Second parent adoption is the legal term for the second adoption of a biological child or adopted child by a same sex partner. According to law, states have the right to honor or deny second parent adoption. The law was passed to allow a second parent to adopt a child without removing legal parental rights from the first parent. Not all states, in the United States, honor second parent adoptions.
As of May 2010, statutes have been passed in California, Connecticut, Colorado and Vermont to allow the legal second parent adoption by a same sex parent. Appeals have been won in District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, honoring second parent adoptions after earlier court cases were lost. Trial cases in Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington have also resulting in positive outcomes.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, appeals have been lost in Wisconsin, Ohio and Nebraska where same sex couples cannot hold dual parenting rights. Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming have taken no definitive stand on second parent adoption.
Legal Ramifications of Not Following Through With Second Parent Adoption
Second parent adoption is about more than sharing parenting responsibilities. When the second parent adoption process is finalized, children have legal rights to medical care and can be listed as beneficiaries on all insurance policies. If something were to happen to one of the legal parents, children would also qualify for SSI benefits in the United States. SSI benefits continue until a child reaches 18 years of age.
Draw Backs of Legal Parent Adoptions
While the benefits are numerous for second parent adoptions, there are also drawbacks. Once legally bound, additional legal fees would need to be paid to break the legal bind if couples break up. In heterosexual marriages, the court system often appoints someone to go over legal issues involving shared or joint custody. Civil unions do not hold the same legal rights as traditional marriage, though this is changing in some states.
Second parent adoption is one method of dual, legal parenting for gay and lesbian couples. In order for the process to take place, one parent needs to be a biological or adoptive parent before the second parent applies for legal guardianship.