The New Connecticut Parentage Law

Lisa Schuman, LCSW

Director of Mental Health Services, RMACT

The new Connecticut parentage bill will help “non-traditional” families feel more traditional. For many people, including fertility patients, single parents or LGBTQIA+ parents to be, and people who have medical conditions that require that they use fertility treatment to have a child, this law will clear up what should have been clear from the beginning. That is, to give all legal rights to the person who is parenting a child.

On the first Tuesday of this month, LGBTQIA+ Pride month, Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut signed the Connecticut Parentage Act into law. The law will take effect on January 1, 2022.

Some may argue that this law is merely symbolic and unnecessary. However, until now, Connecticut residents who fall into any of the categories I previously mentioned and were not genetically connected to their children, needed to adopt their children to have full rights as a parent. That means if the child is in an accident, their parent may not be able to make medical decisions for the child or even visit them in the hospital. If a couple co-parenting a child were to separate, the non-genetically linked parent may have very few or no rights regarding the child. Day to day issues such as negotiating the logistics of traveling, sharing benefits, coordinating documents at school or even registering the child for a program can cause stress and difficulties for the non-genetically related parent. Because the cost of adoption can be a financial burden, some families have opted out of claiming a legal connection to a child who is already theirs. Clearly this way of living and parenting is unfair and antiquated.

Another reason this law is important, which may just seem like the icing on the cake, is that this law will put one more stake in the ground towards changing societal views about how families are created. Long gone are the days where family meant the parents are a heterosexual couple. I see people every day who are building their families in all sorts of ways. And the best news? Increasingly, I hear fewer expressions of shame and internalized homophobia. Deciding to build a family in “non-traditional” ways not only takes money and effort, but it takes bravery.

And the bravery does not stop when the children are born. Questions about who is the “real parent”, judgmental comments and degrading stares can be part of your life if you decide to parent “differently”. Therefore, as laws are passed to formalize the idea that love makes a family, we move closer to making “non-traditional” family building more common in the eyes of the public and mass media. This moves us closer to making “non-traditional families” more traditional.