Since the 2015 United States Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, states can no longer legally ban gay couples from marrying. Since this landmark decision, same-sex couples across the country are marrying and beginning their lives as legal spouses. Many same-sex couples also wish to start a family of their own. Same-sex couples can sometimes face complicated legal obstacles when children are involved. Fortunately, there are several legal avenues that Illinois residents can use to obtain parental rights. One of these is second parent adoption, also called co-parent adoption. Second parent adoption can allow same-sex couples to legally adopt a child into their family.
Second Parent Adoption Differs from Other Types of Adoptions
When most people think of adoption, they imagine a situation in which a parent gives up his or her parental rights and another individual takes on those parental rights. In a same-sex situation, things are often much different. It is not uncommon, for example, for one of the partners to be the only legal parent that the child has. That parent may have adopted the child originally or had the child without another parent involved, such as through a sperm bank or surrogacy. Through a second-parent adoption, the parent’s partner can become the child’s other legal parent.
Benefits of Second Parent Adoption
There are many reasons an individual would want to adopt their same-sex partner’s child. One benefit is the legal right to make healthcare decisions for the child. For example, if an injury or illness leaves a parent or child incapacitated in some way, only legally-recognized parents will have full authority over health care decisions. Even if someone has been acting as a parent in a child’s life for a long time, without a legally-recognized relationship, they may not have any legal rights to the child. This means that if the legal parent passes away or becomes incapacitated, the child may not be able to stay with the parent’s spouse. In the past, children have been actually removed from their home in circumstances like these due to the lack of the other spouse’s legal parentage....