While it’s becoming more common for LGBTQ and same-sex couples to have children, there’s still an incredible legal labyrinth these families face–more than heterosexual couples. Depending on where you live, becoming a parent in a same-sex couple may be almost impossible, especially depending on your income and your threshold for dealing bureaucratic and legal nonsense.
The New York Times recently ran a feature on what LGBTQ parents go through–and it’s not pretty. For instance, Cathy Sakimura, deputy director and family law director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told them:
“There are very different laws from state to state in terms of how parents are protected, especially if they’re unmarried. You can be completely respected and protected as a family in one state and be a complete legal stranger to your children in another. To know that you could drive into another state and not be considered a parent anymore, that’s a pretty terrifying situation.”
As the article pointed out, different states have different laws, which can be extremely confusing if you’re in a partnership that faces discrimination in the place you live. For instance, NY Times states, “some states, like Maryland and Massachusetts, adoption agencies are expressly prohibited from discriminating based on sexual orientation.” But other states, like South Dakota, “have laws that create religious exemptions for adoption providers, allowing agencies to refuse to place children in circumstances that violate the groups’ religious beliefs.”
State senator in South Dakota, Alan Solano, made a statement avoiding why the legislation allows discrimination:
“I wanted to ensure that we have the greatest number of providers that are working on placing children. I’m not coming out and saying that somebody in the L.G.B.T. community should not be eligible for getting a child placed with them. What I hope is that we have organizations out there that are ready and willing to assist them in doing these adoptions.”
It doesn’t take an expert or genius to understand that limiting the homes children can be placed in doesn’t help the kids at all–if anything, it just forces them to stay in a system that they shouldn’t be in, rather than finding them a loving home. This sentiment was echoed by Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal:
“There is a very serious hurt caused when you’re told, ‘No, we don’t serve your kind here,’ and I think that gets lost in the public discourse a lot. There’s just this narrative that absolutely ignores, and almost dehumanizes, L.G.B.T. people. They’re missing from the equation here.”
The sad thing, being in a progressive state doesn’t necessarily always mean easy riding either. For instance, the article mentions Alice Eisenberg and Anna Wolk, who live in Brooklyn, had a daughter together. They married before their daughter was born (Eisenberg carried the child), and yet, they’re in the midst of in a second-parent adoption, in order to get Wolk seen as the other parent. Apparently, “a social worker must do a home visit with the couple. The whole process will cost them about $4,000, they said, and could take a year to complete.”
The silver lining is the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled that an adoption in one state must be honored in another. Of course, what doesn’t help is the political climate post-Trump. Right now, the LGBTQ community fears their rights may be taken away at any moment–which is not unwarranted, considering Trump administration repealed an Obama-era policy that protected the rights of transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.