When a gay couple in Texas was denied the ability to place their names on their newborn children's birth certificates, the news story went viral. Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs, whose twin boys were born through a gestational surrogate, are each the biological father of one of the babies. However, neither of their names is listed on the boys' birth certificates, nor were they allowed to proceed with their second-parent adoption. Their petition to remove the surrogate's name from the birth certificate, place their names on the birth certificates, and adopt each other's biological child was denied. The surrogate, who has no biological ties to the children as the couple used an egg donor, is the only name on each birth certificate. Texas's ban on same-sex marriage was cited as the reason for the decision. Although ruled unconstitutional last February, the decision was stayed pending appeal and judges can use their discretion in these cases. Texas law requires a second-parent adoption to be between two legally married people. Although Hanna and Riggs were legally married in Washington D.C., the state of Texas does not recognize their marriage and denied their petition for a second-parent adoption. According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Texas and 17 other states have "unclear" laws regarding LGBT adoption and allow judges to have discretion to decide if LGBT parents can adopt. Regardless of Texas' stance on same-sex marriage, it is unclear as to why the judge denied the petitions for each father to be listed on his biological child's birth certificate.
Indiana is one of the few states that explicitly authorize same sex couples to petition for second-parent adoptions. Along with California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and the District of Columbia, Indiana recognizes second-parent adoptions for same-sex couples through precedent-setting rulings at the state court level. Connecticut, Colorado, and Vermont allow second-parent adoptions by statute. Indiana law also does not prohibit individuals from adoption based on their sexual orientation. Therefore, LGBT individuals may petition to adopt, and same-sex couples may jointly petition to adopt.
The attorneys at Harden Jackson have a great deal of experience helping couples in their family building journey, in addition to assisting clients in all areas of family law, adoption, and reproductive law matters. For more information, please contact our office at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.
Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.
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