Whether you decide to adopt or have babies through assistant reproduction, you’ll want a judgement to approve your guardianship on your baby. In this episode of Daddy Squared podcast, we explore different types of legal guardianship with the help of Family Formation attorney Amira Hasenbush, JD, MPH.

For gay men who want to become fathers, it doesn’t matter if you choose to do it through assisted reproduction or adoption, you’re going to need a lawyer to protect your parentage. Some states now have administrative procedures where you don’t have to go to court, but Family Formation lawyer Amira Hasenbush warned against that.

“There’s something in the United States constitution called The Full Faith and Credit Clause,” and what that says is that judgement from one state has to be legally recognized in every other state in the country,” Amira explained on Daddy Squared podcast. “An administrative document is not a judgement. You want a judgement that protects your parenthood.”

In our interview with Amira we explored the various ways in which attorneys are involved in protecting parentage for gay men, from adoption, to nomination of legal guardianship, to surrogacy, which include, besides the contracts with the surrogate and egg donor, a judge’s order that your babies are yours.

“In some states you can get a pre-birth order,” Amira said, “that you get before the baby’s born. That’s what we do in California. The birth clerk uses that to put both of you on the Birth Certificate, from birth. And it will vary by state, even by county, as to what the judge is going to want to see. In California, if you do gestational surrogacy, meaning you have an egg donor, there’s a very clear statutory frame work of ‘these are the boxes you need to check’ and in most cases in California if you check all those boxes and the lawyer has put together all of the paperwork to say ‘yes we checked all those boxes’ you don’t even have to go in for a hearing.” 

“So some states will do pre-birth, some will do post-birth and there are states that from time to time will require some sort of adoption proceeding. So it’s really important that when choosing your surrogate, talk to lawyers where the surrogate lives and the baby’s going to be born.”

Talking to a family formation lawyer before you begin your journey to fatherhood can be helpful – no matter what route to fatherhood you choose. There are some family formation lawyers who only do assisted reproduction, some will only do adoption and there are many who do both. Amira advises to choose your lawyer from either AAAA, or The Family Law Institute, which is more specific for LGBT people.

In our discussion on adoption, Hasenbush explained the difference between step-parent adoption and second-parent adoption.

“Step parent histrorically was switching out the parents,” Amira explained, “it was usually, let’s talk historically, a different-sex couple, so you got mom and dad, they got divorced, let’s say kid goes with mom and mom gets remarried to step dad, so step dad wants to raise the child so they basically take out bio dad and replace, because you could only have two parents.”

“Then we had all these same-sex couples who couldn’t get married, and they said, well, we’re two parents, and we’d like to both be the parents of this child,” and that’s how second-parent adoption started, which is basically an adoption outside of marriage.

Amira also said that in California, starting in 2016, it was determined that we can actually file for more than two parents, and there are different ways to do it depending upon how things started – but that’s a whole other episode!


In this episode we also talked about godparents, and how it’s related to guardianship. We heard on the show Godfather stories from three gay men, Kyle from Texas, Armani from California and Jonathan from Wisconsin. Below are the full interviews with the guys.

Our Guest: Amira Hasenbush, JD, MPH

Amira Hasenbush is a family formation attorney, and the founder of All Family Legal in Los Angeles, California. She helps families through the process of surrogacy, adoption, sperm donation and egg donation.  Amira has chosen family representing all ends of the LGBTQ spectrum, giving her a deeper understanding of the special needs that may be involved for LGBTQ+ families.  Prior to taking her law practice full-time, Amira spent five and a half years as a Fellow for the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, where she did research and published reports on LGBT law and policy.  She graduated second in her class from UCLA School of Law and holds a Masters in Public Health from UCLA School of Public Health.  Amira has been published extensively and cited and featured in a variety of media outlets and journals, including the Boston Globe, ABC News, Time and the New England Journal of Medicine. She is an active member of the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association’s Family Law Institute, the chair of the Legal Advisory Committee for Men Having Babies, and the Family Law Section Liaison for the American Bar Association ‘s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

Guest Host: Daniel Vandenbark

Daniel is a single dad, co-parenting with his former partner to raise their son, Torbett, who came to them through open-adoption. Daniel founded his design firm over twenty years ago, designing custom interiors and waterwise landscapes for clients in SoCal and through the US. Daniel is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys sharing time backpacking, snowboarding and dadventuring with Torbett.

Men Having Babies

Men Having Babies is a community, nonprofit organization that helps gay men become fathers via surrogacy with education and financial assistance. In each episode this season, the team of Men Having Babies (MHB) will educate us on aspects of having kids through ethical surrogacy. In this episode, Sara Miller of the MHB staff talks about the role of the lawyer in the surrogacy process.

Episode Credits

Co-Hosts: Yan Dekel, Alex Maghen
Guest Host: Daniel Vandenbark
Guests: Amira Hasenbush, All Family Legal and Jonathan Fox-Haines, Kyle Loyd, Armani Ronaldo
Opening Theme: Hercules & Love Affair, “Leonora” buy here
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