Lesbian Parents, Sexual Orientation: A Fresh Analysis

According to researchers at The Williams Institute, located at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, approximately six million children and adults in the U.S. have a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender parent.

ABA resolution

The question of how having same-sex parents affects and impacts children of those couples, is being addressed in a thirty-three year long ongoing study of offspring from conception to adulthood, (1986-2019+) by the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study. (NLLFS)

Lead researcher Dr. Nanette Gartrell, M.D alongside her co-investigator researcher Dr. Henny Bos, Ph.D, found that the psychological health of adults is unrelated to the sexual identity of their parents.

The NLLFS study has had a 92% retention rate since it began in 1986. The current analysis compared 76 offspring of lesbian parents and 76 demographically matched participants from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG).

But, according to researchers Gartell and Bos, data on the sexual attractions, orientations, and experiences of adults who were born into sexual minority parent families are limited.

A fresh analysis of data extrapolated from the ongoing study by NLLFS this past month however, finds that the 25-year-old children of lesbian parents are more likely than their peers to report same-sex attraction, sexual minority identity and same-sex experiences.

“Our 2018 study, [published in the New England Journal of Medicine] revealed that adults who were conceived through donor insemination and raised by lesbian parents are as psychologically healthy as their peers,” said Gartrell.

“Our current study suggests that being raised by sexual minority parents may lead to more diverse sexual expression for their adult daughters and sons.”

Los Angeles Blade, by Troy Masters, March 25, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

Advice for and from LGBTQ parents, in their own words

“LGBTQ parents can be more open to recognizing depression, bullying, or even just holding back”

Just in time for Pride in June, “Rainbow Relatives: Real-World Stories and Advice on How to Talk to Kids About LGBTQ+ Families and Friends” (May 8, 2018) is a collection of intimate, real-life stories and advice about coming out to family members—parents to children, aunts and uncles to nieces and nephews, grandparents to grandchildren.

The concept for “Rainbow Relatives” was born when author Sudi “Rick” Karatas asked his sister if her children knew about his (their uncle’s) sexual orientation. She said they didn’t, as she hadn’t been sure how to approach the topic and wished there was a book she could read to help her have those conversations. So, Sudi wrote that book. He hopes Rainbow Relatives will make readers more accepting of all people and families, especially in the LGBTQ+ community.LGBT Parents advice

Two Moms, Two Dads, Today’s Families

On one hand, many families are already formed when a parent comes out and usually it is a surprise to the kids and many adjustments have to be made. On the other hand, many same-sex couples decide to adopt or have children through a surrogate or in vitro fertilization. Being a parent and raising a family is not easy. Is it harder if you don’t have a traditional family? Since I don’t have kids, I relied on the interviews and surveys to get a better understanding of the challenges these families face for Rainbow Relatives. I will leave most of the advice to them and let their answers speak for themselves.

LGBTQ Parents

If you could give advice to other gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender parents or same-sex couples with kids or thinking of having them, what would it be?

  • Andrew: I think that it’s the most amazing thing I’ve done . . . and the hardest. I’ve learned more about myself in this journey (both good and bad). Someone gave us the advice that if Oliver ever says, “I want a mommy,” to think about it as if he said, “I want a horse.” Our son doesn’t know what a mommy does versus his daddies . . . and it will keep us from feeling like we’re depriving him of something.
  • Thea: It’s awesome, but only do it if you are 100 percent sure. I always thought I wanted a biological child but I could not love my adopted kids more.
  • Bruce: Having kids, it’s the greatest thing ever.
  • Primrose: Adopt from foster care! So many kids in our own cities and states need parents.
  • Albert: Make sure you are both on the same page; it makes life better when you both know what the other is thinking.
  • Kathy: Join an organization such as Pop Luck Club (PLC), an organization in Los Angeles, California, made up of families with two dads and go to Maybe Baby (a fertility group). Seek out other gay parents. Visit with other families, be a camp counselor, go read to kids in schools, volunteer. If you have never been in charge of other kids, like mentioned above, then it can be tough; already knowing how kids act can really help.
  • Ted: Do it. It’s the best gift in the world.

by Sudi Rick Karatas, Salon.com, June 29, 2018

Click here to read the entire article.


Is there a Marital Presumption for Male Couples in New York?

