August 9th, 2006

Haring Family

Gay Parenting 101: Tools to Protect Gay and Lesbian Families - Part 1, Second Parent Adoption

The previous entry detailed some of the problems that can occur when same-sex parents have unequal rights, as most such couples do in the U.S. The next few will talk about some of the legal tools available to grant rights to the non-biological mother, in the case of lesbian couples using donor insemination, or the second adoptive parent, in the case of gay male or lesbian couples adopting.

The oldest and most widely used tool is something called Second Parent Adoption. I'll explain what it is, how it works, where it's available and what's wrong with it.

Second Parent Adoption was invented by attorneys at the National Center for Lesbian Rights based in San Francisco. The first second parent adoption was granted in 1987 in California, and there have been second parent adoptions granted in close to half the states in the US (although it is a legal tool available state-wide only in a handful). Collapse )

So, am I saying not to do second parent adoption? Not at all. In fact, I think those who can ought to do it even when other tools are available. For all its faults, it’s generally the best tool we’ve got. I think a special place in hell should be reserved for people like Sharon Silverstein who fuck with what little protection we have just to achieve their own selfish aims. By all means, go ahead and do second parent adoption if it’s available to you. But let’s realistically acknowledge its limitations and not present it as the answer to the problem of lack of legal recognition for same sex parents. It’s an answer for a few families and in general it’s the best or only answer for those who can do it. But it’s not an answer to the social and legal inequity as a whole.

Next Up: More Tools To Protect Gay and Lesbian Families: Civil Union, Domestic Partnership, and Marriage