Same-Sex Couple Adoption
For many, bringing a child into their lives completes the family. Although LGBT or same-sex couples also long for a child to complete their family, their adoption journey can be more complicated. By virtue of the relationship or commitment, both partners in an LGBT couple are not granted the same rights and responsibilities to the child.
Generally, one or both partners in a same-sex couple may petition to adopt a child to make their family complete. The adoption process for LGBT couples can be particularly complex because there are many issues which must be addressed, including which parent must petition to obtain the legal right to the child and relinquishment of the other biological parent’s parental rights.
While many couples expect a positive or joyous result, there are many obstacles a same-sex couple may face during the adoption process. It is important to consult an experienced family law attorney to navigate this process.
Same-Sex Couple Adoption Lawyer in West Chester PA
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, we can help you maneuver this complex area of law. We have the training and experience necessarily to help our clients navigate the system. We put a high priority on client communication at every stage of the process.
You can speak one on one with a dedicated Pennsylvania family law attorney by calling (610) 692-8700 or send an online message for a free consultation so we can act as soon as possible. We are based in West Chester PA and serve clients throughout Chester County, Lancaster County and suburban Philadelphia including West Chester, Kennett Square, Oxford, Avondale, Landenberg, West Grove, Paoli, Malvern, Downingtown, Coatesville, Exton, Parkesburg, Berwyn and Devon. We have convenient meeting locations in Lancaster, Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, King of Prussia, and Radnor. Our family lawyers serve those with immediate legal needs in Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County and Lancaster County.
We are proud to serve those seeking to become parents throughout the Philadelphia area and Southeastern Pennsylvania area, including Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County and Lancaster County.
Pennsylvania LGBT Adoption Law Resource Center
- Who may adopt a child in the State of Pennsylvania?
- What adoption options are available to same-sex couples?
- What if a surrogate or donor does not want to relinquish rights?
- Why is adoption beneficial to same-sex couples?
Who May Adopt in Pennsylvania
In the State of Pennsylvania, both single individuals, who identify as LGBT, and same-sex couples may petition to adopt a child. One partner of the same-sex couple may choose to petition alone or the couple may jointly petition to adopt a child.
The way that people adopt often depends on their specific circumstances. Commonly, the following circumstances cause a same-sex couple to petition to adopt a child:
- Neither partner has a child and the couple wants a child to join the family;
- At least one person in the family has a child from a previous relationship, but the couple wants a child they can adopt together;
- One person has a biological child from a previous relationship and the couple wants full rights for same-sex co-parent; or
- One person has a biological child from a current relationship and the couple wants full rights for same-sex co-parent.
In the aforementioned scenarios, both partners may obtain legal rights to the child; however, the method of the adoption, timing, and complexity may differ. It is best to consult an experienced family law attorney in Pennsylvania when contemplating bringing a child into the family.
Available Adoption Options for Same-Sex Couples
Couples seeking to adopt a child in Pennsylvania have two options. The couple may choose to joint petition for adoption or go through the process of a second parent adoption (commonly referred to as a step-parent adoption). Most same-sex couples utilize the second parent adoption process.
Customarily, in second parent adoptions, one partner is the biological parent of the child and the other partner wants to secure legal right to the child. A second parent adoption requires the other biological parent voluntarily relinquish parental rights before the adoption can occur.
A second parent or stepparent adoption may be a viable option in many circumstances, including:
- Male couple uses a surrogate (woman, who carries the child for the couple, and is the biological mother). One partner is the biological father of the child.
- Male couple uses a gestational carrier (woman who carries the child for the couple, but is not the mother of the child). One partner is the biological father of the child.
- Lesbian couple uses a sperm donor, known or unknown. One partner is the biological mother of the child.
In the aforementioned scenarios, the non-biological parent must go through the second parent adoption process.
Another option for same-sex couples is the joint petition adoption. With a joint petition adoption, neither partner has legal right to the child. The partners petition for these rights and responsibilities together. Second parent and joint petition adoptions confer the same rights and responsibilities to the child.
Relinquishment of Parental Rights
For a couple to adopt a child, the biological parent must relinquish his or her rights to the child. The method or complexity of this issue depends on the circumstances. In the case of same-sex couples, who use a sperm donor or surrogate, it is a realistic concern that the surrogate or donor will not relinquish rights to the child after birth.
It is advised that couples enter into a preconception agreement with a surrogate or donor before conception of the child. This written and signed agreement should state in clear language that the surrogate or donor intends to voluntarily relinquish parental rights after the birth of the child.
While a preconception agreement may not force a surrogate or donor to relinquish parental rights, the agreement can be admitted in legal proceedings. If properly drafted and executed, the document will show the intent of the surrogate or donor to relinquish parental rights.
Benefits of Adoption for Same-Sex Couples
Adoption, particular the second parent adoption, grants significant benefits to both the child and non-biological parent, which would not otherwise legally exist.
Once the adoption is complete and finalized, the child receives the same benefits he or she would receive from a biological parent, including:
- Child is eligible dependent on health insurance and life insurance;
- Child may inherit from the non-biological parent;
- In the case of the non-biological parent’s death, the child may receive the parent’s federal benefits, including social security.
The non-biological parent also receives several rights and benefits, including:
- Right to make medical decisions for the child;
- Certain rights, including custody and visitation, in the event of the dissolution of the partnership.
Chester County Lawyer for Same-Sex Couples Seeking to Adopt
Adoption is a serious and complex matter. It is imperative to contact an experienced family lawyer to discuss the overall adoption process, including the obligations and benefits in legal parenthood.
Let our team of experienced family law attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices helps you become a legally recognized parent. We represent parents and parents-to-be throughout Coatesville, West Chester, Phoenixville, Downingtown, Berwyn, Willow Street, Lancaster, Ephrata, Newtown Square, Glen Mills, Media, Swarthmore, Radnor, Greater Philadelphia, and surrounding areas. Call us today at (610) 692-8700 or send an online message to set up a free consultation.