Is there marital presumption for male couples in New York?  Recent case law suggests that we are heading in that direction.

Is there marital presumption for male couples in New York?  Up until now, there has been no clear guidance on this.  While certain NY jurisdictions have held that the marital presumption of parentage exists for lesbian couples, male couples who have their children with the assistance of a surrogate mother, or gestational carrier, have not had specific judicial input… until now.marital presumption for male couples in New York

Before I discuss the details of the case, entitled In re Maria Irene D., it is important to understand the judicial reach it has and the implications of that for couples throughout New York State.  This case originates from an appeal made from a New York County Family Court decision granting a second parent adoption.  That appeal was heard in the Appellate Division, First Department, which hears appeals from cases in New York County and the Bronx only.  Therefore, until appealed to the New York Court of Appeals (our highest court), it only creates precedent for the Bronx and New York Counties.  Other NY counties may cite the case as a reference, but are not bound by its findings.

In re Maria Irene D. involves a child born in September 2014 to a gay couple, Marco and Ming.  Marco and Ming entered into a civil union in the UK in 2008 and converted that to a marriage in 2015.  Their daughter was born with the help of a surrogate mother who gave birth in Missouri.  Because both fathers were British citizens, and due to the law in the UK surrounding the legality of surrogacy, the couple obtained a parentage order in Missouri that terminated the rights of both the surrogate mother and egg donor and awarded Marco, the genetic father, “sole and exclusive” custody of the child.  In many cases, a pre or post birth order will list both intended parents as legal parents, but because the couple planned to secure UK citizenship for the child at some point after her birth, the parentage order could only list the genetic father.

Marco and Ming, along with their daughter, moved back to Florida, where they had been living, and stayed there as a family until October of 2015.  At some point after the birth of the child, Marco began a relationship with a man named Carlos and his relationship with Ming failed.  Ming had moved back to the UK in October of 2015 to find employment.  Carlos filed a petition of adoption with the New York County Family Court in January of 2016 and the petition was granted in May of 2016.

marital presumption for male couples in New YorkAdoption petitions ask one very important question, whether the child is subject to any proceeding affecting his or her custody or status.  In this matter, Carlos and Marco failed to disclose that, at the time of the child’s birth, both Marco and Ming had signed the surrogacy agreement together as a married couple.  Also, Ming had started a divorce proceeding seeking joint custody of the child prior to the finalization of the adoption.  Carlos and Marco failed to disclose that to the court as well.

The court held that there were two important reasons for overturning the adoption granted by the New York County family Court to Carlos: that Ming and Marco were considered legally married by the court at the time the time they began their surrogacy journey and at the time of the birth of the child.  Their daughter was, essentially, born in wedlock; therefore, Ming was entitled to notice of the adoption proceedings.  The court also faulted Carlos and Marco for failing to disclose the relevant information that there was a court proceeding filed by Ming in Florida that affected the custody of the child.

So does the marital presumption for male couples in New York protect a separated parent from losing custody of their child?  In this case, yes.  What we do not know is whether the fact that Carlos and Marco’s failure to disclose vital information in their adoption petition was the driving factor in the court’s decision, or whether it was the marriage of Marco and Ming.

With this information, male couples in NY may be struggling with whether to secure their parental relationships through second or step parent adoption.  Because the players in this drama were foreign nationals, different rules applied to how parentage was established immediately following the birth of their child.  Most US couples who have children through surrogacy can obtain parentage orders that create parentage for both fathers depending on the State where their child is born.  This decision is certainly a step in the right direction but married NY couples should also consider step parent adoption as a means to create unassailable parental rights that are portable across the country and around the world.  While the second/step parent adoption process is comprehensive and time consuming, it is worth it when you think about how much may be spent defending your right to your child born through surrogacy.

Anthony M. Brown, head of Family and Estates division of Chianese & Reilly Law, PC and has extensive experience in helping same-sex couples through the adoption process, having gone through the process himself. If you have yet to create a legal relationship with your child or children, call 212-953-6447 or email Anthony at anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

Estate Planning for Dummies – The Important Steps You May Have Already Taken

Estate Planning for Dummies explains the most basic estate planning tools, many of which you may have already implemented without even knowing it.

Estate planning for dummies is a misnomer.  Because the premise of this article is that you may have sufficient estate planning in place, you are clearly not dummies.  But understanding how to make the most of your estate plan, will ensure that you and your family are protected in case the unforeseen occurs.

