with is LGBTQ friendly, reach out to the National Adoption Center, adoption.org. And they have years and years and years of research and if you don’t feel like doing the research just contact them and say here’s where I live in the country and I need an LGBTQ safe and friendly adoption center and they’ll give you options.
Speaker 2 (26:01)
Now, if your grandparents or parents, brothers, sisters and you have somebody that you know you’re close to that’s in the LGBTQ community, I want you to write down Angela’s phone number because if you can’t tell by now she has got such a big heart for this. She knows what she’s doing and you can feel so comfortable sitting down with her. Give everybody your phone number.
Speaker 3 (26:41)
Sure. 215-6452 415
Speaker 2 (26:41)
So she is going to be going into other states she’s going to go into Arizona next but it doesn’t matter if you’re in another you have a relative another state. Give her office a call because she can either help you or you up.
Speaker 3 (27:06)
Yes I can match you up with someone that is safe for you to go to.
Speaker 2 (27:11)
Absolutely and it’s so important and what I’ve learned with that there’s a lot of attorneys out there that stick that up on their shingle. We do LGBTQ but they know nothing. It’s kind of a marketing plan for them but anyhow Angela, thank you so much and we will.
Speaker 1 (27:35)
See you next week back in Philadelphia be sure to tune in every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. When Angela Giampolo is the guest on ask the experts on 860 WWDB. A. M. And online at WW DB am.com. Thank you.