Mark and Jane decide to have a child. Jane becomes pregnant. Mark supports her, accompanies her to appointments, helps her through labor and delivery, and then brings the new mother and child home. Months later, the family of three shows up to court and Mark adopts his own child.
Obviously, this is not how becoming a parent works for most heterosexual couples. And, obviously, it shouldn’t work this way.
What may not be obvious, however, is that many gay and lesbian couples across the country are going through this exact process—adopting their own children. In fact, Circle recommends second-parent adoption for many of our same-sex couples who live in the United States. But why?
The answer lies in the nation’s patchwork of surrogacy and parenting laws. Some states allow pre-birth judgments of paternity (known as “pre-birth orders” or “PBOs”). Others allow judgments of paternity only after the child has been born. Some allow both parents in a same-sex relationship to be recognized on the birth certificate, regardless of who is the genetic parent. Others do not.
Following surrogacy arrangements, adoption may be the safest option for same-sex couples. A recent report on parenting rights for LGBT families explains:
A second-parent adoption will ensure full legal ties to both parents that are secure nationwide. Put differently, where available, a second-parent adoption can be a remedy to parenting law’s failure to otherwise LGBT parents.
While recognition of surrogacy varies across the country, states are generally required to give “full faith and credit” to adoptions. In other words, if a same-sex couple moves or travels from a surrogacy-friendly, LGBT-friendly state to a state where their rights are restricted, adoption gives them the best protection of their parental rights.
As the New York Times notes, adoption can clarify a variety of issues, from insurance coverage, to the ability of a non-genetic parent to write permission slips for school, to authority for medical decisions, to the issue of financial support.
Second-parent adoptions are not an ideal solution. LGBT families continue to be denied thousands of federal benefits. But until we can be sure that Mark and John’s parental rights would be secure across the country from birth in the same way that Mark and Jane’s are, second-parent adoptions can help provide security to same-sex parents who have chosen surrogacy as their path to parenthood.
You can learn more about becoming a parent through surrogacy here. To find information about becoming a surrogate, click here. If you have questions about whether a second-parent adoption is right for you, contact our legal department.