But the decision was not without complications.
“After about a year of investigating all the options and implications for a same sex couple, including fertility counseling and support from a Washington LGBT [Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender] center,” says Amy Rohe, 36, an attorney with Arnold & Porter in Washington, DC, “we decided to pursue artificial insemination through a local sperm bank.”
Amy and her partner Rebecca, a tax accountant, chose a sperm bank because of the information it offered about its donors, including photos, interviews, medical background, and consent for the child to learn about his/her biological father upon turning 18. “To us, all that was important,” says Amy.
After more than a year of trying that included eight IUI (intrauterine insemination) cycles, Rebecca became pregnant in the fall of 2006 on her first try with a new donor. Unfortunately, she had a miscarriage in her first trimester. The couple were saddened but determined. Rebecca conceived again soon afterward.
“On August 1, 2007, our incredible son Jake [Jacob Robert] was born and changed our lives forever,” says Amy.
But a further complication was that Amy had no legal parental rights. “Because the laws leave couples in our situation so unprotected, it was essential to us that I adopt our son as soon as possible after his birth,” said Amy, who changed her last name to be the same as Rebecca’s so they would have a single family name.
Obtaining the second-parent adoption, which altered the birth certificate to list a “mother one” and a “mother two,” was a fairly extensive process, says Amy, who herself does product liability litigation and criminal defense law. “We had legal bills of almost $5,000. That was a significant addition to our costs.” Rebecca’s health insurance company had not covered the cost of the fertility treatments, considering them not medically necessary. “Fortunately, Arnold & Porter offered an adoption benefit of up to $5,000 to allay the costs, and even covered the taxes on the benefit for us.”
The financial assistance was a wonderful gift, says Amy, as was a six-week paid parental leave. And the comfort of having a subsidized, nurturing day care center two floors below her office is a tremendous benefit. “My son loves it here, and he learns so much in his classroom,” she adds. “And it is comforting to know I can see him or take him to lunch any time.”
But she is most grateful for how she can be so open about her personal life while pursuing her legal career at Arnold & Porter, which she joined in 1998 upon graduating from The George Washington University Law School. “I came out while working here,” says Amy, who is a member of Arnold & Porter’s gay affinity group, which counsels and recruits prospective gay job candidates.
“Diversity is a core value at Arnold & Porter,” says Janet Robin, chief human resources officer for the law firm. “We believe that each individual has the right to work in a professional atmosphere that promotes equal opportunity.” The firm offers medical and insurance benefits to domestic partners and their children, and the fertility benefits and adoption assistance are available to all employees, regardless of marital status, age, or sexual orientation.
“To recruit and retain the best talent, we feel that it’s important to offer the best benefits package to support our employees in all aspects of their lives,” adds Robin. “We are committed to maintaining appropriate policies and programs that promote work-life balance, consistent with the individualized needs of our colleagues and the needs of our clients.”
Arnold & Porter: A Family Who Benefited|
May 27, 2009
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