One of the most exciting pieces of news a partner can tell her significant other is, “I’m pregnant!” Instantly, the endorphins kick in and there’s that overjoyed rush of adrenaline. The fear of never conceiving melts away, and you begin to relax. In nine months, your child will be here. You two will finally have the family you’ve dreamt about, and spent so long planning. Then another fear surfaces. Only one of you will be considered the child’s legal parent.
With heterosexual couples, there’s something called, “marital presumption.” Basically, this means that when a man and woman have a child together, the law recognizes them both as the child’s parents. This is not the case with same sex couples. Married or unmarried, lesbian and gay units must go through extra lengths to ensure they both have equal parental rights.
Enter the magic of second parent adoption.
Legal and Non-Legal Parents
When a woman gives birth to a child, her partner or spouse won’t share the same legal parental rights even if both of their names are on the child’s birth certificate. Courts have yet to resolve this part, despite legalizing marriage for same sex couples in 2015. So, in the beginning, the woman who initially gave birth is the only one considered the legal parent.
This is the same with lesbian and gay couples who choose adoption outside sperm and egg donors. While they both can begin the process together, only one partner can adopt the child at a time. In the eyes of the law, one is consider the legal parent while the other is seen as the non-legal parent.
Second Parent Adoption
If the non-legal parent wishes to share equal parental rights as their spouse or life-partner, they must petition the courts to adopt the child individually. Under second parent adoptions, both parents are protected. Neither of them must terminate or relinquish their rights in the process.
During the process, the courts may investigate the second parent a bit more closely than the first, to ensure that the non-legal parent has the best interest of the child at heart. They will want to know if the non-legal parent lives with the child, what kind of interaction they have, and how much responsibility the non-legal parent shows when teaching and taking care of the child. Additionally, they will make sure if the legal parent gives his or her consent to the second parent adoption.
Benefits of Second Parent Adoption
Going through the process of second parent adoption may feel like a hassle, but it has shown beneficial to same sex couples. For starters, if you both choose to adopt your child, the law will recognize you as the child’s biological parents. This is huge. It will protect both of you, and your child, in the long run. So, in the event of a death, divorce or another form of split, the court will see you both as having equal rights.
Choosing this path to legal parenthood is individual to each couple. If you need extra advise, reaching out to other couples who have gone through the process could shed some more insight. Reading others’ stories online may help as well. Overall, though, second parent adoption is a wonderful option until the courts further resolve parental rights for same sex couples.
Adoption Choices of Nevada
As always, depending on where you live, state law can vary. Be sure to research the regulations and requirements within your state when considering and pursuing second parent adoption. Also, consult with your adoption agency and/or lawyer for more specific information pertaining to your individual circumstances.
For more information on how Adoption Choices of Nevada can help, contact our website here or call us at 775-825-4673 (Reno Office) or 702-474-4673 (Las Vegas Office). Our hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm PST.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Rachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2011, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.
In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc., Not for Profit 501(c)(3), in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Adoption Choices Inc.
When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.
Associated Press. “For Same-Sex Couples, a New Path to Legal Parenthood.” Las Vegas Sun, 22 Nov. 2018, lasvegassun.com/news/2018/nov/22/for-same-sex-couples-a-new-path-to-legal-parenthoo/.
“Can Gay Couples Adopt? What You Need to Know about Gay Adoption.” Stovall Adoption, www.nevadaadoptionlawyer.com/nevada-adoption-information/same-sex-lgbtq-adoption-process/.
Chang, Ailsa, and Selena Simmons-Duffin. “Same-Sex Spouses Turn To Adoption To Protect Parental Rights.” NPR, NPR, 22 Sept. 2017, www.npr.org/2017/09/22/551814731/same-sex-spouses-turn-to-adoption-to-protect-parental-rights.
Human Rights Campaign. “Second Parent Adoption.” Human Rights Campaign, www.hrc.org/resources/second-parent-adoption.
“What Is a Second Parent Adoption?” FreeAdvice, family-law.freeadvice.com/family-law/adoption_law/second_parent_adoption.htm.
“What Is Second Parent Adoption, and Why Do I Need It?” Considering Adoption, consideringadoption.com/adopting/can-same-sex-couples-adopt/second-parent-adoption.