This has been a big year for adoption and assisted reproduction in the news. Here is the first half the run down of the biggest stories of 2014. To stay on top of all of the latest news, follow me on Twitter.
1. Jimmy Fallon welcomes a second daughter. The late night entertainer and his wife announced the birth of their daughter Frances on December 9th. She joins older sister Winnie. Both daughters were born with the assistance of a surrogate.
2. USCIS announces new rules for transmitting US citizenship for children born via assisted reproduction. It has long been the case that in order for a child born outside of the United States to automatically become a US citizen at birth, the US citizen parent, or parents, was required to prove a genetic link to the child. New rules confirm that gestational mothers can transmit US citizenship to their children, if the woman would be considered the child's legal parent under the law of the country of birth. This is an important change for US citizens living outside of the country who rely on egg donation to build their family.
3. Wisconsin becomes the first state to ban re-homing. The sad truth is that some adoptions fail, particularly when the child is older and has special needs - needs that the adoptive parents may or may not have been aware of at the time of placement. Reuters shone a spotlight on this harsh reality, and the adoption community responded by emphasizing the need for pre-adoption education and post-adoption support. One of the most troubling aspects of the Reuters investigation was a discussion of "re-homing," the practice of informally placing a child with a new adoptive family or in some cases just transferring physical custody of the child. Lawmakers in Wisconsin responded by prohibiting advertising for the adoption or transfer of custody of a child over the age of one year by anyone other than a licensed professional, and requiring court approval.
4. Jason Patric's custody battle. Former Lost Boys actor Jason Patric and his on-again-off-again girlfriend Danielle Schreiber agree that she became pregnant via IVF with the help of sperm provided by Patric - and that's where the agreement ended. Patric said the plan was that they would co-parent the child, she says he was merely a donor. After two years of battling it out in the courts, including a trial and multiple appeals, Patric was declared a legal parent of son Gus, now 4. Whether this was the correct conclusion or not, it emphasizes the need to make their intentions clear and put them in writing in order to avoid misunderstandings and to provide guidance for the courts should things fall apart.
5. New Hampshire enacts comprehensive surrogacy legislation. The Granite State became the most recent to codify the practice of gestational surrogacy in a bill signed by Gov. Hassan in July. The statute permits married and unmarried couples to access the process, families can use their own sperm, eggs, or embryos or those from a donor, and if all conditions are met a pre-birth order must be issued by the courts. Similar legislative efforts to legalize surrogacy stalled in New York and the District of Columbia and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed a bill in 2014.
6. Arkansas judge who released information about Charlize Theron's adoption is disciplined. Former Faulkner County Circuit Judge Mike Maggio was disciplined for posting a slew of racist and sexist comments on an online message board about Louisiana State University athletics. He also revealed confidential information about actress Charlize Theron's adoption of her son Jackson, although Maggio did not personally supervise the case. Given the severity of the offenses, the Arkansas Supreme Court concluded that the most appropriate sanction was a lifetime bar from judicial service in the State of Arkansas.