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Churchill couple may now adopt 3rd child together

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

By Steve Levin, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Claudia Neely greeted yesterday's news that the state Supreme Court had recognized the right of gay partners to adopt each other's children by crying for 30 minutes.

Then she and her partner of 14 years, Kate Patterson-Neely, immediately e-mailed their attorney to figure out the best way to expedite their planned adoption of a third child, 20-month-old Icile.

"It's so hard to explain to people what it means not to be related to your children," said Neely, 41, of Churchill's Blackridge section. "The United States and the state of Pennsylvania were saying I wasn't legally entitled to adopt my child. That's like saying I'm not a citizen."

"We had no idea [the Supreme Court decision] was coming down. I can't believe it still."

Both the couple's daughter, Bethan, 8, and son, Webster, 4, are Patterson-Neely's biological children. Neely co-adopted both of them under state adoption law that until two years ago permitted gay and lesbian couples to adopt.

Patterson-Neely is a family physician at Forbes Regional Hospital; Neely home schools their daughter.

With Icile, Patterson-Neely already had filed for single-parent adoption since the baby's birth mother plans to relinquish parental rights.

Now, the couple must decide whether to proceed or refile for co-adoption.

Last night, though, they were celebrating with pizza.

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