Allies at the Ready: How Quick Thinking Helped Build a Family Through Adoption
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by Michelle Nobriga, JD, MBA, Director of JFCS’ Adoption Connection

For many aspiring same-sex parents, the path to building a family through open adoption was once littered with discriminatory, out-of-state legal barriers. Couples were often forced to make the heartbreaking decision of which partner would adopt as a single parent first, with the other initially labeled as their “roommate” on paperwork. The emotional turmoil was agonizing but accepted as the only option at the time.

Two male parents enjoy a meal with their adopted son and daughter.

However, for some lucky couples in San Francisco, hope emerged when the city briefly issued same-sex marriage licenses in 2004. This move would eventually be overturned by the state Supreme Court, but an estimated 4,000 couples married during that window—including two dads who would later be guided to parenthood by Adoption Connection.

In 2008, after completing their home study, the couple was chosen by an expectant mother from another state who was specifically seeking two dads to adopt her baby. They immediately traveled to meet her, and a beautiful relationship was forged between all parties. The out-of-state agency approved their home study without the discriminatory “roommate” amendment, and all signs pointed towards a positive outcome.

With consents signed, the monumental task of obtaining interstate clearance began. Hit with an initial denial based on “no legal authority to clear a same-sex couple,” Adoption Connection refused to accept this discriminatory stance. In response to Adoption Connection’s request to review the case, the state’s legal department challenged them to produce a marriage certificate.

Two male parents setting the table with their adopted son and daughter.

In a make-or-break moment, Adoption Connection’s coordinator called the dads, who were huddled in an out-of-state hotel room: “Please tell me you ran to the San Francisco Clerk’s Office and got married between February and August of 2004!” They responded with a resounding: “YES!” This would be the golden key that unlocked the door to parenthood.

With their 2004 marriage certificate faxed over, the legal roadblocks crumbled. After overcoming tremendous obstacles, the two fathers were finally able to bring their daughter home to California, their long journey rewarded with the ultimate prize—a loving family.

For LGBTQ+ couples facing daunting challenges, having a tenacious ally like Adoption Connection is invaluable. Working with an adoption professional who has the expertise and is also creative and quick-thinking will always prove to be the most beneficial investment while navigating the adoption journey.

This article originally appeared in the May – June 2024 issue of Gay Parenting Magazine.


As a full-service agency and national leader in domestic open adoption, Adoption Connection has facilitated successful adoptions for more than three decades.

A nonprofit program of Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, and Sonoma Counties, Adoption Connection has assisted with over 3,000 infant adoptions throughout its long history.

To learn more and apply, visit our website or call 800-972-9225.


Posted by Admin on June 7, 2024