How Did the Law Regarding Same-Sex Adoption Change in the U.S.?

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For the longest time, same-sex couples weren’t able to adopt children in this country. If a LGBT person was lucky, they could adopt a child on their own and then raise the child with their partner. But to do this, they had to deny their sexual orientation. Adoption agencies would never approve an adoption for someone who was LGBT.

As more and more states legalized same-sex marriage, more LGBT couples became able to adopt children. This isn’t because adoption agencies suddenly lost their biases and discriminatory attitudes. It’s only because there was no longer a legal basis for their denying same-sex adoptions.

Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage, adoption agencies relied on an applicant’s marital status to deny an adoption. This meant that, since LGBT couples couldn’t legally marry, they couldn’t legally adopt children either.

All of this changed a few years ago. There were two major cases that finally made LGBT couple adoptions possible. Houston LGBT lawyers are very familiar with these cases as they paved the way for their clients to achieve their dreams of becoming parents.

Obergefell v Hodges in 2015

Although a lot of people think the State of Texas decided to make same-sex marriage legal on their own, that’s not the case. It wasn’t until the Supreme Court handed down their ruling in Obergefell v Hodges on June 26, 2015 that gay marriage became legal in Texas.

In this case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Constitution guarantees the right to marry to all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation. This meant that, finally, every state had to legalize gay marriage.

Since married couples have the right to jointly adopt a child, Obergefell v Hodges meant that, now, all gay couples have the right to adopt as well. This is because the Supreme Court held that all married couples are entitled to the same rights. This meant that right to marry, by extension, also provided the LGBT community with the right to adopt.

Same-Sex Adoption Still Wasn’t Available in All States

Even though the Supreme Court had, essentially, legalized same-sex adoption in Obergefell v Hodges, that didn’t mean all states had to follow suit. Some states had stricter adoption laws than others. This meant that there were still states where same-sex couples were not allowed to adopt.

In 2016, a Federal Court struck down a law in Mississippi that banned same-sex adoptions. The law had been in placed in Mississippi since 2000. The judge stated that the law was a violation of the Equal Protection Claus of the United States Constitution.

This finally knocked down the last legal hurdle to same-sex, couple adoptions. Now, the United States Constitution protects same-sex couples right to adopt. They have the right to do so as individuals or as couples.

There Are Still Practical Challenges to Same-Sex Adoption in This Country

Houston LGBT attorneys understand that, although same-sex adoption is legal, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. There are still many practical obstacles to a same-sex, couple’s adoption.

There are many faith-based organizations that rely on their religion to discriminate against members of the LGBT community. This is based on religious freedom bills that protect private organizations from certain types of inclusion.

This means that, for gay couples, it may be a better option to use private adoptions rather than adoption agencies. Some adoption agencies are run by religious organizations. They may not come right out and say they’re denying an application because the candidates are LGBT. They simply come up with other, more arbitrary reasons for denying their application.

Why is it Important to Legally Adopt?

Because it can be so difficult for a same-sex couple to adopt a child, you may choose to have one of you complete an individual adoption. If this is the case, it’s really important that you follow up with a second-parent adoption afterwards.

It’s important to legally adopt your child for many reasons, including:

  • You want to protect your child’s rights to your inheritance
  • You want both parents to be recognized by the school, doctors and the community as the child’s parents
  • You want to be able to obtain your children’s medical records and authorize medical treatment

If you have any questions about adopting a child, or need help in securing an adoption, call Eddington & Worley today. Your lawyer will stand by you throughout the entire process. This could be the most important thing you do so you want to make sure you do it right.