Following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning state bans on gay marriage, judges are beginning to approve second-parent adoptions for LGBT families to give gay parents legal rights to the children they’ve been raising for years. The problem is not all states allow second parent adoptions. However, with the recent approval of gay marriage this is changing.
As is the case for Cari Searcy, Kim McKeand and their 9-year-old son Khaya who will go before a judge in Mobile, Alabama next week to get the legal recognition for what they’ve been for last decade: a family of three.
They expect a judge to approve Searcy’s second-parent adoption petition for the son that McKeand, 37, gave birth to in 2005. “I think it’s just going to be an overwhelmingly happy experience for us all. It’s a day that we’ve been waiting for a long time,”
For same-sex couples, it is often the case that there is only one legal parent even though two people may equally parent the child and think of themselves as co-parents. This is because the status as a legal parent is automatically conveyed to the parent who has a biological connection to a child, such as a biological mom or biological dad. Similarly, while some couples raise an adopted child together, only one of them may have officially become the adoptive parent because some agencies prohibit same-sex couples from adopting together but permit an LGBT individual to do so.
A second-parent adoption allows a second parent to adopt a child without the "first parent" losing any parental rights. In this way, the child comes to have two legal parents. It also typically grants adoptive parents the same rights as biological parents in custody and visitation matters.
Family law varies from state to state. You should consult an attorney familiar with these issues in your state for help drawing up such documents.Sean Lewis (Sean@MusicCityVisa.com) is an immigration attorney based in Nashville, Tennessee [Tel: +1 (615) 226-4236]. He has filed many same-sex visa, marriage and adoption petitions for LGBT spouses and fiancés before the immigration service and U.S. consulates following the US Supreme Court decision. Sean has local ties to Puerto Vallarta and is married to a native of Nayarit and Vallarta. For those in Mexico, Sean may be contacted at his Guadalajara phone (33) 5004-2258, or on his web site www.MusicCityVisa.com.
Image courtesy Michelle Rolls-Thomas, AP