First comes love, then comes marriage. Then comes the confounding labyrinth of US state adoption laws that are not only creating substantial confusion for same-sex couples but are actually working to prevent such couples from adopting, despite the Supreme Court’s clear recognition of marriage, and its benefits, as a fundamental right.
While many states have embraced the natural progression of same-sex marriage to same-sex adoption, others still cling to the “traditional” definition of family—refusing to align parentage, guardianship, and custody laws with the changing nature of today’s family makeup.
What is parentage?
Understanding adoption laws necessarily begins with an understanding of the concept of “parentage.” Parentage refers to the legal relationship between a parent and a child, which creates certain rights and obligations between two people—similar to that of marriage, guardianship, or even employer/employee. Under the Uniform Parentage Act (which is followed at least in part by all 50 states), the parentage bond is created in the following ways:
Giving birth to a childBeing married to the child’s biological mother at the time of conceptionVoluntarily acknowledging paternity when the child is bornTesting positive for paternity through a DNA testAdopting
Establishing the parentage link through the first four ...