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LGBT Adoption Laws 101

It has been two years since it became legal in all states for LGBT couples of the same sex to adopt children. The LGBT community fought long and hard for this right through lobbying and legislation. Now LGBT couples and singles are able to complete their families by adopting children. Although it is now a nationwide law, there are still some laws that differ state to state when it comes to who can actually adopt. Let’s look further into some of those laws.

Joint Adoption

If LGBT couples are looking to adopt a child together, then there are some state that require for the relationship to be recognized legally. This could be either through a marriage, civil union, or a domestic partnership. Needless to say, each state’s laws are slightly different, so the specific steps that need to be taken beforehand will vary from state to state. It is important to do the research on these laws for whatever state you are in.

Second-Parent Adoption

The legal procedure that allows one partner from a same-sex couple to adopt his or her partner’s adoptive or biological child even when the relationship is not legally recognized is called a second parent adoption. A legally recognized relationship is one that is classified as either a domestic partnership, civil union, or marriage. Many states do not allow for a second-parent adoption. This means that when a same-sex couple goes in to adopt a child, only one of them can legally become the adoptive parent if they are not married, in a domestic partnership, or in a civil union.

There are many states that are now trying to appeal the law that prevents second-parent adoption. This will allow for a child to have two legal parents instead of just the one. This would then go to eliminate some problems that a non-legal parent may have to go through in their day to day life. For example a non-legal parent cannot make any medical decisions regarding their child’s health. This is obviously not ideal because if something were to happen to the child that required some simple difficult medical decisions to be made and the legal parent cannot be reached, the non-legal parent still may not have a say in the matter. Another example is if there are some simple field trip forms that need to be signed, then that is something only the legal parent can do.

Doing your research into if your current state allows for second-parent adoption is beneficial for you and your partner, so you will be better prepared if you do end up having to choose only one of you to become the legal adoptive parent.

State Laws Pertaining to Unmarried LGBT Couples and Individuals

  • Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Wisconsin have laws that prohibit second-parent adoption by couples who are not married.
  • Utah prohibits all couples who are cohabitating, not married, and have a sexual relationship from adopting a child. Utah also prefers to give couples who adopting first before individuals, so this may provide for a difficult time for an LGBT individual who is looking to adopt.

These are just a couple examples of the specific state laws that apply to individuals and couples in the LGBT community when it comes to adoption. If you are hoping to adopt, be sure to look up your state’s adoption laws and speak with experts who can help guide you through the adoption process.

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