As a same-sex parent myself, I could not have been happier with the Supreme Court’s March 7, 2016 decision in V.L. v. E.L., upholding a woman’s adoption of three children born to her same sex partner. By upholding this adoption, the Supreme Court made a definitive statement: all parents are equally important, and the rights of same-sex parents who raise children not naturally born to them will not be diminished.
In E.L. and V.L., two women were involved in a 16 year relationship from 1995-2011. With the help of reproductive technology, E.L. gave birth to a child in 2002 and twins in 2004. The two women raised the children together from birth, and obtained a “second parent adoption” in Georgia.
The parties never married or had a civil union and later separated, while living in Alabama. V.L. (the adoptive mom) moved out, and later filed a petition alleging that E.L. had denied her access to the children and interfered with her parental rights. V.L. asked Alabama to recognize the Georgia second parent adoption so that she could continue to jointly raise her children, as she had been doing their entire lives. E.L. (the biological mom) argued that the Georgia second parent adoption should not be recognized in Alabama and that if it is not recognized, V.L. has no parental rights.
The U.S. Supreme Court held that Alabama had to recognize Georgia’s second parent adoption, meaning that V.L. retained her parental rights and status of a parent to the parties’ three children. She is entitled to the same custody and parenting time rights as any parent. While the Court’s analysis focused on jurisdictional arguments, the important message is that legal adoption is to be honored in every state in our nation. Love creates a family, not DNA, and our nation values the ever-evolving definition of family.
If you have questions about adoption or any other family law issues, please feel free to call me.
Read the full opinion at: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/15-648_d18e.pdf
Aubrey J Parker, Family Law Attorney