Do I need a Will?”  This is usually the first question asked by clients.  The short answer is yes and, to better understand why, it is important to know the protections that a Will provides.  A Last Will and Testament is the cornerstone to a comprehensive estate plan.  Whether you have children or not you do have assets.  Depending on their size, more complex planning may be required.  But the key to knowing whether you have unwittingly begun work on your estate plan, you must know what property passes under a Will.estate planning basics

Probate Asset v. Non-Probate Assets

Wills cover probate assets, or assets held solely in your name. Examples include real property, bank accounts and personal belongings. Personal belongings are key because many people do not like the idea of a distant relative rooting through their most cherished items after death. Wills do not pass non-probate assets, or assets held jointly with someone else (like a bank account or real property held as a married couple or as joint tenants), assets held in trust for someone else or any asset that has a designated beneficiary, like an insurance policy, a 401(k) or an IRA retirement plan.

The goal of a good estate plan for a married couple is to maximize you non-probate asset designations.  If done correctly, there will be no need for a probate process upon the death of the first spouse.  Probate is the process by which the state of a decedent ensures that their Last Will and Testament was drafted and executed correctly, that the assets and debts of the decedent, the person who died, are identified, that the debts are paid and the assets are distributed according the decedent’s Will. The New York probate process governs the transfer of legal title of property from the estate of the person who has died to those named in that person’s Last Will and Testament.

If you are married and your home is listed in both spouses’ names, then the house will pass automatically to the surviving spouse with no need for probate.  Likewise, if you have joint bank accounts, the assets in those accounts pass outside of probate.

right of survivorship, JTWROS, joint tenantsMany city couples rent their apartments, making their most valuable assets their investment or retirement accounts.  For these investment vehicles, you may name your spouse, or partner if you are unmarried, as a designated beneficiary.  You may also name multiple designated beneficiaries as long as the percentage allocations are clear to the administrator of the investment/retirement account.

Estate planning for dummies = the maximization of non-probate asset designations.  It is the best tool you have to avoid probate.  And while this type of specific planning may allay the need for a Will, it is always a good idea to have a Will in place, even if you do not need to put that Will through probate.  If you are unmarried, it is of particular importance that you have a Will because the protections of marriage, which include naming the surviving spouse as the default beneficiary of a decedent’s assets, will not apply to you and your partner.

For more information, visit www.timeforfamilies.com or email Anthony at anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

In win for gay couples, Maryland high court recognizes de facto parents rights

Maryland’s highest court has ruled that non-biological parents, de facto parents,  who live with and help raise children also have parental rights, overturning a 2008 decision that gay and lesbian advocates considered devastating to same-sex couples.

In a unanimous ruling issued Thursday, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that family-court judges can consider whether persons are de facto parents in custody and visitation cases. Advocates say Maryland was one of a few states that considered such parents strangers in the eyes of the law.

De facto parents can include the partner of a lesbian who undergoes artificial insemination, a gay man whose partner adopts a child from a country that does not allow same-sex couples to jointly adopt, or a straight man who raises a child with a woman for years without formal adoption.gay parents adoption

Until the 2008 court decision, such people generally had the ability to maintain some parental rights in Maryland even when their relationships with their partners crumbled.

Then the Court of Appeals ruled against a Baltimore County woman who sought custody or visitation rights with a girl who had been adopted by her ex-partner. The court said “third party” parents should not be treated differently from other third parties seeking custody. That meant they would need to show exceptional circumstances or that the legal parent was unfit in order to be awarded time with children they had helped raise.

This week’s ruling concerned a different case and reversed the precedent set by the court in 2008. Denying rights to third-party parents “is ‘clearly wrong’ and has been undermined by the passage of time,” Judge Sally Adkins wrote in the decision.

LGBT advocates hailed the ruling for correcting what they saw as a continuing injustice against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, even after voters legalized same-sex marriage in 2012.

“Now Maryland joins the majority of other states in taking those parents and children out of limbo and putting them in solid legal footing,” said Jer Welter, a lawyer with FreeState Justice who represented plaintiff Michael Conover in the case ruled on this week.

Mr. Conover is a transgender man who had married a woman before undergoing his gender transition. Their wedding took place in the District, which legalized same-sex marriage before Maryland did. Courts treated him and his ex-wife as a same-sex couple for the purpose of the dispute.

