FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The 9-year-old Kentucky girl calls the woman “nommy” and bears her middle and last name. They lived in the same household until the girl was 4, and “nommy” once carried the child on her insurance plan.
But they are not biologically related. The girl’s mother — the woman’s ex-partner — became pregnant in 2006 with the help of a sperm donor, according to a court record that identifies the women and child only by their initials. The women ended their same-sex relationship in 2011, and now the biological mother has cut off contact with the other woman and married a man. That man is trying to adopt the child, and the other woman is trying to block the adoption before the Kentucky Supreme Court.
It’s one of several cases across the country involving wrenching personal questions about what it means to be a parent under today’s ever-changing definition of family in the eyes of the law.
While the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide earlier this year, the ruling hardly settled the myriad family law issues surrounding the custody of children. Compounding the problem, the definition of “parent” differs from state to state, leaving same-sex parents with no biological connection to a child vulnerable to losing parental rights.
“The law does not fit the reality of these families,” said Joyce Kauffman, a Massachusetts-based family law attorney who specializes in LGBT issues. “If there is no way that your parental relationship with the child can be recognized by the laws in the state where you live, you’re in trouble.”