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Gay Parenting 101: Tools to Protect Gay and Lesbian Families - Part 1, Second Parent Adoption - Mo's Journal — LiveJournal
August 9th, 2006
01:43 pm

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

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From:candrawest
Date:August 16th, 2006 02:32 pm (UTC)
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Rather late with the reply.

Step-parent adoption differs considerably from the more common forms of adoption (which are often called “stranger adoption”). There is no home study to determine fitness of the parents. There is no “surrender” of the child, since the child is not moving from one family to another. The adoption is done solely because the parties are married, the legal parent requests it and the new spouse wishes to be a parent. It’s a relatively easy, relatively cheap, minimally intrusive procedure in all 50 states.

Interesting that, I had kind of assumed that there was some degree of home-study involved in step-parent adoptions because 38 years ago my parents had to deal with home study when my father adopted my sister. Of course, many things have changed since then, but because that was the single case I heard things about, I had assumed it applied across the board. Though in my parent's case, it could easily have been a requirement by the Navy to extend dependant benefits to my mother and my sister rather than a requirement for my sister to be considered his daughter in civilian matters. Interestingly, my mother's impression was that the home-study was less concerned with validating the parental relationship between my father and my sister and the co-parenting of my parents than with ensuring that my father was the only man around taking (or being asked to take) paternal responsibility for my sister. Which of course suggests it was Naval paranoia, rather than legal rules.

Here in Canberra, we have an odd situation. Same-sex couples *can* be recognised as de facto (with most of the benefits of marriage), but they have to specifically declare the relationship, whereas heterosexual couples are considered de facto just by co-habitating for (I think) three months. But though the relationship itself has very little automatic protection, the children of the relationship are far more protected here than most other places. Birth certificates here now include mother and partner (or possibly parent), giving lesbian couples equal footing to unmarried heterosexual couples (married couples have less paperwork involved in registering their child's birth). I believe that a mother's name is required, meaning that homosexual male couples can only obtain equal parental rights through adoption. Canberra, unlike most of Australia, permits homosexual couple adoption, giving both parents equal rights and responsibilities over the child from the beginning. Further, those same law reforms permitted homosexual partners to claim workmen's compensation and wrongful death payments for the death or injury of their spouses. I don't know how fairly the laws are enforced, but I know that the laws themselves have been written with the aim of treating homosexual partnerships equally with their heterosexual couterparts. There is still a long way to go here, as there still numerous rights of marriage denied to long-term homosexual couples, but if I had to choose a place to raise children with a same sex partner, Canberra would win hands down over anywhere else in Australia.
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From:mofic
Date:August 16th, 2006 06:06 pm (UTC)
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Interestingly, my mother's impression was that the home-study was less concerned with validating the parental relationship between my father and my sister and the co-parenting of my parents than with ensuring that my father was the only man around taking (or being asked to take) paternal responsibility for my sister. Which of course suggests it was Naval paranoia, rather than legal rules.

Was your sister's biological father alive? It's definitely required pretty much everywhere that the couple prove that there is only one legal parent in order to do a step-parent adoption. And, of course, procedures vary from state to state, so maybe some do require a home study, just not the ones I know about.

Thanks for the info about Canberra.
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