Brittany Conover gave birth in 2010 to a child, Jaxon, who was fathered by a sperm donor selected with the input of Mr. Conover, then known as Michelle, according to court records. The couple separated the next year and divorced in 2013.

Ms. Conover stopped allowing her spouse to visit in 2012. She argued in a later custody battle that her former partner never adopted Jaxon and was not listed as a parent on the child’s birth certificate.

Lower courts agreed that Mr. Conover lacked parental rights. The Court of Appeals ruling returns the case to a Washington County judge with the concept of a de facto parent restored in law.

“I am elated that the state’s highest court has ruled that people like me should have our relationships with our children legally protected,” Mr. Conover said in a statement.

R. Martin Palmer Jr., an attorney for Ms. Conover, said the court usurped the role of lawmakers in defining a parent and may have created a situation in which stepfathers can take control of children from capable mothers.

By Fenit Nirappil / The Washington Post, July 9, 2016

Click here to read the entire article.

Why seeing my gay son enter parenthood with twins made our relationship stronger

Early last month, my husband and I became grandparents for the first time, when my son and his husband became the fathers of twins.

There is a plethora of options for a gay couple to explore when they are considering parenthood. Adoption? Co-parenting? Surrogacy? Who will donate the egg and/or sperm? What are the legalities? And where do you even start such a process?

I am so very grateful — perhaps relieved is a better word — that my son and his husband live in a city with a large LGBTQ population. This has meant that from the moment they knew they wanted to become parents, they had access to a wealth of knowledge and experience. This is knowledge and experience that my husband and I, for lack of personal experience, simply couldn’t help them with.

The conversations I had with my son and son-in-law while they were taking their Daddies & Papas 2B program at a local LGBTQ community centre in downtown Toronto were some of most intimate and emotional conversations I have ever had with him. The roles in our relationship were completely reversed: the child was teaching the parent.Twins

It was a special time in my relationship with my son, and I will always cherish it.

You know who was even happier than John and me about the thought of babies? Our own parents. My father lived long enough to see my son marry the man he loved, but never knew that he would be the first of our three boys to have children. Still, the twins now have three great-grandparents who are healthy, and so very proud to talk about — and advocate for — gay marriage and same-sex parenthood.

I got to watch my mother hold a newborn girl named after her, and her great-grandson, named for my son’s grandfather-in-law. She marvelled at their perfection, and talked about the modern miracle of these babies’ conception and births through the egg donation of my son-in-law’s sister, and the generosity of a surrogate mother who carried the twins healthily to term. It was one of the most perfect moments in my life.

Sharing love. Sharing challenges. Supporting one another. Sharing wonder. This is how we family.

My grandchildren were born in June, which also happens to be Pride Month. What will they know of the struggles that brought us to the place where their daddies could be legally married? Will they know why, when PFLAG – the national organization to help with issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression – walks down Yonge Street during the Pride Parade in Toronto, men and women who are watching the parade from the sidewalk hold each other and sob?

My grandchildren are the son and daughter of two men who love each other so much that they were willing to take on the challenge of creating a family of their own in a world where that can be difficult, and resistant to such a thing. Financially, it is overwhelming. The legal paperwork is daunting. The persistence, the determination, the multitude of conversations, considerations and decisions that they tackled to get to parenthood makes me hopeful for their children. These babies are so wanted, and so deeply loved.

The day the twins were born, at around five in the evening, my husband and I assumed new roles. Since then I’ve been thinking of all of the books I’ll read to the children, and the songs we’ll sing. I’ll teach them to bake their father’s favourite cookies. I’ll take them to Young People’s Theatre. We’ll hike and we’ll bike. My husband is building special kid-friendly farm scenes into his model train set. In other words, we’ll become like any other loving grandparents who hope to do right by their children’s children — with one particular difference.

One Saturday night earlier this month, a gunman walked into a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., reminding us that the world is still a dangerous place for LGBTQ people, and for the people who love them.

He reminded me that as a mother, as a grandmother, and most basically as a human being, I have a responsibility to fight homophobia and transphobia.

