Where Gay Couples Can Adopt, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 27 2011 @ 7:03pm

A reader writes:

That map is way off, at least on the two states I know about. My home state, Colorado, which the map marks "uncertain," explicitly allows same-sex adoption based on a law adopted in 2007. Nebraska, where a friend lives, is also marked as such, but he has been told specifically he can not adopt or be a foster parent because he is gay.

Another backs him up:

As a lawyer in Colorado, I have represented a same-sex couple (not even legally married) in the adoption of two children.

Colorado law allows for a "second parent adoption" with the consent of the "sole legal parent." Although it is not explicitly for gay couples (theoretically anyone could become the second parent) it is my understanding that it was enacted for that purpose. The way it works is that one of the partners adopts the child and then, after becoming the "sole legal parent" consents to the adoption by the "second parent." The judges in this district have allowed me to do the whole process at one time, i.e., going through the hearing on the first adoption and directly following it with the hearing on the second parent adoption. That way there is no delay and there is no need to go to court twice. It has worked out well for my clients who are extremely happy that each of them has specific parental rights as to their children.

A reader in Michigan writes:

We live in one of the states where same-sex couples are restricted from petitioning for joint adoption. A number of years ago my friend and her partner decided, after many years of unsuccessful artificial insemination attempts, to pursue adoption. This couple had been in a 10-year relationship, both were well-paid professionals and well situated to expand their family. They went through all of the steps for an adoption and finally brought a newborn infant home. Because of the laws in our state, my friend had to adopt the baby as a "single" person.

Two months later my friend’s partner decided that she did not want to be a parent and left the home and the relationship. She did not have an interest in maintaining a relationship with the child.

It is true that long-term straight and gay relationships unfortunately end, and there are people who discover too late that they are not meant to be parents. But the difference this case illuminates is because same-sex marriage is not legal in our state and because joint adoptions by same-sex partners are not allowed in this state, my friend has had no recourse to request support from her former partner. They made the decision to adopt a baby as a family. However, the law has not supported that decision and my friend has had to figure out how to financially, emotionally, and physically be a single parent.

I believe that same-sex marriage and gay adoption is the right answer for all sorts of equality and humane reasons. But I also think that what is all-to-often missing from the discussion is the fact that this legal standing also allows for legal recourse when things go bad (just like they do when straight couples divorce).