LGBT Adoption FAQs
Can GLBT individuals and couples adopt children in Indiana?
Yes. Indiana law does not prohibit individuals from adopting based on their sexual orientation. Although legislation is occasionally introduced to prohibit gays and lesbians from adopting, no such laws have been passed to date. Gay men and lesbians regularly provide loving adoptive homes to children in need in Indiana.
In a 2006 adoption case involving a same-sex couple, the Indiana Court of Appeals issued a decision allowing unmarried couples to jointly adopt a child. An unmarried couple wishing to add to their family through adoption can now adopt a child together in the same adoption proceeding.
Can I adopt my partner’s child and be the legal second parent?
Yes. Indiana currently permits second parent adoptions by same-sex domestic partners. Following decisions from the Indiana Court of Appeals in 2003 and 2004, domestic partners are permitted to adopt their partner’s children.
If I adopt my partner’s child, will my partner’s parental rights be terminated?
No. Second parent adoption creates a legal parental relationship between the child and the second parent without interfering with the legal relationship between the child and first parent. When the second parent adoption is finalized, the child has the security of having two legal parents instead of only one legal parent.
Are second parent adoptions treated like traditional step-parent adoptions?
While the law is now clear and these cases should be handled no differently than typical step-parent adoptions, the road to adoption is not without its potential bumps. And some bumps can be very serious. Parents should have an attorney experienced in these particular cases because the adoption court retains considerable discretion to grant or deny these adoptions based on the evidence presented. A court concerned about the parents’ sexual orientation, and thus inclined to deny an adoption for that reason, may need to be persuaded that the adoption is in the child’s best interests.
An attorney experienced in second parent adoptions for lesbian and gay couples can help select a home study agency knowledgeable in dealing with, and friendly toward, same-sex couples. A positive home study is an important part of an adoption. Also, in cases where there is a concern that the court will have issues with the parents' sexual orientation, parents should make sure their attorney is familiar with evidence on sexual orientation and child rearing. A number of scientific resources are available demonstrating that sexual orientation has no affect on one's ability to be a good parent, nor does a parent's sexual orientation impact a child's well being. Such evidence should not be necessary, but it’s best to be well prepared.
What happens when same-sex couples raise children together without a second parent adoption?
Even though families where only one parent is a legal parent can function quite well, there is significant risk to the children. If the second parent should die unexpectedly, the children have no automatic right of inheritance and currently are not entitled to Social Security survivor benefits. If the adults’ relationship ends, the children may not be entitled to financial support from the second parent or risk having their relationship with their second parent terminated entirely. Obtaining a second parent adoption can eliminate these risks and provide much needed security for the children involved.
Contact Lemieux Law for more information on LGBT adoption or to schedule an appointment.