Gay Couples in Florida Face Easier Road to Adoption
Since 2010, when the Florida Supreme Court struck down the state’s prohibition against gay adoption as unconstitutional, couples utilized what was known as the two-parent adoption. In the traditional situation, one partner had a biological child – either the woman using donated sperm and her own egg, or a man using a surrogate with his own sperm – with the intention that both partners would raise the child as their own, the same as a husband-wife couple. Because same-sex marriage was not recognized, the biological parent could not put his or her partner’s name on the birth certificate.
Instead, the non-biological parent had to legally adopt the child through a second parent adoption in order to have any rights to the child. The process was not only lengthy and costly, but required that the non-biological parent go through the rigorous adoption process of submitting to home studies, background checks and providing character references – all this despite the fact that the couple may have been together for years, planned together to have the child, and were raising the child in a two-parent home.
Couples had to go through the same process if they were adopting a child with no biological ties to either partner. Because although Florida law prohibited adoption by gay and lesbian couples, it did not prohibit a gay or lesbian individual to adopt. So one partner could adopt a child from an adoption agency and, once completed, the other partner could move to adopt the child as well.
Now that gay and lesbian couples can marry in Florida, the process should be simplified by allowing the non-biological partner to adopt the child through the state’s stepparent adoption laws (this assumes that the couple legally weds in Florida). These adoptions are less intrusive than the traditional two-parent adoption process gay and lesbian couples were required to go through, and take considerably less time and money to be finalized.
Unlike the traditional adoption process, step-parent adoptions do not require a home visit or background check. Instead, the stepparent and biological parent may file a joint petition for stepparent adoption, along with a consent signed by the other biological parent, if applicable, waiving parental rights. Following the adoption, the non-biological parent would have all the rights and responsibilities over the child as a biological parent.
Boca Raton Adoption Attorneys
The decision to adopt a child is filled with emotion and for many couples, fulfills a lifelong dream of having children. The changing face of Florida’s family law means that for gay and lesbian couples, the dream of raising a child is now a little easier. If you and your partner are raising children together, it is important to make sure that each partner has full legal rights to the children. Our Boca Raton adoption attorneys can help make that happen. With more than 50 years’ combined experience handling termination of parental rights and adoption cases, the adoption attorneys at Schwartz | White can make the dream of becoming a parent a reality. Contact our office to begin the adoption process today.