SYO 4102-American Families
Term Paper Assignment
State Level Policies Regarding Laws on Adoption by LGBT
Adoption is the social, emotional, and legal process in which children who will not be raised by their birth parents become permanent legal members of another family. Adoption is one of the primary ways that LGBT parents create families; whether through the public foster care system, a private agency, or simply a second-parent adoption of a partner or spouse’s child. However, in most places across the country LGBT individuals and couples face barriers to adoption, making it difficult or sometimes impossible for these loving, qualified people to create families. Lesbian and gay parents are raising over 65,000 adopted children and youth in the U.S. This accounts for more than 4 percent of all adopted children. (Lifelong Adoptions website, 2013)There are so many LGBT people interested in adopting, but, unfortunately, are prohibited from doing so due to discriminatory laws, policies and practices. In fact, the majority of states across the country do not permit LGBT people to jointly petition to adopt children. Federal legislation sets the framework for adoption in the United States, and States pass laws to comply with Federal requirements and become eligible for Federal funding. Therefore, State laws regulate adoption, and these laws vary from State to State. Currently, all 50 States and the District of Columbia allow for single parent adoptions. A joint adoption involves a couple adopting a child from the child’s biological parent(s) or adopting a child who is in the custody of the state. In many states it is unclear whether a same-sex couple would be permitted to file a joint petition to adopt. States where same-sex couples can jointly petition to adopt statewide include: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. (HRC.org website, 2013) In some states, a person can petition to adopt the child of his or her partner. These are usually called second-parent or step-parent adoptions. A second-parent adoption allows a second parent to adopt a child without the "first parent" losing any parental rights. In this way, the child comes to have two legal parents. It also typically grants adoptive parents the same rights as biological parents in custody and visitation matters. The following States allow second-parent adoption statewide (21 states and D.C.): Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Five states explicitly prohibit same-sex couples from jointly adopting (Utah, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Michigan). Six states affirmatively restrict same-sex couples from accessing second-parent adoption (Utah, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina). Two states restrict fostering by LGBT parents (Utah, Nebraska). Virginia allows private agencies receiving state funds to refuse to serve families or children for any religious objection. (HRC.org website, 2013) As stated earlier, with few exceptions, family law is administered at the state level. Currently, there is no federal standard that either provides LGBT people or same-sex couples with the ability to adopt, or prohibits states from discriminating against LGBT people and same-sex couples in foster care and adoptive placements. The lack of federal nondiscrimination protections combined with the patchwork of state laws creates a very uncertain landscape for prospective parents who happen to be LGBT. The determination of parenting rights is always made on a case-by-case basis and it is ultimately the decision of the judge...
References: Green, R.J. (2010) From Outlaws to In-Laws: Gay and Lesbian Couples in Contemporary Society; Families As They Really Are – Risman reader pp 197-213
Meezan, W., Rauch, J. (2005) Gay Marriage, Same-Sex Parenting, and America 's Children; Public and Private Families A Reader – Cherlin, A. pp 311-319
Brodzinsky, D., Pertman, A. (2012) Adoption by Lesbians and Gay Men: A New Dimension in Family Diversity; Oxford University Press, Inc.
Lifelong Adoptions (2013) LGBT Adoption Facts. Retrieved November 23, 2013 from http://www.lifelongadoptions.com/lgbt-adoption/lgbt-adoption-facts
Goldberg, A.E., Moyer, A.M., Weber, E.R., Sapiro, J. (2013) What changed when the gay adoption ban was lifted?: Perspectives of Lesbian and Gay Parents in Florida; Journal of Sexuality Research and Social Policy, Vol 10, Issue 2, June 2013, pp 110-124
Human Rights Campaign (2013) LGBT Adoption Issues. Retrieved November 22, 2013 from http://www.hrc.org/issues/adoption
Brodzinsky, D.M., Patterson C.J., Vaziri, M (2002) Adoption Agency Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Prospecive Parents: A National Study, Adoption Quarterly, Vol. 5(3) 2002
Child Welfare Information Gateway (2013) Ethical Issues in Adoption. Retrieved November 23, 2013 from https://www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/adopt_ethics/
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