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Legal status of adoption in the United States

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Second-parent adoption is a process by which a same-sex partner can adopt her or his partner's biological or adoptive child without terminating the first legal parent's rights.

Second-parent adoption was started by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (formerly the Lesbian Rights Project) in the mid-1980s.[1] California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine,[2] Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington State and Washington, D.C. explicitly allow second-parent adoption by same-sex couples statewide, either by statute or court ruling.[3]

As of May 2007, Colorado allows second-parent adoption by same-sex couples.[4] Courts in many other states have also granted second-parent adoptions to same-sex couples, though there is no statewide law or court decision that guarantees this. In fact, courts within the same state but in different jurisdictions often contradict each other in practice.

Single parent adoption by lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals is legal in every state except Florida, which prohibits anyone who is "homosexual" from adopting.[5]

Additionally, Utah prohibits adoption by "a person who is cohabiting in a relationship that is not a legally valid and binding marriage,"[6] making it legal for single people to adopt, regardless of sexual orientation, so long as they are not co-habitating in non-marital relationships. Critics of such restrictive policies also point out that in many of the states that have bans on second-parent adoption by same-sex couples, these same couples are still able to act as foster parents.

US States’ laws on adoption by same-sex couples[7]
State LGBT individual may petition to adopt Same-sex couple may jointly petition Same-sex partner may petition to adopt partner’s child
Alabama Yes No explicit prohibition In some jurisdictions
Alaska Yes No explicit prohibition In some jurisdictions
Arizona Yes No explicit prohibition Unclear
Arkansas Unclear No explicit prohibition Unclear
California Yes Yes Yes
Colorado Yes Yes Yes
Connecticut Yes Yes Yes
Delaware Yes No explicit prohibition In some jurisdictions
District of Columbia Yes Yes Yes
Florida No[8] No[8] Probably not[8]
Georgia Yes No explicit prohibition Unclear
Idaho Yes Unclear Unclear
Illinois Yes Yes Yes
Indiana Yes Yes In some jurisdictions
Iowa Yes No explicit prohibition In some jurisdictions
Kansas Yes No explicit prohibition Unclear
Kentucky Yes No explicit prohibition Unclear
Louisiana Yes No explicit prohibition In some jurisdictions
Maine Yes No explicit prohibition Unclear
Maryland Yes No explicit prohibition In some jurisdictions
Massachusetts Yes[9] Yes[9] Yes[9]
Michigan Yes No No explicit prohibition
Minnesota Yes No explicit prohibition In some jurisdictions
Mississippi Yes No[10] Unclear[10]
Missouri Unclear Unclear Unclear
Montana Yes No explicit prohibition Unclear
Nebraska Unclear No explicit prohibition No
Nevada Yes No explicit prohibition In some jurisdictions
New Hampshire Yes In some jurisdictions[11] In some jurisdictions
New Jersey Yes Yes Yes
New Mexico Yes Unclear[12] In some jurisdictions
New York Yes Yes Yes
North Carolina Yes Unclear Unclear
North Dakota Unclear[13] No explicit prohibition[13] Unclear
Ohio Unclear Unclear In some jurisdictions
Oklahoma Yes[14] No explicit prohibition[14] Unclear
Oregon Yes Yes In some jurisdictions
Pennsylvania Yes Unclear Yes
Rhode Island Yes No explicit prohibition In some jurisdictions
South Carolina Yes Unclear Unclear
South Dakota Yes Unclear Unclear
Tennessee Yes No explicit prohibition Unclear
Texas Yes No explicit prohibition In some jurisdictions
Utah Yes No[15] Unclear
Vermont Yes Yes Yes
Virginia Yes No explicit prohibition Unclear
Washington Yes No explicit prohibition In some jurisdictions
West Virginia Yes No explicit prohibition Unclear
Wisconsin Yes No explicit prohibition No
Wyoming Yes Unclear Unclear

As adoptions are mostly handled by local courts in the United States, some judges and clerks accept or deny petitions to adopt on criteria that vary from other judges and clerks in the same state.[7]

ReferencesEdit

  1. http://www.nclrights.org/publications/adptn0204.htm
  2. gaycitynews: Maine Supreme Court:Gay couples can adopt
  3. HRC | Page Not Found
  4. Gay adoption is law : Colorado Government : The Rocky Mountain News
  5. http://www.lambdalegal.org/cgi-bin/iowa/documents/record2.html?record=1923
  6. Utah Code Section 78-30-1
  7. 7.0 7.1 Human Rights Campaign, State Adoption Laws, accessed 2007-09-27
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Florida law specifically says "homosexuals" cannot adopt. FLA. STAT. ch. 63.042(3). Upheld in Lofton v. Sect. of the Dept. of Children and Family Services, 358 F.3d 804 (11th Cir. 2004).
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 State regulatory code allows delaying or denying an adoption based on sexual orientation. With same-sex marriage now legal, how this would apply to married same-sex couples is uncertain.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Mississippi allows unmarried adults and married couples to petition, amended in 2000 to prohibit "couples of the same gender" from adopting.
  11. A 1987 New Hampshire Supreme Court ruling found that two unmarried adults may not jointly petition to adopt. There are, however, some judges who have permited same-sex couples to petition upon showing that they will provide a stable and loving home.
  12. Based on the use of gender neutral and "partner" language on their application for adoption, New Mexico may allow same-sex couples to jointly petition.
  13. 13.0 13.1 A 2003 law states: "A child-placing agency is not required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, facilitate, refer or participate in a placement that violates the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies." This is expected to allow some agencies to deny placement with LGBT couples and individuals. N.D. CENT. CODE §50-12-03.
  14. 14.0 14.1 HRC | Oklahoma Adoption Law
  15. Unmarried, cohabitating couples may not petition to adopt.

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