Help Us Declare Our Parenthood in NC

When Christi and I began talking about our future together several years ago, we both envisioned a family with a couple more children. After months of meeting with doctors, working on our health, and seeking a donor, we finally found out we were pregnant with twins in December 2013.

Although we met with a lawyer briefly before the procedure, life got hectic and we didn’t continue to pursue legal paperwork. When we finally sat down with a local law firm dedicated to the LGBT community, we discovered how much more we had to do and just how much was at stake.

You see, we went about the pregnancy a bit differently than some. When talking about a family, we both recognized that Christi really wanted to have a biological child. However, she was unsure of her ability to carry a child for a myriad of reasons. I loved being pregnant with my daughter and was more than happy to carry again. After months of shots, medications, and invasive procedures for both of us, we implanted embryos made from Christi’s eggs and an anonymous donor’s sperm into my uterus.

Here’s the question: When it comes time to fill out the birth certificate at the hospital, what will we write on the “Mother” and “Father” lines? Under North Carolina law, only one of us can be on the birth certificate.

We are legally married and share all aspects of our lives together, including the care of my daughter from a previous marriage. These children are genetically Christi’s, but I have carried them and love them as my own blood. Christi is more than an egg donor, and I am more than a surrogate. We entered this endeavor together, with the intention of parenting them together.

So who is listed on the birth certificate? I am, since I carried the children.

However, Christi – the boys’ biological mother – has to carry legal documents at all times stating that she has the right to make decisions about her children, just in case someone wants to challenge her parental rights. This still does not guarantee that these rights will be honored in all circumstances.

Since second-parent adoption is no longer legal in North Carolina, the best solution, advised by our lawyers, is to file a birth order declaring us both to be the parents, thereby allowing both of our names on the birth certificate. This requires significant work by the lawyers, including, among other things, gathering affidavits from all doctors involved in this process. The birth order will likely be rejected when submitted to Vital Records because we are a same-sex couple. What follows will then be a series of appeals that will likely head to the highest NC court.

This is where we are asking for help from you, despite our pride and hesitations. The fee to pursue the birth order is $3,200. We aren’t able to afford it at this time due to all of the other expenses that we've covered in preparing for the twins. However, we feel that this fight is extremely important to our family and to other LGBT families who simply seek the right for their child’s birth certificate to represent their complete family.

Before proceeding with this campaign, we confirmed with our lawyers, and they have agreed to work with us on any further appeals. They want to take this as far as possible. One of the lawyers was involved in a similar case years ago where the clients ultimately decided not to pursue the appeals process, but we all agree that it is a different world now than 5 or 10 years ago. Things are changing. People are changing. And our laws need to reflect the reality that many LGBT couples are raising children in loving and committed relationships.

We’re hoping to raise $3,400 to account for some of the fees taken out in the GoFundMe process. We appreciate any amount you can give, as well as your words of support and encouragement. If we happen to collect more than the needed amount, we will donate the remainder to Equality NC to help further their work in the LGBT community in North Carolina. If successful in collecting enough funds, we will keep everyone posted on the progress of our case. Please also feel free to contact us for additional information about our lawyers or this process.

Please help us take a stand. Please help us both be recognized as the legal parents of the children we dreamed about those years ago. Please join us in the fight to gain greater rights for the LGBT community in NC.

Thank you,
Jennifer and Christi
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Organizer

Christi Heuer 
Organizer
Durham, NC
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