Of course I am an ally — but in order to call myself an ally I have to be an active one. In doing things like walking with PFLAG in Toronto’s annual Pride Parade and in writing about my family, I am taking a stand for my son and his husband. I am vocally supporting all of the same- sex marriages and partnerships and the “gayby babies” that may result from those relationships.

June 29, 2016 by Patti Paddle, TVO.org

Click here to read the entire article.

Adoption For Gay Couples is Still the Best Answer – The Message of Matter of Kelly S. v. Farah M.

Does this case render adoption for gay couples as unnecessary or is it simply an affirmation of another state’s more progressive parentage laws?

There has never been a stronger case for adoption for gay couples than Matter of Kelly S. v. Farah M.  I reported this week about a case out of the Second Department Appellate Division in New York affirming a Suffolk County Family Court decision granting visitation to a non-biological lesbian mother. At first glance, this appears to create new law in New York, doing away with previous NY law holding that a non-biological mother does not have standing to seek custody or visitation.  But on further inspection, its true message is that the only way to avoid costly and bitter court battles is through adoption for gay couples.

adoption for gay couples

Facts of the case – Kelly Steagall and Farah Martin met and entered into a relationship in 2000 and became registered domestic partners in California in 2004. They were legally married there in 2008.  Ms. Martin conceived two children through artificial insemination who were born in March of 2007 and April of 2009.  The couple used the same known donor for each child and, instead of using a doctor or fertility clinic to assist with the insemination, they privately inseminated at home.  After moving to New York in 2012, the couple separated in 2013 and Kelly moved to Arizona.  Kelly filed a visitation petition in Suffolk County New York in 2014.

Ms. Martin objected to Ms. Steagall’s status as a legal parent stating that New York law did not support her position and, in what the court saw a self-serving move, sued the known donor to establish that he was the other “true” parent.

What the court said – Appellate division Judge Roman, in her affirmation of the lower Family Court’s ruling, stated that because the couple was in a registered domestic partnership and subsequent marriage in California when the children were born, California law, which is far more progressive that New York family law, should govern and therefore, Ms. Steagall’s parentage could be recognized under California law.

New York Law – In New York County, Surrogate Judge Kristin Booth Glen, in a case entitled In the Matter of Sebastian, discusses the issue of establishing parental rights for a non-biological parent specifically.  The case involves married lesbian couple who used an anonymous sperm donor to have a child. Glen concludes, when discussing the non-biological mother’s relationship with the child that, “the only remedy available here that would accord the parties full and unassailable protection is a second-parent adoption pursuant to New York Domestic Relations Law (“DRL”) § 111 et seq.”  Glen further states, “that a judicial order of adoption in one state must be afforded full faith and credit in every state, and that there can be no “public Policy” exception to that mandatory recognition…”.

This case essentially relies on a marital presumption of parentage. In California, a registered domestic partnership at the time was viewed for all intents and purposes as a marriage.  While it is true that many states have what is called a “martial presumption of parentage,” it is applied differently in different states.  In New York State, there is specific case law that holds that the marital presumption of parentage does not apply to same-sex couples.  That case is called “Matter of Paczkowski v. Paczkowski.”  In that case, the appellate division of the Second Department of New York, the same court that decided the Matter of Kelly S. v. Farah M., held that the “presumption of legitimacy… is one of a biological relationship, not a legal status.”

In essence, the court says that a marriage does not create a legal right between a non-biological parent and a child.  While it may be an indication of intent to be a parent, as would a non-biological parent’s name on a birth certificate, the only way to actually create the legal relationship that guarantees the security that all same-sex families need, is through adoption for gay couples, and in some states, a parentage order.  Unfortunately, New York currently does not have the capacity to issue a parentage order but there is legislation in committee in Albany that may change that.

How does this case affect Gay couples? – The take away from this case may not be what many of us in the LGBT legal community want, particularly in New York. While the language in the decision is expansive and is certainly heading in the right direction, it does not change the law in New York.  Had Kelly Steagall and Farah Martin lived in New York, conceived and gave birth to their children in New York, the outcome of this case could have been vastly different and Kelly Steagall would still, under current New York law, have had to fight in the courts for visitation to the children she had helped to raise since their birth.  No one factors into their family equation to emotional and financial costs of fighting to see the children to whom they area  parent, nor should they.  But the reality of the situation is much more nuanced.  If you are a New York resident, second or step parent adoption for gay couples is the best and only way to ensure that the emotional and financial costs of litigation can be avoided.

