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September's Reproductive Rights Watch
Reproductive Legal Update
by Melissa Brisman, Esq.
September’s monthly Legal Update begins in North Carolina, where State Senator Julia Boseman won a legal challenge to her rights as an adoptive parent brought by a former romantic partner. Additionally, the update discusses reports out of Tunisia this month of a woman pregnant with 12 children and how things aren’t always as they are initially reported.
Bolstering the Legitimacy of Same-Sex Adoptions in North Carolina
A North Carolina State Senator, Senator Julia Boseman, just won a long and hard-fought legal battle to uphold her status as legal parent of a child she adopted with her former domestic partner, Melissa Jarrell. Boseman and Jarrell’s relationship began in August of 1998. Both women expressed an interest in having children. In October 2002, Jarrell gave birth to the couple’s child conceived through artificial insemination. In 2004, the couple discussed the possibility of Boseman adopting the child and, on August 26, 2005, a North Carolina Adoption Court entered a decree of adoption recognizing Boseman as a legal mother with the same rights and responsibilities as Jarrell, the birth mother and other legal parent.
Shortly thereafter, the couple’s relationship deteriorated. By May 2006, Boseman and Jarrell were separated. Jarrell limited Boseman’s contact with the child, prompting Boseman to file a complaint in the District Court in New Hanover County, North Carolina. Boseman’s complaint requested that Jarrell retain primary custody of the child but that Boseman have secondary custody with liberal and extensive visitation. Jarrell responded to the complaint by seeking to void the August 2005 adoption decree under North Carolina law.
Jarrell argued that the adoption court had no statutory authority under North Carolina law to enter a same-sex adoption decree. Without proper jurisdiction, the order issued by the court was void at its inception and should not be upheld. North Carolina law contains residency requirements but is otherwise silent as to the marital status or sexual orientation of adoptive parents.
The trial court rejected Jarrell’s arguments and Jarrell appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals who issued a decision in this case on August 18, 2009. The North Carolina Court of Appeals noted that the sexuality of the adoptive parents was not a factor in the decision whether to grant the adoption:
- “[T]he adoption here was not explicitly a same-sex adoption.” The purpose and goal of North Carolina’s adoption law is to promote the best interest of the child and the record of the adoption proceedings here demonstrated that the adoption was in the best interests of the child.
Thus, the North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld the validity of the adoption decree.
Significantly, the North Carolina Court of Appeals noted that the result would have been the same whether Jarrell and Boseman were a same-sex or heterosexual couple:
- “While [North Carolina adoption law] does not specifically address same-sex adoptions, these statutes do make clear that a wide range of adoptions are contemplated and permitted, so long as they protect the minor’s ‘needs, interests, and rights.’”
Woman Pregnant with Twelve Babies a Hoax
This month people were shocked at the news out of Tunisia when a 34-year old woman announced she was pregnant with a record-breaking 12 children. The woman, a teacher, reported that she conceived the babies following fertility treatments and that she was carrying six boys and six girls. The woman described her pregnancy as a “miracle” and stated that she and her husband “feel blessed after struggling so hard to have children.” The husband, a 40 year old man named Marwan, reported that in the beginning they believed that they were only having twins, but more fetuses were discovered. They report that she is now nine months pregnant with all twelve children.
Physicians speculated that she may have undergone ovulation induction treatments which stimulate egg production, but allows far less control over the number of fertilized eggs than in vitro fertilization. Physicians also cautioned that the pregnancy was extremely high risk.
Only a few days later, the U.K. Daily Mail exposed the woman as a fraud. An investigation by the Tunisian health ministry indicated that she is not psychologically sound and, likely, is not pregnant at all. The woman refused to undergo a medical examination. Both she and her husband have disappeared from public view.
Melissa B. Brisman is an attorney who practices exclusively in the field of reproductive law and is considered by her peers to be a leader in her profession. Ms. Brisman’s experience and qualifications are unparalleled. She employs an experienced and qualified staff of legal and administrative professionals and is licensed to practice law in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
Ms. Brisman has a practice, Melissa B. Brisman, Esq., LLC, located in Montvale, New Jersey, offering a full range of legal services in connection with gestational carrier arrangements, ovum, sperm, and embryo donation, and adoption. In addition, Ms. Brisman is sole owner of Reproductive Possibilities, LLC, an agency that facilitates gestational carrier arrangements, and Surrogate Fund Management, LLC, a company that manages escrow in connection with reproductive arrangements.