Like many of New York's same-sex couples, you may not be interested in marriage. You and your partner may not feel you need a piece of paper to be a family. However, you may not feel that your family is complete without a child or two. The two of you may decide to adopt, but you may also decide that one of you will serve as the biological parent of your child.
After the birth or adoption, you each provide care, love and support to the child. You are his or her parents. Unfortunately, the sad fact of the matter is that only one of you has legal parental rights unless the non-biological parent adopts the child. Under these circumstances, you may consider a second-parent adoption.
Circumstances necessitating a second-parent adoption
If you and your partner are unmarried and want to ensure that both of you have legal parental rights, you may consider a second-parent adoption. The most common scenarios for an unmarried same-sex couple that necessitates this type of adoption include the following:
- If one of you obtained reproductive assistance to be the biological parent of the child
- If one of you adopted a child prior to your relationship
- If you wanted to adopt during your relationship and only one of you could complete the adoption
If one of you is the biological parent of the child, it may be necessary to terminate the parental rights of the other biological parent before the adoption can proceed. Even in adoptions, there could be a parent out there who still retains parental rights. This issue will require research and resolution before proceeding with a second-parent adoption.
Second-parent adoptions closely resemble stepparent adoptions
The process of second-parent adoptions proceeds much as a stepparent adoption. As a result, the adopting parent will more than likely need to go through a drug and alcohol screening, a criminal background check and a home study. You must agree to take on the financial responsibilities of a parent along with the legal responsibilities. Of course, you also receive all of the rights of a legal parent.
If the child is age 14 or older, the state of New York allows the child to challenge the adoption, so it may be a good idea to make sure the child wants the adoption to proceed. It may also be a good idea to ensure that the other legal parent will not challenge it either. These matters can quickly become complex, so it may be to your advantage to make use of the legal resources in your area.