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Marriage ban causes adoption issues for same-sex couple

Many couples choose to adopt a child. In Florida, opposite-sex couples are able to jointly adopt, which gives both parents parental rights. Since same-sex marriages are not recognized in the state, however, gay and lesbian couples are not allowed this option for adoption. Instead, one of the partners must first solely adopt the child and then the other partner is able to use a second parent adoption to gain custody. While this provides a path for same-sex couples to adopt a child together in Florida, in other states that do not recognize gay marriage, the process could be even further complicated or, in some cases, impossible.

At least one Michigan couple’s adoption plans where put on hold recently when a federal appeals court stayed a decision that would have allowed same-sex marriages in the state. The two women are raising three children together, but because of the adoption laws in the state, only one of the women was able to adopt the kids. Since she is not a legal adoptive parent, the other woman has no parental rights for the children, which can make something as simple as taking one of them to the doctor a problem.

If the decision is upheld that the state’s marriage ban in unconstitutional, then the women could be legally married. Although they had a personal ceremony in 2001, having the legal paperwork for their marriage would enable them to pursue a second parent adoption, which unmarried people in Michigan are not eligible for, so that both would legally be the children’s parents.

Regardless of whether the prospective parents are a same-sex or opposite-sex couple, there are a number of details and legalities involved with the adoption process. It may be of benefit for anyone who is considering adopting to consult with an attorney.

Source: MLive.com, “Gay woman wants same-sex marriage to adopt partner’s children: ‘I am their real mom’,” Matt Vande Bunte, March 26, 2014

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