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Supreme Court upholds same-sex adoption rights

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2016 | Adoption |

It’s still been less than a year since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationally. The ruling came at the end of the Court’s term last June, in a case called Obergefell v. Hodges.

As important as it was, however, the Obergefell case did not settle all of the issues relating to same-sex relationships.

One of those issues was same-sex adoption. Last week, the Supreme Court overturned a state court ruling that had withheld parental rights to a lesbian mother who had broken up with the other mother. In this post, we will update you on this ruling and attempt to place it in cultural context.

Adoption as a cultural legacy

Adoption has a powerful place in Western culture. In ancient Rome, the adoption of boys among the upper classes was a common practice. It helped families to establish a male heir and strengthen alliances with other families.

The highest profile example of this was Augustus, the first Roman emperor. Augustus was not well known when he was adopted by Julius Caesar. In fact, he wasn’t even called Augustus; he was Gaius Octavius.

But eventually he took the name Augustus and became a pivotal historical figure. And it was adoption that originally opened up the possibility for his prominence and fame.

In New Testament times, adoption continued to an honored place. St. Paul referred it to in his epistles, referring to the many benefits it confers upon nonbiological children who join a family.

Supreme Court ruling

This honored role for adoption has never really gone away in Western culture. But including same-sex parents in its benefits is a very recent phenomenon.

In the case that the Supreme Court ruled on last week, a woman and her lesbian partner had three children that were the result of assisted reproductive technology. One woman was the biological mother, but her partner adopted the children. This was done with the full consent of the biological mother.

After 16 years together, however, the two women broke up. The biological mother then refused to let her ex-partner have access to the children. One of the children is now a 13-year-old. The other two are 11-year-old twins.

The adoption was in Georgia and was made official by a Georgia court. But when the two women split up, they were both living in Alabama. When a dispute about parental rights arose, the Alabama Supreme Court held that the Georgia court had erred in allowing the adoption.

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision.

Same-sex adoption in Ohio

If you are in a same-sex relationship in Ohio and children are involved, you may have many questions about your legal position.

In particular, a co-custody agreement may be in order to protect your interests. It is therefore important to get the knowledgeable legal counsel you need for your specific situation.