The American Academy of Pediatrics announced support for the rights of gay couples to adopt their partners’ biological children Monday. While this is certainly a great advancement for gay rights, it raises questions as to the legal status of the partners with children should there be a separation. Before allowing children to be adopted, gay partners should be given the right to legal marriage, which would include such an adoption right along with several others and would alleviate any potential legal problems.Second-child adoption by gay and lesbian partners will give children the opportunity to live in a two-parent household and alleviate many problems that arise in single-parent households. For instance, under the second-parent adoption, the child adopted would be eligible for health coverage and other benefits under the new parent’s plans.
However, without being legally married, how will courts regulate the legal rights of both the parents and the children should a separation occur? With only an adoption recognized as legal, the true parent of the child could find himself or herself in a long and confusing legal battle to strip his or her partner of those custody rights.
The solution to these problems lays in the awarding and recognition of gay rights. Gay and lesbian partners should be able to get married and enjoy all the benefits, be they legal or otherwise, of such a union. Under marriage, the couple would be eligible to adopt the other’s children. Legalizing gay marriages would also allow legal intervention should the relationship go awry. Legal divorce would allow the true parent of the children custody rights, thus solving a problem that would exist in the second-parent adoption situation.
While allowing such adoptions is a step in the right direction, it is not enough. Gay and lesbian partners should have equal rights, and making their marriage legal should have been the first step.