A lesbian mother says she’s “heartbroken” after Pennsylvania Superior Court last week said she isn’t entitled to partial custody of her former life partner’s biological child.
The woman, identified as “C.G.” in court papers, lived with “J.H.” for about a decade in Florida. Prior to her life partnership with J.H., C.G. had two children from a previous relationship.
In 2006, J.H. gave birth to a son, identified in court papers as J.W.H. In 2012, J.H. left the household and moved to Pennsylvania with J.W.H., according to court records.
C.G. had sought partial custody of J.W.H., who recently turned 11.
Last year, Centre County Common Pleas Judge Pamela A. Ruest said C.G. didn’t have legal standing to pursue partial custody of J.W.H.
On Oct. 11, Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed Ruest’s ruling.
In a 31-page opinion, the court said: “C.G. did not participate in educational or medical decisions regarding the child, was not intended to be the child’s guardian if something happened to J.H., and acted more like a babysitter than a parent. Further, there were no formal documents indicating a co-parenting arrangement, the child did not bear C.G.’s surname and C.G. did not visit the child frequently and regularly after the parties separated.”
C.G., 57, lives in Boca Raton, Fla., and disagrees with the court’s ruling. “It is so unjust,” she told PGN.
She said she helped select a sperm donor, was present when J.W.H. was conceived, cut the umbilical cord when he was born, named him as a beneficiary on her life-insurance policy and co-parented him for six years.
Additionally, J.W.H. was listed as C.G.’s son on her workplace health-insurance policy. “He called me ‘Mama Cindy,’” she said.
Her two daughters consider J.W.H. to be their brother, and J.W.H. referred to C.G.’s father as “Grandpa Joe” and her mother as “Grandma Ann,” she added.
“We were a family,” C.G. continued. “He is my son.”
C.G. was last allowed to visit with J.W.H. in 2014, but she has sent him monthly packages and gifts and spoken with him on the phone minimally since the visit, she said.
“J.W.H. does not have his own phone,” she said. “I really don’t know if he actually gets [the packages] but I keep sending them. It’s my way of keeping connected to him.”
J.W.H. was born in October 2006. “I am just shopping for his birthday gift when you called,” C.G. told a PGN reporter.
“I miss him so much. Our connection is deep, we had a wonderful bond,” C.G. concluded. “It’s been too long since I’ve seen him. I think about him all the time, I dream about him. It is heartbreaking. And I’ll keep loving him and hoping to see him. Even if it takes until he’s 18, I promise I’ll see him.”
An attorney for J.H. had no comment for this story.