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Lesbian mother helps make change in paternity cases

Parents in New Orleans could learn from a paternity suit out of Colorado that was the first to rule in favor of a lesbian mother named Wendy.

In 2006, the parents decided to adopt two biological sisters. Because of state law at the time, the gay couple could not both be listed as parents. Each woman, therefore, became the legal parent of one daughter.

The couple ended their relationship three years after the adoptions, and the trouble started. Wendy's ex decided to leave the country for Norway and took one daughter with her, making it unclear if Wendy and the other daughter would ever see the girl's sister again.

In addition, due to the fact that the parents of the daughter had limited rights because of their sexual orientation, the custody case became more complicated than usual. Until recently, non-biological parents could not file paternity suits so Wendy's options were limited. However, a case of a non-biological father who was seeking custody came out, and Wendy decided to amend her filing.

After speaking with a judge in court, Wendy persuaded him into believing paternity should be equal and all parents have a right to fight for their children. Non-biological parents who have served as a parent for a child should be able to have the same rights to file for paternity.

After a ruling by the judge, the pair is continuing to work out shared custody and discuss parenting issues, even though they live in separate countries. Wendy says her other daughter appears to be happy with the decision and still calls both women her mother.

Other states could be on their way to ruling the same as the Colorado judge, and Wendy said she is happy to be one helping make a change. She added the ruling helps make it clear that children are in need of parents, no matter the sexual orientation.

Source: ABC News, "Colorado Lesbian Wendy Alfredsen Mom Granted Paternity in Custody Battle," Colleen Curry, May 4, 2012

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