By Pamela Constable | October 12, 2014
Mark Loewen and Leo Mick, a Richmond couple, met at college in Virginia and spent eight years building a life there together. But because Loewen was an immigrant without full legal rights, and the two men could not marry without starting over and moving to another state, they faced constant financial, legal and emotional strains.
Loewen, 34, a native of Paraguay, was stuck in a series of unsatisfying jobs that depended on temporary work visas. He could not be covered by Mick’s health insurance or co-sign on their mortgage. Later, when they decided to adopt a baby girl together, they discovered that Loewen — by then waiting for his green card but not yet a permanent legal resident — could not be registered as an adopter.
“We were so excited at first,” said Loewen, a mental health counselor. “We went through all the home visits and had a very supportive agency. But when it came to the legal part, we were told I could not be recognized as a parent. Leo had to adopt her as a single father, and I was listed as just another adult in the household. It hurt a lot more than my pride.”