For most of America’s existence, it was assumed by the courts and by the populace at large that adoption should be limited to married couples. After all, the purpose of adoption was to provide a stable, “morally upright” environment to an adopted child—and it was assumed that unmarried parents (specifically, homosexual couples) weren’t capable of raising a healthy child together.
Today, no research suggests that homosexual or unmarried couples are any less capable than married heterosexual couples to raise children in a loving, stable home. In fact, much research suggest otherwise—that children raised by homosexual couples are just as healthy as (if not more so) their counterparts. It’s worth noting that unmarried or single individuals are more likely than married couples to adopt older children or children with special needs—perhaps some of the most vulnerable children in the foster care system.
Even today, these laws are limiting the ability of homosexual partners to adopt children they’ve been raised their entire life.
Second-Parent Adoption Laws
Similar to a step-parent adoption, second-parent adoption allows an individual to adopt their partner’s biological or legal child. Prior to second-parent adoption, unmarried or homosexual couples were forced to raise children with only one legally-recognized parent. Imagine if the child you’ve raised since they were a baby had as much legal connection to you as a stranger. Imagine if your partner (their legal parent) died—how could you argue for your right to retain custody?
In the 1990s, the New York Supreme Court faced such a question and came to the following conclusion:
Adoption laws were written to facilitate the adoption of as many children as possible. In the spirit of that, they ruled that adoption could be possible by a second parental figure (regardless of marital status or sexual preference), even if the original statutes were not originally written with these arrangements in mind.
The highest court in New York ruled that the important thing was allowing couples—all couples—to adopt one of the 400,000+ children in the U.S. looking for a loving home.
Yet, despite all this, some states still have statutes preferring married heterosexuals over other couples when it comes to adoption proceedings. Arizona and Louisiana have both enacted laws to support the preference of married heterosexual couples and struck down laws that would have allowed for unmarried couples to adopt.
There is a limited pool of potential homes, and an ever-growing population of children who need homes. By holding on to an old, unsubstantiated view of what a family can be, legislative bodies in Arizona, Louisiana, and elsewhere are contributing to an increasingly desperate foster care system.
Miller Law Group is grateful that Massachusetts is part of a growing group of states that has recognized the love and care that all couples can provide—including unmarried and same-sex couples. Our state is one of the few states that allows for simultaneous adoption by both partners in a common law marriage. Not only has our state allowed for unmarried adoption—we’ve made it faster!
If you’re looking into adoption a child with your partner, speak with Miller Law Group today. Our Massachusetts adoption attorneys are more than happy to examine your options and legally recognize the family you’ve created together.