Custody issues challenge same-sex parents

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It took four years before Laura McAlpine could legally adopt the daughter she had raised since birth. McAlpine and her former partner had Amalia after her partner was inseminated with a friend’s sperm. Four years later, laws were enacted that allowed McAlpine to legally adopt her daughter.

Laura McAlpine and Jeanne Kracher, with their daughter, Amalia.

“After the adoption went through, I called my mother and told her she’s officially a grandmother,” McAlpine remembers. “She said, ‘I didn’t need a court to tell me that’ and I thought, ‘Well I did.'”

But challenges lay ahead. A year after the adoption was finalized, McAlpine and her partner split up, leaving them to figure out how to handle issues such as custody and visitation without the intercession of the courts.

“Even though we had done the (second parent) adoption, there’s no process for divorce because there’s no legal marriage,” McAlpine says. “Right from the beginning, we wanted joint custody, but we needed help to figure out how to do that.”

From the beginning, they decided to put their child first, even when McAlpine became involved with her current partner. “We always spend Christmas morning together and Mothers’ Day, with the four of us. We’ve tried to work hard at this,” McAlpine says. “Even in the worst of the times, our attempt was always to put her first.”

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