March 12th, 2013
10:52 AM ET

Michigan mom's gay adoption heartbreak

By Tommy Andres, CNN

Editor's Note: On March 26th and 27th, the US Supreme Court will hear two key cases regarding same-sex marriage. Every Monday and Tuesday in March, CNN Radio will feature stories about issues related to same-sex marriage.  

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Lansing, Michigan (CNN) - Marie Wolfe says she and her partner of four years, Becky, were as in love as any straight couple when they decided to start a family. Gay marriage is illegal in Michigan, but the couple exchanged rings and used a sperm donor so that Becky could get pregnant. Marie had always wanted kids, even before Becky, but couldn't have them herself.

The couple became the proud parents of twins, a boy and a girl, and three months after they were born Becky (whose name has been changed to protect her identity) and Marie went before a Michigan judge. Becky absolved her parental rights and with the help of an adoption agency and the judge the two adopted the children together.

Marie says they were given a state-issued adoption certificate and a new birth certificate with both of their names on them.

[3:07] “When I had the adoption certificate in my hand and I realized it was official, it was legal, nothing was ever going to come between the children and I, I just felt like, I’m going to have the privilege of raising these two children for the rest of my life.”

But as in many relationships, the bind between Becky and Marie began to strain. When the children were just over a year old, the couple broke up. Becky took the children and left, and Marie called her lawyers to try and win partial custody.

But another Michigan judge named Richard Garcia was assigned the case, and he ruled that the adoption was invalid:

[5:25] “What this really was is what we call a fiction under the law. There was an attempt to create law where none exists. In Michigan, marriage is defined as marriage between a man and a woman. Some activist judges, quite frankly, decide they don’t like the law the way it is so they come up with a ruse to get around that situation.”

Last summer, a different lesbian couple sued the state of Michigan for the right to adopt the three children they are raising together. Michigan passed a constitutional amendment in 2004 banning gay marriage. Only individuals and married couples are allowed to adopt, so the lawsuit encompassed the ban on marriage as well.

Last week the judge presiding over the Michigan case decided to suspend his ruling until the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. Arguments in that case will be heard later this month. A decision is expected this summer.

Marie Wolfe is paying extra attention to the Michigan ruling. This is her story.

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