Adoptions With Love Blog

LGBTQ Adoption Cases Surface in Supreme Court

LGBTQ adoption has made great strides over the past several years. When the U.S. Supreme Court passed the Family Care Act in 2015, same-sex couples were finally given the basic American right to marry and grow their families through adoption. There have been, however, some recent cases of discrimination that have been brought to the Supreme Court and therefore raised concern among the LGBTQ+ community.

While adoption in the LGBTQ community has made significant progress in recent years, discrimination is an ongoing battle that Americans continue to fight. Pride and other advocacy groups around the country are making their voices heard. Protests and rallies have made a difference, but there continues to be a severe lack of equality for those within these identifying groups.

If you are an adoptive parent – or a hopeful adoptive parent – in the LGBTQ community, you should know that there are adoption agencies that are accepting and supportive of LGBTQIA+ families. Adoptions With Love works with eligible adults of all sexual preferences and gender identities. We know that a person’s gender or sexuality have nothing to do with their ability to parent. It is important to feel supported in this journey toward – and through – parenthood. We are with our LGBTQ+ families every step of the way.

An Overview of Recent LGBTQ Adoption Cases

  1. Denied in Nebraska

In late March 2021, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in favor of a lesbian couple that was struggling to adopt their 3-year-old child, who had been with them since birth. This is after an ongoing battle with their local court.
In July of 2020, a Dixon County judge denied this couple’s petition to adopt, claiming he had no jurisdiction to grant the request since they were listed in the documents as “wife and wife.” The judge had referred to a version of Black’s Law Dictionary that defined “wife” as “a woman who has a lawful living husband.”

Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court quickly ruled in favor of the couple this year, supporting their adoption in Nebraska. However, the attention-grabbing headlines in Nebraska sent a clear message of bigotry and homophobia within the legal adoption court proceedings.

2. Discrimination in Philadelphia

In more positive LGBTQ adoption news, a Christian adoption agency has finally announced it will serve same-sex parents nationwide.

Bethany Christian Services is the largest Protestant adoption agency in the U.S. It was only in March 2021 that the organization announced a policy change in an internal letter to employees. According to the New York Times, the letter did not specifically mention LGBTQ couples, but it read, in part, “We will now offer services with the love and compassion of Jesus to the many types of families who exist in our world today.”

The new policy is a significant change for the 77-year-old organization, which facilitates both adoption and foster placements in the U.S. Before March 2021, same-sex couples looking to foster or adopt a child in most states were referred to other adoption agencies.

3. A Victory for LGBTQ Parents in Indiana

Late last year, the LGBTQ community in Indiana celebrated a legal victory in adoption. In November of 2020, the state’s attorney general, Curtis Hill, filed a petition to reverse a lower court ruling. The ruling — made by the U.S 7th Circuit Court of Appeals – determined that both parties of same-sex couples should be listed as parents on the birth certificates of their children.

The original case involved Ashlee and Ruby Henderson. The Hendersons filed a federal lawsuit back in 2015, challenging their state’s birth records law. They sued the state health commissioner and their county’s officials because they would not list both as parents on the birth certificate of their son, whom Ruby had given birth to after artificial insemination.

After Indiana successfully appealed the case to the Chicago-based 7th Circuit, which determined that submitting both names on a birth certificate would prevent any discrimination, seven additional couples joined the suit as plaintiffs.
According to the appeals court, under Indiana law: “A husband is presumed to be a child’s biological father, so that both spouses are listed as parents on the birth certificate and the child is deemed to be born in wedlock.” The judges, however, decided: “There’s no similar presumption with respect to an all-female married couple – or for that matter an all-male married couple.”

This is big news for adoptions in Indiana.

Lessons Learned

These three cases serve as important reminders of the importance of LGBTQ+ support. They also serve as a reminder of the importance of proper wording in adoption laws to make sure LGBTQIA+ families have the same adoption rights as heterosexual and cisgender couples.

With the support of an inclusive adoption agency, like Adoptions With Love, Massachusetts families in the LGBTQIA+ community are able to grow their families with resources always available for them.

If you would like to learn more about LGBTQ adoption, contact Adoptions With Love. Call us any time at 800-722-7731, text us confidentially at 617-777-0072, or contact us online. You can also read our free eBook: A Guide to LGBTQ Adoption.

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