This has been a long overdue post because the Lesbian Parenting forum I attended was last April 18. Even though it’s already been a month, it still deserves a spot here in my blog because I believe that it is one of the issues some lesbians here in the Philippines face.
What makes a family? It is not just a biological concept anymore, in fact it has evolved into a social construct. We sometimes consider long time colleagues at work as our family. The rigidity of the family as a biological concept sometimes become the root of bigotry and homophobia. The common notion is that our biological family can do no harm on us; thus the saying goes “blood is thicker than water”. BUT, this is not always the case as there are biological family members of ours that abuse us and show insincerity in their actions towards us. All we need to do is to widen our minds in the concept of the family.
Lesbian Families in the Philippines. We may deny it or not but there are already lesbian families here in the Philippines. Whether they were planned (like undergoing artificial methods of pregnancy) or the woman had a child before engaging in a lesbian relationship. Whatever the grassroots were, it is already in our status quo. There are many issues that lesbian families in the Philippines face because primarily, we do not have a law that legitimizes lesbian partners taking custody of children in case something happens to the partner. Under the Philippine Family Code, a child that is born out of wedlock is considered illegitimate. Thus a lesbian couple’s child is illegitimate and has to be with the biological mother’s custody. We do not have same sex unions in the Philippines and so the problem arises when lesbian couples decide to have their own children. A lot of couples, who have the capacity to spend money, go to countries were same sex union and adoption is legal. But how about the lesbian couples who aren’t well off? They have to face whatever existing Philippine laws and work around it. It’s a good thing that we have lesbian lawyers that can give us suggestions on how we can make the existing laws beneficial for lesbian couples who currently have children and are still planning to have one.
Let me summarize the things that I learned from the lesbian parenting forum and these are 3 ways to legalize the documents for lesbian parents and their children:
This is what usually lesbian couples opt to choose. It may look like an easy way out BUT if this is chosen, the biological mother will be removed of her rights as the mother. Adoption can be used for heterosexual couples. This can only work if we have same-sex unions here in the Philippines but unfortunately, we don’t have it yet.
2) Living Wills
According to the lesbian lawyers, this has been becoming a trend in the United States wherein LGBT parents have living wills. According to Wiki, Living Wills are
instructions given by individuals specifying what actions should be taken for their health in the event that they are no longer able to make decisions due to illness or incapacity. A living will is one form of advance directive, leaving instructions for treatment. Another form authorizes a specific type of power of attorney or health care proxy, where someone is appointed by the individual to make decisions on their behalf when they are incapacitated. People may also have a combination of both. It is often encouraged that people complete both documents to provide the most comprehensive guidance regarding their care.
In relation to this, you can make your own “living will” while you are still young and state in that document that you are giving your partner a right to decide when you are incapacitated or die. You can give your partner the right to have have custody of the child. Well, this hasn’t been done yet in the Philippines according to the lesbian lawyers. Under the Philippine law, it is always the welfare of the child that is being taken into consideration. Just make sure that your partner is capable of taking care of the children so that there wouldn’t be any issues with your immediate family.
3) Special Power of Attorney (SPOA)
According to Wiki:
A power of attorney (POA) or letter of attorney in common law systems or mandate in civil law systems is an authorization to act on someone else’s behalf in a legal or business matter. The person authorizing the other to act is the principal, granter or donor (of the power), and the one authorized to act is the agent, the attorney-in-fact, or in many Common Law jurisdictions, simply the attorney.
In the Philippines, this kind of document is not very much welcomed in terms of lesbian co-parenting. Probably in the context of business matters, this document can be utilized.
In summary, there is still no absolute way for lesbian co-parenting here in the Philippines. Like I said earlier, these suggestions are just some of the things that you can probably do when you decide to legalize things. As of this moment, the probability that these suggestions will work is not that high yet. If you have a lesbian family and has done legal actions, whether successful or not, please share your experiences here or contact LGBT organizations so that other lesbians will be enlightened on this matter. We need to help each other for the common good.