ACLU challenges NC laws governing adoptions by gay couples

posted on Thu, Jun 14 2012 9:37 am by Matthew Bishop

Second parent adoption protects and strengthens families with gay and lesbian parents.Adoption laws in North Carolina need to be changed! All children deserve strong, secure ties to the parents who love and care for them. Adoption and parenting are about creating loving, stable homes and about creating the opportunities for children to thrive and succeed. Parenting law should be based on the best interests of children awaiting adoption into forever homes. This is sadly not the case.

Read the following story from the Salisbury Post to see how the ACLU is challenging these laws today in North Carolina: 

A civil liberties group sued North Carolina today to change state adoption laws that they argue unconstitutionally prevent unmarried couples from adopting their partners' children.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed the lawsuit in federal court in Greensboro on behalf of six North Carolina same-sex couples who support so-called second parent adoptions.

ACLU legal director Chris Brook said North Carolina's highest court in 2010 banned second parent adoptions for unmarried couples, whether straight or gay. That ruling prevents those couples from jointly adopting children.

But the ACLU lawsuit focused on same-sex couples.

It said second parent adoptions are the only way a North Carolina family with gay or lesbian parents can ensure that both parents have a legal relationship with their child.

"Children who are prevented from having such a legally recognized relationship with both parents suffer numerous deprivations as a result, including exclusion from private health insurance benefits, public health benefits, veterans' benefits, disability benefits and social security benefits," the lawsuit said.

They also face uncertain futures about their ability to continue their relationship with their second parent if something should happen to their legal one, Brook said.

"We think that there should be a uniform policy for conducting adoptions in the state of North Carolina that focus entirely on the best interest of the child," he said.

The lawsuit names three state judges as defendants, including John W. Smith, director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts. It said Smith is responsible for "promulgating rules, policies and procedures to control or advise N.C. clerks of county courts who apply the state's adoption laws when considering whether to accept or reject petitions for adoptions."

N.C. Administrative Office of Courts spokeswoman Sharon Gladwell said her agency doesn't comment on issues when litigation is pending.

"This is the first that we have heard of it. The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts has not yet been served with this lawsuit, nor has NCAOC been involved in any conversations regarding this matter," she said.

The lawsuit said there's no basis for North Carolina to "automatically and categorically to reject any petition for second parent adoption by gay or lesbian parents."

While many other states grant second parent adoptions in cases when they are in a child's best interest, North Carolina's laws as "authoritatively construed" by the state's high court do not, the lawsuit said. . . .

> Read the full article via the Salisbury Post

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