As if two gay men adopting a baby didn’t come with its own special issues, C and I have the additional difficulty of being a bi-national couple. C is French and I am American. This doesn’t cause much problems for us in the U.S.; C has his green card and thus can adopt like any citizen. The problem is in France. The French government does not allow gay couples to adopt. So, when we adopt here in the U.S., C will not be able to have the French government recognize the adoption. This is somewhat problematic for him/us in that in France property is inherited through lineage, rather than through wills which is how we customarily do it in the U.S. So, as it stands now, any of C’s property would go to his parents and siblings, not to his partner and child. There is also the issue of wanting our children to have dual citizenship so that, if the occasion should arise, we can move to France.
But, it is clear from what we learned from various sources in the French government that this will not be possible. Technically, C could adopt the baby first and then go to the French consulate and ask to have the adoption recognized. While they probably wouldn’t grant a single parent in France to adopt, they might recognize it if it were done in another country. After the child had received citizenship, I could then do a second-parent adoption. (In New York State, we can both adopt on the original birth certificate.) While this is technically possible, we don’t feel comfortable doing it, both for practicality and for the principle of the thing. If in the time that only C is the legal parent, something happens to him, there would be problems. So, this “solution” does not work at all.
We are coming to terms with the probability that – at least for now – our children cannot have French citizenship despite having a French parent. The good news is that if French law were to change and the government were to allow adoption by same-sex partners, then C could adopt the child in France and everything will be just dandy. Even better than that, this can happen at any time in the child’s life … so if it took 25 years to get legal adoption in France and the child is an adult, C could still adopt.
Most disturbing, though, is that because French law would not recognize us as parents, we might run into trouble if something happens to one of us or the child while traveling in France (which we do on a yearly basis). The man at the French adoption agency said that normally foreign laws are recognized for tourists in a case such as adoption, but in our case it is a very fragile recognition. It is possible, then, that someone (like a French social worker, doctor, nurse, etc.) could cause a fuss and the child taken away from us! While the likelihood of this is small (i.e., something would have to happen to us, like getting sick or hurt, and on top of that someone who is so morally offended by our family would have to contact the government), it is still quite frightening. It made us realize that we want to travel internationally with our children and that we need to be careful about where we travel and need to know our rights and what to do if there is ever a problem. Our next step is to talk to someone in the U.S. State Department to find out the protocol for bad things happening to our family in foreign countries.
We are hoping to connect with other bi-national parents or any parents/families who have traveled internationally …