First gay parent to legally adopt in Virginia reflects on historic year

Posted at 4:18 PM, Dec 31, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-31 18:16:55-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Shirley Lesser says an "absence of problems” summarizes the year after she became the first gay parent in Virginia to legally adopted a child.

“There just haven’t been questions about the fact that we’re his parents,” Lesser said.

Lesser married her now-wife India Lipton on October 6, 2014 on the day same-sex marriage was legalized in Virginia.

She then adopted her son, Dylan Lipton-Lesser, at the end of December that same year.


Shirley Lesser, Dylan Lipton-Lesser and India Lipton

India gave birth to Dylan on Valentine’s Day in 2012, but the pair was not allowed to be legally married at that time.

Three-year-old Dylan successfully underwent five brain surgeries for a condition commonly called water on the brain since Shirley became one of his legal parents.

“A step parent adoption is what it’s called in Virginia,” Lesser said.

Dylan’s moms said prior to the adoption, Shirley would face questions about her right to make decisions about his care to the point where they said it would delay emergency care.

“This made a huge difference for us with just having a little less risk walking in the door that people are going to delay the care we need for him,” Lipton said.

The pair said the questions have stopped since the adoption, and life feels incredibly “normal” now.

Both Shirley and India said 20 years ago they could not have imagined where there are now, but that they are incredibly thankful for their life as they head into 2016 with their son.

Dylan Lipton-Lesser

Dylan Lipton-Lesser

“When you’ve lived your entire life being questioned, to not have to have questions is an amazing thing,” Lesser said.

Dylan’s moms said it is very possible their son will have to have more brain surgeries.

There is an apparatus in his brain to drain the excess fluid, but they said it frequently fails leading to emergency surgeries.

Dylan has already undergone 22 surgeries since he was born. Click here to follow his journey on Facebook.

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