Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Same-Sex Couple Sues Over Michigan's Ban on Second Parent Adoption for Unmarried Parents

I've posted before about the benefits of second-parent adoption to protect families and children. A local TV station reports on a lesbian couple in Michigan suing over the ban on unmarried parents jointly adopting:
Imagine not being allowed to adopt a child you had raised since birth. That is what some same-sex partners are facing. Michigan is among a handful of states that still offers no legal protections for gays and lesbians – and that can have major consequences for their children.

* * *

A local lesbian couple has been raising three children since birth, kids who otherwise would have been in the foster care system. One of the women adopted one child – while the other woman had to adopt the other two – that’s because the law in Michigan won’t let them jointly adopt all three kids. And they’re hoping this lawsuit will change the lives of children all over Michigan.

April Deboer and Jayne Rowse have dedicated their lives to raising three small children – two of whom have special needs. April and Jayne are both nurses – and they have been in a committed relationship for more than a decade.

* * *

Because the Michigan Constitution bans same-sex marriage – same-sex couples cannot jointly adopt children.

“I don’t see how that puts the best interest of the child at the forefront,” says Rowse.

* * *

Nessel says the legal rights of children of same-sex couples are being hurt in many ways. If one of their parents dies, the other parent would have no legal claim to the child.

“So in the event something happened to her, not only would her children lose their mom, but they would also lose the only other parent they know and their sibling,” says Doboer.

Also, when April takes the boys to the doctor, she has to take Jayne with her. “I can’t legally sign for treatments. I can’t legally sign for anything. I have to wait for her to show up to the hospital in order to get treatment,” she says.

Lawyers say the children of same-sex couples also don’t have the same inheritance rights that other kids do. They also can’t receive social security disability from the non-adoptive parent, or health insurance. Also if a same-sex couple separates, they have no legal ability to see the children that they didn’t adopt.
Yeah, explain to me how this state of the law is good for children. It doesn't prevent gay people from adopting, it doesn't prevent gay people from parenting, if that's the goal of the lawmakers. It just makes sure that children are punished because some policy makers disapprove of the families their parents have created.


Anonymous said...

I agree that both should be allowed to be the legal parents of the children.

I just think there might be one statement they is not necessarily accurate. The other parent could be named legal guardian in a will should the other parent die. This would at least keep everyone together in this event. Wouldn't it?

malinda said...

Actually, a judge is not legally required to follow the guardianship appointment in a will -- it's considered a statement of preference, that's all. Certainly, the request is usually honored by the court.

But there have been cases where, especially with same-sex couples, a grandparent contests the guardianship appointment and the judge gives guardianship to the grandparent on the grounds that being raised by a gay/lesbian person isn't in the best interest of the child.

That's a very different (and much lower) standard from changing custody for a legal parent on the death of the other parent. That only happens on a showing of danger to the child or serious unfitness to parent, in addition to it being in the best interest of the child.

Anonymous said...

But isn't someone like a grandparent granted guardianship because they are biologically related to the child and the samesex partner isn't?

It doesn't make sense, within the context of most of the postings on this blog, that preference would or should be given to a non-biological parent (gay or otherwise) over a blood relative in any case.

Isn't it better for the child to be raised with the blood relative?

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