How to Adopt for Same-sex Couples
Upon the birth of a child, parental rights automatically default to the baby’s biological parents, also known as the natural parents. An LGBTQ parent will likely turn to adoption when one person in the couple has given birth to a child from someone else outside of the relationship.
When a child comes from a parent’s former relationship, it is common for the new person in the picture to want to show how much they love and care for the child by legally adopting them. It’s a way of moving the relationship forward. If it has become obvious to the couple that they’re staying together for the long haul, it makes sense to move ahead with the legal step of adoption.
This tends to be true whether marriage is part of the plan or not. It’s a matter of commitment and a show of affection and devotion. Through adoption, permanence is brought into the new parent’s relationship with the child.
In some cases, neither of the parents in the same-sex relationship are biologically related to the child. Fortunately for LGBTQ parents living in New Jersey, same-sex couples are just as eligible to go through with adoption as heterosexual couples are.
Although it wouldn’t be necessary for a parent to adopt their own kids in an ideal world, it’s still the best thing to do if you’re a nonbiological parent in a same-sex relationship if you want to secure your parental rights.
Adoption is a way of protecting these rights regardless of where you live or visit on vacation. It’s an option for hopeful parents in a same-sex marriage, civil union, or registered domestic partnership. The possible routes that LGBTQ parents have are broken down into two categories: second-parent adoption and stepparent adoption.
With second-parent adoption, it doesn’t matter if the relationship between the parents is recognized by law. The parent is allowed through this procedure to adopt their partner’s biological or adoptive child without ending the legal parental status of the original parent. In most states, this is the most common way that LGBTQ parents successfully adopt children. For those living in New Jersey filing for second-parent adoption, the court action is brought in your home county.
The other course of action is called stepparent adoption. In New Jersey, same-sex parents who are married to their partner are able to adopt a child using the process that a heterosexual stepparent goes through to adopt. The most essential part of this process is gaining legal permission for the adoption from the child’s other natural parent.
A stepparent adoption can also be accomplished by ending the rights that the other parent has to the child. When terminating someone’s parental rights, a hearing is typically necessary to prove the validity of the reasoning for taking the parent away from the child. There must be a serious case brought against the parent’s behavior, such as abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
It is not as common to move for termination of the other parent’s child rights as it is to simply ask for consent, but it’s still something that happens regularly. The process is much more challenging, and it may be a good idea to contact a New Jersey adoption lawyer for guidance.
Starting the Process
The first thing that a same-sex couple needs to do to start the adoption process is to file an official complaint. This must include all relevant demographic data on you, your child, and the other parent. Details regarding any other kids in the mix and the length of time that this child has been living with which parent should also be noted. This is also when the name that the child will go by after the adoption is decided.
A consent affidavit must be signed by the biological parent for their approval of the adoption to be legally recognized. In these cases, although a hearing is still required, it is simply a formality to go through before the process is completed with a judgment for adoption. Since everyone has agreed to the adoption, there shouldn’t be any hang-ups at this step.
Call a New Jersey adoption lawyer at Cofsky & Zeidman today at (856) 429-5005 to find out more about how we can assist you in these types of matters.