Although the LGBTQIA community has achieved remarkable progress in the realm of civil rights, the legal apparatus regarding domestic relations and matrimonial law remains somewhat outdated despite such progress. This can be seen in state law regarding adoption and parental rights. Insight into the history of LGBTQIA adoption and the remaining legal issues that face the community is required to gain a comprehensive understanding of the legal implications of adoption that uniquely affect LGBTQIA families.
History of Adoption for LGBTQIA Families
In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges that no state may infringe the right for same-sex couples to marry. By establishing this right for same-sex couples as the supreme law of the land, Obergefell marked a major shift in policy toward members of the LGBTQIA community.
Less than ten years before Obergefell, the Florida legislature legally banned same-sex marriage in 1997. For several years, same-sex couples formed registered partnerships. Decades before that, Florida banned same-sex couples from adopting in 1977. The ban was taken off the books a month after Obergefell was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Adoption Options and Issues
In general, adoptions in Florida may be accomplished using a few different methods:
- Placement through the Department of Children and Family Services (CFS)
- Placement through third-party agencies approved by CFS
- Attorneys acting as intermediaries for the adoption of out-of-state children
Despite the removal of the 1977 adoption ban, it remains somewhat rare for someone to adopt the biological child of their same-sex spouse or partner. However, adoption helps solidify certain legal rights regarding children, from parental rights to inheritance rights. Without completing the adoption process, it can be difficult for nonbiological parents to exercise rights regarding children they cared for.
Furthermore, same-sex adoptive parents risk facing discriminatory treatment by CFS agents. For example, there have been instances where placement was delayed or denied based on the adoptive parents’ sexual orientation. Those agents reasoned that growing up in an LGBTQIA household was potentially harmful to the child’s development, as the child risks becoming confused about their own gender and sexual orientation.
Adoption and Parentage
Under current laws, same-sex mothers are not qualified for recognition on a child’s birth certificate regardless of their marital status at the time of the child’s birth. As a result, adoption is the only way to extend parental rights for a child to the non-biological lesbian partner or spouse of the child’s biological mother.
Starting a Family Through Adoption? Call The Virga Law Firm, P.A.
At The Virga Law Firm, P.A., we closely monitor the legislative landscape for issues that present legal challenges that are unique to members of the LGBTQIA community. If you are a member of the LGBTQIA community with hopes of starting your own family, we can advise you on the pertinent legal issues associated with the adoption process.To get started on your path towards having a family, call The Virga Law Firm, P.A. or contact us online for a consultation exploring the extent of your legal options today.