Reflecting on the adoption highlights of 2015, I found that two events created fitting bookends to the year in adoption: the historic Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage; and the power of one of the most old fashioned methods for creating an adoptive family, reaching out to friends and family.
In the Supreme Court decision, Justice Kennedy paid particular attention to the impact of state laws which prevented same-sex couples like many of my clients from marrying and obtaining equal parentage rights and responsibilities: “Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples.”
The ruling requires all states to allow same-sex partners to marry, adopt a child together, and appear on their child’s birth certificate as parents. For same-sex couples, that means the right to full legal recognition as parents.
Like the Supreme Court’s embrace of 21st century realities, almost all of my clients seeking to adopt a baby use the Internet to connect with birth mothers. The prospective adoptive parents create a website and advertise their desire to adopt online. Pregnant women who are considering adoption review the websites, contact and interview prospective adoptive parents, and choose an adoptive family for their child. In contrast, Stephanie and David, caring prospective adoptive parents I represented, seamlessly employed a 20th century method to adopt a child, connecting with those close to them. Lisa, a wonderful young woman who had been a baby sitter for their older adoptive child, reached out to Stephanie and David when she faced an unplanned pregnancy. They created a consummate open adoption together – Stephanie even promising Lisa that she would always be Mom Lisa to their daughter. I had the privilege of finalizing this beautiful adoption before the New York court in December.
The bookend adoption highlights of 2015, one ground-breaking, one simultaneously old fashioned and winning, made this a memorable year.