End of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell not good enough for local gay coupleWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
A Toledo area couple isn’t hopeful that the end of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on Sept. 20 might lead to a change in adoption laws. That helps the military, but not the everyday gay couple who wants children together, according to Amy Zawacki.
Zawacki and her partner Heather Guinn have been together for five years, but only Guinn is the legal parent of their 18-month-old twin boys, Max and Mason.
“That frustrates me. We got birth certificates when the babies were born and I am not on the birth certificates,” Zawacki said. “I know I have no legal rights to them.”
Ohio law prohibits gay couples from adopting together. It also prohibits a same-sex partner from petitioning to adopt a partner’s child. Zawacki agreed that Guinn would carry the boys, who were conceived through an anonymous sperm donor, because her partner is 36 years old and wanted to carry a baby before she got too old.
The couple would like to use the same sperm donor in the next year and have Zawacki, 29, carry the baby or babies. That way, “they will be blood relatives, half siblings,” she said.
“Adoption was never a choice,” but the decision had nothing to do with the adoption laws, Zawacki said. “It is really expensive after we did some research.”
The couple decided that using an anonymous sperm donor would be best for them.
“We didn’t want to know the sperm donor. We didn’t feel comfortable knowing there was a guy in our life who knew he was the father of our children,” she said.
The most frustrating thing for the couple is the boys can’t be on Zawacki’s health insurance, who is the only working parent. Guinn quit her job as a teacher to stay home with the boys because the cost of day care did not outweigh her income.
The only reason the boys are insured is because they were born premature and are on state insurance for now. Guinn is uninsured.
Zawacki said the best hope to become the boys’ legal parent and insure them is a repeal of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA is a law that basically says if there is a gay marriage in New York and then you come to Ohio, Ohio doesn’t have to recognize it, Zawacki said.
For a time, Zawacki served on the EqualityToledo board, which advocates for gay rights. She left her position because of the babies, but she and her family will be there on Aug. 27 at the Toledo Pride event in Downtown Toledo.
Zawacki said she wants her sons to know their moms are proud of their sexuality and their family.
“It is important to me. I don’t want to be poster child and I am much more comfortable than Heather is, but I think it is important because one day our kids are going to be in school and it makes me nervous that they might be bullied because they have two moms. We have to be proud of who we are so our boys are proud of who we are.”