Second Parent Adoption
I don’t know how many people actually read this blog, but I follow quite a few people who live in England or other states that aren’t in the southeastern United States, like I am. If you haven’t been keeping up with the news, the Supreme Court (which is the governing God of the U.S. What they say goes. The End.) said that it was illegal for the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in states that allow for same-sex marriages. The states don’t have to perform or recognize, but the federal government does.
That sounds really confusing, and I’m not sure how this country functions sometimes, but there are five-ish different basic levels of government in the U.S. The first is city/county, which is the lowest. They create laws for their specific area, and then the state governments (or the next higher level) come in and overthrow them. We saw this recently in SC where the city of Greenville made a really strict no-cell phone law, and the the state came back and said, “Texting bad, talking OK.” The City of Greenville spent all this money to make anti-cell phone laws for all their signs and then immediately had to turn around and remove them all because the State Law made their city law invalid.
After the state law, there’s the appellate courts, which are over group of states, and then after that is the federal courts. What’s happening with marriage laws right now is that we have a bunch of states, all with their own laws that say “yes marriage equality or no marriage equality.” One by one, each someone has to challenge the state laws, and one by one the states are coming back saying that they’re unconstitutional, and one by one the states are moving up the ladder of appeals, wasting our money just to have the next level say that marriage is equality is the new black. Since last year, not a SINGLE court has upheld discrimination. Not. A. Single. One.
Recently, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (the one that is over South Carolina law, which is where I live) said that Virginia can’t deny same-sex couples the right to marry (which we expected them to say, but it was only for Virginia). What it means for South Carolina and all the other states in this area is that they have no leg to stand on when it comes to fighting the marriage laws in the state. They’re going to lose. North Carolina was smart and said, “Fine, we give up.” They decided to stop fighting the laws, which means NC is going to be a marriage equality state pretty quickly. South Carolina said, “WE’RE GOING TO FIGHT TO THE DEATH.”
They’re going to lose, I know this. It’s really obvious, but it’s really annoying still. They have NO ONE supporting them in their fight. The Circuit isn’t backing them, and the Supreme Court won’t either. EVERYONE KNOWS THIS.
What does that have to do with Erin and I?
Our lawyer said that while two-parent same-sex adoption isn’t illegal, there are no laws on record that saw that it has to be done. Since South Carolina is a fight-to-the-death-for-“traditional”-marriage state, Erin and I cannot legally get married here, and even if we were legally married in another state, we wouldn’t be recognized as married here.
The absolute least expensive adoption that can be done ANYWHERE (because, let’s be real, this isn’t cheap) after a foster-adopt is a non-Native American, birth father on board and living in the same state and county with no matching or agency involved adoption. This is what Erin and I have. It will still cost us around $8,000. (If you want the broken down process, I can give you the link to my adoption blog OR we can talk.)
If Erin and I were married and that marriage was legally recognized in the state of South Carolina, then this would be a one time deal. We’d pay for the adoption, and then we’d be set to go as two legally recognized parents. But since it’s not, our adoption will depend entirely on which judge we get whether we can adopt together or not.
What this means is that I’ll legally adopt OUR child and then we will find the money to go through this process AGAIN once the laws change but that we’ll have to get together a lot of legal paperwork and the like so that Erin can adopt at a later date or somewhere else where it is legal. It’ll be another couple thousand dollars when that happens. And it’s not just like this because we’re adopting: couples who have their children through artificial insemination have to pay legal fees for a second parent adoption, and again, it depends on the judge you get whether or not it will all be legal.
Until that point, if you don’t have paperwork on file saying you can make legal decisions for your child, you are playing a dangerous gamble. Schools, doctors, daycare facilities, etc may not talk to you, help you, or even seen you. How is that helping a child?
I don’t really care what the cost is. Erin and I always figure out money situations. We always have everything we need when we need it, but we seriously hope the laws change before February so that we don’t have to do this all over again.