Second-parent adoptions for same-sex couples may seem like a throwback to the time before Obergefell. Do non-biological parents still need to formally adopt their own child if they are legally married?
After all, if a straight married couple conceives using donated sperm, the husband is typically considered the legal father – why shouldn’t it work with same way with two legally married wives?
In theory, it should. In reality, many state laws still do not adequately address same-sex parentage. While some states are moving toward gender-neutral language to clarify how existing laws apply to same-sex couples, other states may move in the opposite direction. (In Tennessee, for example, two legislators are responding to a same-sex child custody case by attempting to give words like “husband” and “wife” strict biological definitions, The Tennessean reported recently.)
This means that during situations that are already challenging, such as health emergencies or custody proceedings in divorce, some non-biological parents can still have difficultly proving they are in fact their child’s parent. A second-parent adoption can provide another layer of protection
And even if you feel confident that your parental rights won’t be challenged in Colorado, what happens if you move – or even travel – to another state?
For these reasons, many advocacy groups, including the National Center of Lesbian Rights, encourage all same-sex parents, whether married or not, to adopt their non-biological children, even if they are on the birth certificate.
It’s easier to do this in Colorado than in many other states, with procedures that specifically address second-parent adoptions for unmarried parents in a same-sex relationship. An attorney can help you navigate the process.