Lesbian mothers embroiled in unprecedented battle for custody of 2 children
By Orly Vilnai - Haaretz, 25/01/2009
For the first time in Israeli history, the court must intervene in a dispute between two lesbian mothers who are fighting over the custody of their two children.
Despite its urgency and its impact on two small children, since the case was first brought to it six months ago, the court has been dragging its feet and has not even examined the basic evidence yet.
Dorit, the biological mother of both children (conceived from anonymous donor sperm) and Yaela together raised the children, who called them both "mother." Dorit now argues that there never were two mothers, only one, and that Yaela was just another woman living in the same house with them, and therefore has no right or authority over her children.
Yaela did not adopt the children, thereby anchoring her parental rights, as recent court rulings allow her to do. However, she has in her possession a letter from a kindergarten director addressing them both as mothers, a statement signed by the nanny to the effect that they both acted as mothers and tended to the children devotedly, letters and greeting cards to both of them and home videos depicting a happy family, with the children calling her "mother."
"It’s hard to describe the helplessness I feel," says Yaela. "I feel gagged and bound and there’s nothing I can do to get my children back."
When they broke up, Dorit and Yaela agreed on joint and equal custody, but a few weeks later Dorit told Yaela that the two children needed to live in one place, and since she was the biological mother, the children would stay with her. Yaela was allowed to take them twice a week. But a short time later this arrangement also fell apart.
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