Adoption Options for Same-Sex Couples in Florida

“Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love.” – Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Awards acceptance speech in 2016 reminded a world devastated by the tragic mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida of the healing power of love.  His sonnet paid homage to the idea that all people deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from violence, and protected against discrimination, regardless of their sexual orientation.

June is Pride Month.  It is a time to reflect on the fight for justice, safety, and equality for members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community.  For many in this community, the ability to adopt children with dignity and protections is the highest form of equality and inclusion.  

At Sara Horowitz PA,  we believe that whenever possible, you should be empowered to make decisions about your family’s current needs and future ones.  Armed with insight, you can be in a position to make an informed decision that serves your family’s best interests.  

What Roe v. Wade’s end could mean for LGBT rights 

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.  After Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022, legal scholars worry marriage equality is next.  The Roe decision could affect the framework of same-sex marriage as well as adoption rights.

The Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative supermajority.  In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, an opinion that struck down Roe v. Wade, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that “the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.”  This is where the connection between abortion and same-sex marriage arises — neither is concretely outlined as a right within the Constitution. 

Roe, which protected access to abortion for nearly 50 years, served as a warning shot for marriage equality, which received nationwide protection less than a decade ago.  

In his concurring opinion overturning Roe, Justice Clarence Thomas said other cases should be revisited, including the one that made same-sex marriage legal.  Justice Thomas expressly called for the court to reconsider its rulings striking down state prohibitions on same-sex marriage.  “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including GriswoldLawrence, and Obergefell,” Thomas wrote, referring to decisions on contraception, sodomy, and same-sex marriage, respectively.

Members of the LGBT community should speak with an adoption attorney well-versed in this field, especially for those same-sex couples wondering how best to protect their families if the Supreme Court reverses course regarding marriage equality and gay and lesbian parental rights.  Our Florida adoption law firm is here to offer comprehensive guidance and counsel to help you navigate the process.

Second-parent adoptions 

It is recommended, although by no means required, that same-sex married couples do a second-parent adoption, in the event same-sex marriage is ever found to be invalid.  This offers full legal and custodial parental rights. One of the most important steps gay and lesbian couples can take to solidify the parental rights of non-biological parents is a second-parent adoption.  

Second-parent adoptions refer to the non-biological parent of a child being raised together with the child’s biological parent.  Frequently perceived as the most effective way to seal a non-biological parent’s rights, these adoptions are for unmarried couples — or in the event same-sex marriage is overturned.  A second-parent adoption in Florida is a legal proceeding that allows an unmarried person to adopt their partner’s child. 

Through second-parent adoption, the current legal parent and their partner become joint parents of the child — legally, it will be as if the child was born to both of them.  A second-parent adoption allows a second parent to adopt a child without the “first parent” losing any parental rights.  In this way, the child comes to have two legal parents.  It also typically grants adoptive parents the same rights as biological parents in custody and timesharing matters.  

Once same-sex marriage became legal, second-parent adoptions were somewhat obsolete.  However, with the end of Roe v. Wade and the fact that same-sex marriages are not recognized in many countries, it is recommended same-sex couples in Florida continue to use second-parent adoption as the safest, most secure route for their children to have two legal parents.

Sara Horowitz PA

Providing sound legal guidance on adoption law for all Florida residents is our North Star.  We are proud to offer support, comfort, and experienced legal representation in family law matters.  Book a free, confidential case evaluation with Sara Horowitz PA to discuss options for you and your family. 

We have been handling second-parent, stepparent, relative, adult, and foster parent adoptions for over a decade in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Whether you are just beginning your journey or you need to take the final steps to legally complete an adoption, we take pride in always being available to our clients.  Contact us to schedule a telephone, virtual, or in-person consultation.