With the recognition of same-sex marriage in Georgia, same-sex couples now have access to an adoption choice that was previously available only to heterosexual couples: stepparent adoptions.
In the past, same-sex couples in Georgia who wanted to adopt a partner's child were limited to second-parent adoptions. However, Georgia law does not have a provision for second-parent adoptions. Neither are second-parent adoptions prohibited. As a result, some judges granted second-parent adoptions and some did not.
Same-sex couples can acquire children through adoption, a prior heterosexual relationship or assisted reproduction. If the child is acquired during the marriage, both partners are now legal parents automatically. However, if the child was acquired by one of the parents prior to the marriage, the partner does not automatically have parental rights.
Stepparent adoptions are appropriate in cases where the other biological parent is no longer involved in the child's life. Since a child can only have two parents, the other parent's rights must be fully and permanently terminated before the stepparent adoption can take place.
There many reasons why stepparent adoption may be right for you:
- It gives you the right to stay involved in the child's life should your marriage end in divorce.
- If gives you the right to have a say in important parenting decisions, such as education, medical care and religious upbringing.
- It establishes your child's legal rights to inherit and to certain benefits such as Social Security benefits if you die.
Jody A. Miller, Attorney at Law, handles stepparent adoptions for same-sex couples in the Atlanta area.