With “G” 20 weeks pregnant, a million things are running through our minds. We have so many things to sort out before the birth of our little one in August, and it feels like time is just flying. We’re slowly buying things and preparing things around the house, but our to-do list just keeps growing bigger and bigger every day.
During all of this, a few things have popped up that make us feel uneasy. We feel discriminated against as a two-mum family. I don’t even know if that really is how we feel, because discrimination is too strong of a word here, but we certainly feel like we’re being treated unfairly in this situation. Even though we are married (technically it’s a civil union or a Lebenspartnerschaft in German), and pay taxes as a married couple, currently, “G” is the only legal parent of our baby. I currently have no legal rights when it comes to the little one growing in “G’s” uterus, and this infuriates us!
Once our baby is born, then the process of adoption can start. Yes, you read correctly, I have to adopt “G’s” baby. What’s even more degrading, is that it’s not even a simple adoption… it’s called a step-child only adoption. If you’re interested, you can read about LGBT rights in Germany here and here. Additionally, there is more information on how gay adoption is strengthening in Germany in a DW article here, however our opinion is that Germany is still far from providing equal rights to all.
After “G” gives birth, we have to go to the Jugendamt (Youth Welfare Office) in our local area in Berlin, and apply for adoption. It sounds simple, but it is much more complex than this, and involves a notary, a written letter from “G” about her childhood, home visits, phone calls to “G’s” parents, and much more. This process could potentially take up to a year before I am the legal parent.
At the end of the day, we want what is best for our child, and this isn’t about personal gains or pride in any way. We want our child (and future children) to feel secure in their family, and know that if something were to happen to one of us, that they will be protected.
If this wasn’t enough for us take, we recently re-discovered that Germany isn’t a fan of double-barrelled names. When we got married in February 2015, we weren’t able to change our last names to a double-barrelled name because Germany wouldn’t allow it. It was a recent change in the law that couldn’t really be explained to us by the Standesamt (Registry Office). The woman who collected our paperwork said it was because they didn’t want children with double-barrelled names to grow up and marry someone with a double-barrelled name, and then just end up with a double-double-barrelled name. Who the hell cares?! What we could do though, was add my last name onto the beginning of “G’s” last name to create a double-barrelled name, but my last name had to stay the same. We agreed to this, because it is possible for me to change my last name in Australia, and it is simply not possible to change last names here in Germany. Again, I don’t know why this is the case.
Anyway, enough back story, it’s confusing. Basically, the reason I’m telling you all of this is because when our baby is born in August, he or she cannot have a double barrelled name. When we re-discovered this, our hearts sank. We wanted our children to have the same names as us.
Upon doing some further research and speaking with colleagues at work, there was a glimmer of hope. If one of the parents is a national from another country, the parents can choose to use the laws of said country. As I am a dual citizen of Australia and the United Kingdom, we had two countries up our sleeves with laws that allowed double-barrelled names. I recently legally changed my last-name in Australia to ensure that we all had the same last name. “Horray”, you might think. “Congratulations!” But unfortunately, the story doesn’t have a happy ending (just yet we hope). You know that whole business of me not being the legal parent until the adoption goes through after the birth of our child? Yes, you’ve probably put two and two together… it’s going to have an impact on us being able to use the Australian or UK laws for our children… at least here in Germany.
This post seems ranty, and upon reflection, I can see that it is. We genuinely don’t know what to do though. We’re hoping to reach out to others in similar situations to us, and others who know more about this. We all know that members of the LGBTQ+ community face discrimination on a daily basis, but this journey to parenthood has certainly opened our eyes to some of the administrative struggles that same-sex parents have to face to simply get on par. It is still so apparent that equality is far, far, far away from being achieved.