Adoption is a complex matter for any family. Although recent advances in marriage equality have protected many rights of adoptive LGBT parents, legislation is still catching up on some issues surrounding parental rights.
If you are in a same-sex relationship and are considering adoption or conceiving using a donor, it’s important to be aware of the issues that same-sex couples face to make sure that your parental rights are protected.
Let’s take a look at how recent advances have allowed LBGT couples to adopt – and at a few areas that are still lacking.
Legality of LBGT Adoption in Florida
For nearly four decades, Florida banned adoption by same-sex couples. However, the ban was ruled unconstitutional in 2010, and in 2015 the ban was at last lifted, finally making it legal for LGBT couples to adopt in Florida.
This allows many parents to secure parental rights to children they may have been raising for years, and provides other same-sex couples the opportunity to start a family through adoption. No matter how you look at it, the change is a major victory for gay rights.
However, legislation is still catching up, so there are some special considerations for same-sex adoptive couples. Further, adoptive couples may still face discrimination in some cases.
Potential Discrimination in the Adoption Process
The adoption interview and screening process is in-depth for any potential adoptive parents, and if you are applying to adopt, you can expect some probing questions. However, for adoptions through state-run agencies, you cannot be discriminated against based upon your sexual orientation. If you suspect that a judge has ruled against your adoption due to your sexual orientation or gender identity, you should contact a family lawyer to appeal the decision.
On the other hand, many adoption agencies are privately run by religious, pro-life organizations. These organizations may still be able to discriminate against same-sex adoptive parents if they do not receive state funding.
Sperm Donor Parental Rights
Many lesbian couples choose to have biological children using a sperm donor. Under Florida law, egg, sperm, and embryo donors have no parental rights to the child when using assisted reproductive technology. This is applicable whether conception occurs in-clinic or at home, and whether the donor is known or anonymous.
However, it is still advisable to have a sperm donor agreement that all parties sign prior to conception. It is also highly recommended to consult a family lawyer prior to conceiving, and for a family attorney to complete a formal termination of parental rights after the child is born. This makes certain that everyone is on the same page, and that nothing can come under question later.
Birth Certificates When Same-Sex Couples Have Kids
For married same-sex couples giving birth, Florida recently agreed for both parents’ names to be listed on the birth certificate. This overturned past legislation, which allowed for only the biological parent’s name to be shown.
Although this was an important advancement, it is important to note that having one’s name on the child’s birth certificate does not guarantee parental rights to the non-biological parent. It is still essential to take additional steps to ensure parental rights.
How do you do this?
Ensuring Parental Rights
Importantly, under current legislation, non-biological parents have no parental rights in same-sex marriages. This means that if one spouse has children from a previous relationship, or a biological child is born through a sperm or egg donor, the non-related parent has no legal parental rights.
This becomes important in the event of a divorce, or if the biological parent passes away. For same-sex couples with one biological parent, it is crucial that the non-biological parent adopt the child to ensure parental rights. No couple plans for divorce or death, but to protect your children you must be legally ready for these unfortunate events.
Some families may be tempted to wait until they are done having children, and then adopt all the children at once to save on legal fees. Although adopting multiple children at once is more cost-effective, it is not advisable to leave the family in legal limbo. A skilled Florida family lawyer can help to accommodate your family’s needs and financial concerns.
Where Does Transgender Adoption Fit In?
Under Florida law, your gender identity should not affect your parental rights, or rights to adopt a child. Florida courts are only allowed to consider issues that affect the child’s well-being and upbringing, and transgender and cisgender individuals are equally capable parents.
If you feel that a judge has denied your adoption due to your gender identity or sexual orientation, or if you need advice on how best to stay in your child’s life, you should contact a Florida family attorney immediately to help.