Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Queer Adoption
Activism Leading to the Eradication of Anti-Adoption Laws
Many queer couples have been denied the right to be foster parents and even
adopt children. The American Bar Association (ABA) has been fighting for
equality for queer couples. In 1995 the ABA worked to create a policy that
would end discrimination against queer couples including the issue of custody
and visitation rights.
February 8, 1999 marked the day when the ABA adopted a Resolution that was supported by the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, the Section of Family Law, the Steering Committee on the Unmet Legal Needs of Children, and The National Gay and Lesbian Law Association.
The ABA supports the enactment of laws and implementation of public policy that provide that sexual orientation shall not be a barrier to adoption when adoption is determined to be in the best interest of the child/children.
November 19, 1997 marked the day when President Clinton enacted the Adoption and Safe Families Act. The act would promote the adoption of foster children. States are now reviewing their adoption laws. The only problem with the revisitation of the laws is that conservative organizations influence the legislation. Those laws that would hinder queer adoption are, at the time that this article was being written, are pending in Texas, Utah, Indiana, and Arkansas.
States that discriminate against queers adopting include: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.
Ways of Adopting Children
Children of queer couples, in states that allow both queer parents to adopt the
child/children is allowed, but in the states that do not allow adoption of a
child/children by both queer parents they use alternative means to obtain
guardianship Through wills, guardianship
agreements, authorization to consent to emergency medical treatment, as well as
others are the ways that custody is worked out. These ways are inferior to
The negatives for the child/children are that the partner of the biological parent has no financial responsibility, can't claim inheritance, can't claim benefits from the state/government when the partner of the biological parent dies or becomes incapacitated. Also they cannot receive health care benefits. In addition the partner is not able to tend to the sick child/children under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Even further, the partner may not at times be allowed to visit a sick child/children in a hospital. The right of a legally defined parent child/children relationship is usually denied to children of queers especially when the couple separates. If the biological parent dies, the child/children are processed by the state or live with a family member other than the partner of the deceased. Family members are known to challenge rulings where the partner is given guardianship of the child/children.
Types of Adoptions
A single person adopts a child that has been put up for adoption. This can take place through a state or a public adoption agency, and adopting with an consented party like a relative. These cases have to go through the courts. Two states do not allow queers to adopt: Florida and New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, the law includes queers not being allowed to be foster parents. Florida's law only pertains to adoption and single queer parents are allowed to be foster parents but not adoptive parents
Second Parent Adoptions
A partner (Hetero or queer) of the biological parent adopts the child/children. Both parents have legal guardianship of the child/children. The National Center of Lesbian Rights established this concept. In most states, it states that if an adoption takes place the biological parent must give up their parental rights unless the person who is adopting is a legal partner of the biological parent. But since queer couples cannot marry it is up to the courts to decide whether second parent adoptions are legal.
The supreme court in these states allow second parent adoption: Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York. Individual courts in these states allow second parent adoption: Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, and New Jersey. States that allow second parent adoptions in lower courts: Alaska, California, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, and Pennsylvania, which is still being debated
The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws endorsed second parent adoptions in the Uniform Adoption Act.
In California, Governor Pete Wilson tried to block second parent adoptions in 1996 by having public adoption agencies oppose the adoption to two people who are not legally married.
Gay male couples take advantage of joint adoptions if they don not have to be biologically related.. Until recently joint adoptions have been restricted to married couples.
On December 21, 1997 New Jersey made a law that queer as well as unmarried heterosexual couples could jointly adopt. The term for this law is that the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services must apply the same standards to all prospective adoptive parents, without regard to marital status or sexual orientation.