Photos of impish babies hugging their protective dogs, proud middle schoolers holding skis and clarinets, bemused teenagers towering over their now comparatively tiny parents – these Holiday Greetings cards form the adoption highlights of 2018, and of every year, for me.
The intense relationship my adoptive parent clients develop with me during their emotional path to parenthood creates a lifelong intimacy that moves them to confide triumphs and challenges in their children’s lives. Years after finalizing an adoption in court, I have received phone calls asking advice about navigating an open adoption arrangement with birth parents, facing first year college blues, and inviting me to a performance by a young person who has become a recorded singer-songwriter. These cherished contacts remind me of the uniqueness and ordinariness of adoptive families.
“I rejoice in the miraculous and ordinary relationships of the parents and children who entered each other’s lives, and mine, through adoption and surrogacy.”
In surrogacy, too, I create ongoing bonds with intended parents. I recently spoke with clients, who were the intended parents of a four-year-old born through a gestational surrogacy. They had created embryos with their ova and sperm through IVF before the intended mother underwent successful treatment for cancer. Later, the embryos were transferred to a gestational carrier, who carried and gave birth to their son. My clients expressed joy about their cherished child and told me about their openness with their friends, family, and community about the way he entered their family through surrogacy. Here was another reminder of the many paths to parenthood, creating families that are unique, yet conventional.
The surrogacy highlight of 2018 was the enactment of the New Jersey Gestational Carrier Act, which I had the privilege of helping to draft. The new law legalizes compensated gestational surrogacy in New Jersey, providing for enforcement of gestational carrier agreements, protection of all the parties, and a predictable mechanism for creating legal parentage for intended parents and the children created through surrogacy.
As we enter the new year, I rejoice in the miraculous and ordinary relationships of the parents and children who entered each other’s lives, and mine, through adoption and surrogacy.