Family Formation

Equality Virginia believes that LGBT Virginians seeking to adopt should not be subject to discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Equality Virginia believes that Virginia law should be amended to allow second-parent adoptions.  Second-parent adoptions are necessary to afford children in LGBT families the two legal parents that they deserve, and are essential in the absence of full marriage equality that would assure equal rights and equal responsibilities.

Background

Adoption occurs in two ways:

  1. Traditional adoption: A person or couple adopt a child from foster-care or other child placement source. Second-parent adoption: One partner or spouse in a couple already has a child (biological or adopted). The other spouse or partner adopts that child so that both partners are the legal parents of the child.
  2. The second type of adoption is critical to LGBT families.  When both members of the couple are recognized as the legal parents of the child, the child is guaranteed numerous critical rights, including:
  • the child can receive health benefits from both parents;
  • both parents are able to make key decisions regarding the child’s health and welfare;
  • in the event of the death of one of the parents, the child is guaranteed that the other parent will retain legal custody.

Before any adoption can be approved, a judge must determine that it is in the “best interests” of the child to be adopted by the person(s) seeking guardianship.

Single gay men and lesbians are becoming parents through adoption in 47 out of the 50 states.

According to information from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (see link under resources below), as of May 2007, there are four states that allow second -parent adoption by statute:  California, Colorado, Connecticut and Vermont.

In 21 states and the District of Columbia, trial or appellate courts have upheld or granted second-parent adoptions: District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington

Only three states have specifically outlawed second-parent adoptions: Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin

The law in the remainder of the states is neither specifically permissive nor prohibitive.

Current Virginia Law

Virginia law currently prohibits second-parent adoptions.

Virginia law does allow the names of second parents in legal adoptions in other states to be entered on the birth certificate of a child born in Virginia.

There is no Virginia law or policy prohibiting a single LGBT person from adopting a child; however, the willingness of Virginia courts to discriminate against LGBT biological parents in custody and visitation cases is cause for concern about how the “best interests” of the child standard will be applied by individual judges in adoption cases.

Toolkit

  • Meet with your state delegate and senator and explain the adverse impact on your family of the current Virginia law that makes it difficult to give your children the stability and legal protection they deserve. Find My Legislator
  • Prepare to oppose legislation that seeks to limit the rights of LGBT parents, and support legislation that expands parenting rights.
  • Share your story.  Tell It.

Resources

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 Disclaimer: Resource listings do not imply endorsement by Equality Virginia or any warranty of legal services. Additional service providers can be found on our legal resources page.
 
 
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