One of my favorite tasks as a lawyer is to facilitate the adoption process for my same-sex clients. While I have handled a wide variety of scenarios, the most common in my own law practice is when one partner is the biological mother and the other partner wishes to become the second legal parent. In some cases, the child is conceived by alternative insemination and the donor is anonymous. The parental rights of the donor parent are terminated at the time of donation.
In another common scenario, the biological mother conceives via alternative insemination and the donor is a close friend of the couple. In those cases, the parental rights of the donor are not terminated on donation and must later be terminated by the Probate Court in a separate proceeding.
I am often asked how a same-sex couple who are NOT residents of Connecticut can facilitate a co-parent or step-parent adoption. Much as I hate to give this answer, the Probate Courts in Connecticut do NOT have jurisdiction over adoptions by non-residents. The answer, then, is that there is a Connecticut residency requirement.
Another popular question is whether it is necessary for a same-sex couple who have entered into a valid civil union or marriage in Connecticut — who conceive AFTER that legal union — to go through the adoption process in order to make the non-biological parent the second legal parent. Under Connecticut law, a child born during a marriage (or civil union) is presumed to be a child of that marriage (or civil union). The names of both parents should appear on the child’s birth certificate.
However, it is critically important to remember that not all 50 states recognize same-sex marriages (or civil unions). Unless and until same-sex unions are recognized nationally, it is prudent to petition the Probate Court for a second-parent adoption. According to GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders), [a]doption is a court judgment creating a parent-child relationship and should be respected by other states, even if those states are otherwise hostile to same-sex couples or parenting. For more information, please see Adoption Questions & Answers (published by GLAD).