YPSILANTI – Seventeen month old Meil Bogart swept through the Frenchies reception hall, laughing with delight and charming each person in their turn. She was the happiest, most beautiful child, with everything going her way – seemingly perfect health, two parents who adore her, and an extended network of supportive adults capable and willing to provide for her needs and to help her reach her dreams.
She doesn’t know her family is different. All she cares about now is what really matters to someone her age: who loves her, who she can trust, and upon whom she can depend.
The people at the Coalition for Adoption Rights Equality, Inc., or CARE, know that Meil will learn – all too soon – that having two mothers puts her family at risk. Only one of her parents, her biological mother Jan Bogart, has any legal connection to Meil. Her other mother, Pamela Bogart, has no legal connection because same-sex couples in Michigan can almost never become co-parents through second parent adoption.
CARE is committed to making it possible for Meil and thousands of children like her to have access to their same-sex parents’ healthcare, pensions, social security benefits, inheritance and many other protections that a child should be entitled to receive from both parents.
“A bill has recently been introduced in Lansing that would allow for second parent adoption,” Jane Bassett, president of CARE, told about 50 supporters at a fundraiser May 16 at Frenchies in downtown Ypsilanti. “We need you to lobby your legislators now.”
Pamela and Jan Bogart intend to do just that.
“I worry about what would happen to Meil if something happened to Jan,” said Pamela. “I have no legal connection to Meil, no formal custody and I don’t know how I would protect her. That’s not right for our child.”
Jan and Pamela also worry about the threats to domestic partner benefits offered by Michigan’s state universities since the passage last fall of Proposal 2, the anti-marriage constitutional amendment. When she gave birth to Meil, Jan took an unpaid year off work from her job as a mechanical engineer at General Motors, and Jan and Meil were able to get health insurance under the domestic partner benefits of Pamela’s policy through the University of Michigan, where she is a teacher of English as a second language. Jan has since gone back to work at GM, and Meil remains under Pamela’s health policy.
Meil, which means honey in French and Spanish, giggled at the BTL photographer as he tried to get a family shot for this story. When he showed her the digital proofs, she beamed and shouted, “Mama and Mommy!” She’s clear about who is her family. Now if only the state would be so wise.
The second parent adoption bill has been introduced by State Rep. Paul Condino (D-Southfield). Current co-sponsors of the bill include: Marie Donigan (D-District 26), Chris Kolb (D-District 53), Alma Wheeler-Smith (D-District 54), Steve Tobocman (D-District 12), Alexander Lipsey (D-District 60), Jim Plakas (D-District 16), Fred Miller (D-District 31), George Cushingberry, Jr. (D-District 8), Andy Meisner (D-District 27), Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-District 22), Gabe Leland (D-District 10), Steve Bieda (D-District 25) and Leon Drolet (R-District 33).
If your representative is not listed as a co-sponsor of this bill, please contact him or her and ask for their support. You can find your legislator at www.michigan.gov.