One of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of my practice is assisting clients in building a family through adoption. The most common adoption scenario handled by our Firm is the same-sex couple who has become pregnant and wishes to establish a legal parent-child relationship between the child and the non-birth parent.
I am often asked in this situation whether same-sex couples who are legally married in Massachusetts still need to go through the legal adoption process in order to make the non-birth parent the second legal parent of the child. In Massachusetts, a child who is born during a marriage is presumed to be the legal child of that marriage. In states like Massachusetts, it is even common to see both married same-sex partners listed on the child's birth certificate as "co-parents".
Obviously, for those same-sex parents who were not married at the time of birth, a petition for co-parent adoption is the only way to establish a legal parent-child relationship between the child and the non-birth parent. But there are a number of reasons why even married same-sex parents should consider the co-parent adoption process.
First, a co-parent adoption will irrevocably terminate the rights of the biological father of the child. Whether your donor was anonymous or a close friend/family member, there is peace-of-mind and security in knowing that a motivated father will not be allowed to interfere with your family years later.
Second, a co-parent adoption will create a legal and universally recognized parent-child relationship by way of a court judgment. While Massachusetts recognizes the validity of both same-sex marriages and the parent-child relationship of children born during that marriage, it should be expected that other states (and federal government) will be downright hostile to your relationship and any rights you claim through that relationship. Unlike your marriage license, a judgment for adoption will be recognized by all 50 states and the federal government.
For LBGT families, the benefits and security provided by co-parent adoption cannot be overstated, and you can get started together as a couple the moment you decide to become pregnant. It is never too early to speak with a lawyer, and for those couples who gave birth before the change in marriage law, it may not be too late!