Israel Demands That Lesbians Seeking to Adopt Children Declare They Are Not Sex Offenders

A lack of legislation makes it difficult for lesbian couples seeking to recognize maternal legal status for their shared children, and are often left at the whim of the courts.

Photo: Ilan Aysag

Nadia Eisner Horesh, a mother of five from Jerusalem, discovered after the birth of her sixth child that she is liable to be a dangerous person. When she and her female partner Lena Horesh turned to the Family Court in Jerusalem asking to arrange her legal status as the mother of their mutual daughter, to whom Lena gave birth, the state requested an affidavit from her to the effect that she hasn’t been convicted in the past for crimes of sex or violence. “If there’s a chance that I’m a danger to children, where were the authorities when it came to my five biological children, the oldest of whom is already 21?” asks Nadia.

Nadia, who has no criminal record, swallowed the insult and filled in the humiliating request. Although she provided all the papers required of her, the court was not convinced, and accepted the state’s recommendation to request an expert opinion – which requires sending a social worker to their home to examine their daughter’s environment.

“The assumption that I have no idea what it means to be responsible for children, when for eight years since my divorce I’ve been raising five children in joint custody with their father, is nothing less than bizarre,” says Nadia.

A family headed by two women has become the most common kind of family in the LGBT community, due to the accessibility of sperm banks for women’s use, as compared to a surrogacy process that gay men in Israel are not allowed to use. Although there are an estimated thousands of such households (no official statistics exist), the state has not regulated the issue in legislation – thus leading to difficulties for couples wishing to have their maternal status legally recognized.

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