Anthony M. Brown, head of Nontraditional Family and Estates division of Albert W. Chianese & Associations, has extensive experience in helping same-sex couples through the adoption process, having gone through the process himself. If you have yet to create a legal relationship with your child or children, call 212-953-6447 or email Anthony at Anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

Same-Sex Parents (and Our Kids) Speak Out

Same-sex relationship recognition is up for a vote in both Italy and Switzerland in the coming weeks—and same-sex parents are, not surprisingly, helping to push for equality. And in Australia, one 11-year-old girl is speaking out for her family.

Italy’s civil union bill comes up for a vote next Tuesday, and includes a provision that would allow for second-parent (or stepchild) adoptions. Martina and Julia, a same-sex parents of an infant live in Rome and were profiled in Vanity Fair Italy about their family. They discuss the 13 attempts in two countries (Denmark and England) to create their son, the community they found through the national organization for LGBT parents, Famiglie Arcobaleno (Rainbow Families), how they have tried to legally protect their family, and their response to those who oppose equality for families like theirs. (Google Translate does a decent, though not perfect, job for those who don’t read Italian.)


The New York Times, in its coverage of the Italian civil union debate, also led with a parenting story, that of Dario De Gregorio and Andrea Rubera. The men married in Canada, became parents of three children, then returned to their native Italy where their relationship was not recognized and custody of their children was divided because they could not adopt each other’s biological kids. The stepchild adoption provision of the civil union bill, however, may be “too far-reaching” for some legislators, the NYT reports.

CNN followed the NYT and a few days later dug further into De Gregorio and Rubera’s story in “Gay dads hope Italy approves law on same-sex civil unions and parenthood.” Rubera told CNN that opponents of civil unions say “You stole your kids, you stole your kids from their mother. You denied to your kids to have a mother, you bought your kids from the supermarket like watermelons.” He adds, “It’s difficult to imagine if you aren’t living in Italy … how strong and awful the public debate about civil unions has become.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Mombian.com, January 29, 2016

Gay adoption facts for protecting your family

Gay adoption facts for protecting your family

As the laws in New York struggle to keep up with marriage equality, many families are left feeling vulnerable and confused about making sure their family and parental rights are as legally protected as their marriage. Here are a few gay adoption facts and common concerns and what you need to know.

We are ready to adopt a child and looking for gay adoption facts. Can adopt as a couple?

Yes. Same sex couples in New York can jointly petition for adoption, and they need not be married. This may, however, vary by state. If planning to adopt outside of New York, you will need to check the specific state laws.

We are married and having a child through surrogacy or artificial insemination. Is the non biological parent required to adopt our child separately?

In short, yes. Even though the names of both parents may be on the birth certificate, this does not automatically give the non biological parent a legal connection to their child. It’s important to create that legal bond through a stepparent adoption in the event that the relationship dissolves or the biological parent becomes deceased or incapacitated so that the non biological parent can legally maintain a relationship with the child.

How do I know which type of adoption to petition for?gay couple adoption, gay couples adopting, gay adoption facts, gay adoption statistics, lgbt adoption rights, adoption rights, gay adoption rights, gay adoptions

If you’re adopting a child together, a joint adoption will create a legal bond between the child and both parents and is in most cases the best option. If you plan on adopting the biological or adopted child of your partner, whether you are using a surrogate, sperm donor, or your partner already had a biological or adopted child, the specific type of adoption generally depends on whether there is another legal parent already established. If you and your partner are married, generally you would go through the stepparent adoption process. If you are unmarried, you would petition under the co parent or 2nd parent adoption process.

Do I need to track down the other biological parent to consent?

If you had a child through a joint adoption, then typically both parents of the child have already given up their parental rights. In the case of either artificial insemination or surrogacy, legal parentage may be addressed and established prior to the child’s birth and is much simpler if the other biological parent has already given up their legal parental rights. An “adoption surrender” may be needed if the other biological parent has never legally given up their parental rights, or if the child had another adoptive parent in the past.

Will the adoption be valid across state lines?

Yes. Once legal parentage is established through adoption, that child-parent relationship will be recognized nationally.


