Same-sex couples seeking to have children, whether through adoption or assistive reproductive technology, have always faced more roadblocks than other couples. These roadblocks are gradually being removed. This month, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) removed another one.
The agency announced a policy change that allows babies born outside the U.S. to or for a married couple using methods like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and surrogacy to be eligible for U.S. citizenship if one of their parents is a U.S. citizen and at least one parent is biologically related to the child. The biological parent does not have to be a U.S. citizen.
Why the old policy largely affected same-sex couples
Prior to the policy change, the U.S. citizen parent had to be the child’s biological parent. That made it impossible for some same-sex couples to get citizenship for their child since often only one parent is biologically related to a child conceived using assistive reproductive technology. The new policy can also help other couples where one parent isn’t able to contribute genetically to a child.
In a statement announcing the policy change, USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou said, “We are committed to removing unnecessary barriers promoting policies for all people as they embark on their journey to citizenship and beyond.”
Changes came after lawsuits
The change made by the USCIS follows a similar change made by State Department this spring. That change revised a nearly 70-year-old policy that predated the widespread use of assistive reproductive technology and the legalization of same-sex marriage by decades.
The policy changes follow several federal lawsuits by same-sex couples who alleged that their children were unfairly denied U.S. citizenship. The previous administration had fought those lawsuits and defended the now-defunct policies.
The head of a group that advocates for the rights of LGBTQ immigrants praised the USCIS change in policy, calling it “an important step in overcoming the federal government’s previous archaic, narrow, and unlawful definition of what a family is.”
Having a child through IVF and surrogacy, even when there’s no question of citizenship, can be a complicated and emotionally fraught endeavor. Having experienced guidance can help you avoid some of the pitfalls.