As promised, here is the second part of my round up of the biggest stories of the year. Follow me on Twitter, where I post almost every day, for all of the latest news as it happens.
7. Thailand abruptly halts international surrogacy. Amid reports of an Australian couple abandoning a newborn with Down’s syndrome, and a Japanese millionaire fathering more than a dozen children, the military government ended the practice of compensated surrogacy and refused to recognize the parental rights of foreign intended parents in August, leaving some families without a way to leave the country with their children. While compensated surrogacy was not technically legal there, Thailand had become an international destination for families seeking lower cost alternatives, particularly Australian, Israeli and British families.
8. The “Guncles” welcome their second child, a son, via adoption. Tori Spelling’s friends Bill Horn and Scout Masterson the gay uncles, or Guncles, to her four children, who were featured in Spelling’s various reality shows chronicling her life, welcomed their son Bosley Jo Masterson-Horn in September. He joins big sister Simone.
9. The European Court of Human Rights requires recognition of parentage via surrogacy. The Strasbourg, France based court held in June that it violates a child’s right to an identity to deny parental rights to intended parents via surrogacy. The pair of cases arose from France’s failure to recognize a non-genetic intended mother’s parental rights. It remains to be seen when and how this decision will be implemented across the 47 European states that are members of the court. However in December, the German high court ordered the government to register the birth of a child born via surrogacy to a gay couple. And in February Spain halted, but then resumed in July, consular registration of births via surrogacy to Spanish citizens. It is not clear the relationship between the ECHR decision and the German and Spanish actions.
10. Family Equality Council amicus brief gains national attention. During oral argument in August about the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s and Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage, Richard Posner, a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, discussed at length a friend-of-the-court brief filed Family Equality Council that highlighted the harm to children of same-sex couples when their parents’ relationships are not recognized. While sometimes cringe inducing, Judge Posner highlighted the importance of LGBT individuals’ and couples’ adopting children is to society. Mere days after argument, the court issued its opinion invalidating those bans, and in October the Supreme Court allowed the decision to stand, allowing Badger and Hoosier couples to marry.
11. Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam take steps to resume international adoption. Most inter-country adoption news these days involves countries closing programs, but the two Asian nations took steps to re-open the practice, with additional safeguards. The central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan closed its program after reports of corruption and bribery involving the minister who oversaw the program. The country's parliament enacted various reforms allowing the May announcement that placements would resume. Vietnam’s program had been closed for several years following reports of rampant corruption and abuse. In September, the US State Department announced it would end a ban on adoptions from Vietnam and the Southeast Asian nation announced it would begin accepting dossiers for a special needs program from two American agencies.
12. Texas boy inherits 11 frozen embryos. A two year-old boy in Dallas, Texas, became responsible for 11 frozen embryos, when his parents died in a car accident, a court determined. The boy’s parents apparently had not designated what should be done with the embryos in the event of their death in either the storage agreement with the fertility center or in a will. The judge appointed a law guardian for the embryos and ordered that the storage fees be paid until the boy reached the age of 18 and he could legally make decisions on his own. This case highlights the need for anyone who has frozen embryos, sperm, or eggs (whether their own or from a donor) to have clear advanced directives about their disposition in the event of the owner’s death.