The main point to remember about gay adoption facts for families is to make sure that both parents have established a legal relationship with their children. Anthony M. Brown, the head of Nontraditional Family and Estates division of Albert W. Chianese & Associations, is here to help you make sure that the legal bond of your family reflects your emotional and parental bond. He can help you decide the best course of action to protect your parental rights. Call 212-953-6447 or email me to answer any questions you may have about protecting your family!

The Essential Nature of Second Parent Adoption

What is Second Parent Adoption?

Second parent adoption (also sometimes known as co-parent adoption) is the administrative process through which one partner in a same-sex relationship can become the legally recognized parent of their partner’s biological or adopted child, along with their partner and without the other partner’s parental rights being terminated. Although morally parents should not have to adopt their own children, for whom they planned either biologically through their partner or through adoption, it is strongly advisable to go through this process in order to ensure the security of the child in case of the initial parent’s death, and for logistical purposes when parental responsibility is required in legal, medical and other situations. This is advisable even if the parents are married or in a civil union, as some States and countries do not recognize the legal relationship of the parents to be an indicator of their relationship to their child. Second parent adoption is usually the process taken by unmarried couples, as step-parent adoption is available for those adopting their spouse’s child.


Why choose Second Parent Adoption?

Second parent adoptions are widely viewed by LGBT legal rights experts as the best option for children, as it has been found that it increases emotional, psychological, legal and financial security. It is common to think that if you are married or in a civil partnership, you are legally safe when it comes to your rights as a parent. In some places, this is true. New York, for example, recognizes both same-sex partners as parents of a child without second parent adoption being a legal requirement. If, however, you ever want to visit relatives in a different State or go travelling to a different country, it is essential that you are legally recognized as the parent on an international level. Your legal parental status affects decisions such as your child’s healthcare, where they go to school and who would look after them in case of parental death. In 2014 a controversial decision was reached by a Judge in New York, who refused to grant a second parent adoption based on the fact that the couple’s rights were protected whilst they remained in New York.


Differences in State Law

Although every State must allow adults in same-sex relationships to petition for secondSame-sex Parenting Wins Increased Rights in Oklahoma parent adoption if the partners are married, the same does not apply for those in relationships that are not legally binding. Fourteen States currently allow the process for non-married same-sex partners:

California; Colorado; Connecticut; District of Columbia; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Maine; Massachusetts; New Jersey; New York; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania and Vermont.

These fourteen further States have allowed the process for couples at some point:

Alaska; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Iowa; Louisiana; Maryland; Minnesota; Oregon; Rhode Island; Texas; Washington and West Virginia.

There are also States that prohibit or limit fostering and adoption by LGBT adults. The current limitations include:


  1. The Alabama Court of Appeals ruled that (unmarried) same-sex couples cannot use the stepparent adoption procedures. However, married same-sex spouses must be allowed to do so.
  2. Arizona gives a preference to married couples over a single adult in adoption placement.
  3. The Kansas Court of Appeals recently ruled that Kansas does not permit second parent or co-parent adoption by unmarried couples.
  4. A Kentucky court has said that Kentucky does not permit unmarried couples to use the stepparent adoption procedures.
  5. Mississippi has a statute that prohibits adoptions by couples of the same gender, but under the Supreme Court ruling, Mississippi must allow same-sex spouses to adopt on equal terms with other married couples.
  6. Nebraska does not permit co-parent adoption by unmarried couples.
  7. North Carolina does not permit co-parent adoption by unmarried couples.
  8. Ohio does not permit co-parent adoption by unmarried couples.
  9. Utah does not permit anyone cohabiting in a non-marital sexual relationship to adopt. Utah also gives a preference to married couples over any single adult in adoptions or foster care placement.
  10. Wisconsin does not permit second parent or co-parent adoption by unmarried couples.

Getting Help with The Process

Deciding to adopt a child is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. It is a decision made from a place of extraordinary love and compassion and one that will take you on an incredible journey; a pathway that is hopefully filled with joy and ends with the family you dream of. It can also be an overwhelming experience; dealing with myriad professionals such as lawyers, agencies and physicians can be stressful and it is best to start from a place of knowledge and confidence. Anthony M. Brown is head of the Nontraditional Family and Estates Division of the law firm of Albert W. Chianese & Associates and specializes in same-sex relationship estate planning and co-parent adoption. If you have questions about adoption you can get in touch with him here.

Step Parent Adoption

To read more about Step Parent Adoption, click here.