A recent decision by the Alabama Supreme Court puts the future of adopted children into question. A lesbian woman, adoptive mother of three, was shocked Friday when the Court refused to recognize her status as parent.
The case involves a lesbian couple with three children (names are confidential). During their relationship, the women decided to have three children using a sperm donor. All three are biological offspring of one of the women. Her partner adopted the kids in 2007, making both women legal parents.
When the couple split up, the biological mom left her home in Georgia and moved to Alabama, where she tried to keep the other parent away from the kids. In the legal battle that followed, the Alabama Supreme Court decided not to recognize the adoptions and stripped the adoptive parent of her rights to see the children.
“The Alabama Supreme Court’s refusal to recognize an adoption granted eight years ago harms not only these children, but all children with adoptive parents,” says lesbian rights activist Cathy Sakimura. “Children who are adopted must be able to count on their adoptions being final—allowing an adoption to be found invalid years later because there may have been a legal error in the adoption puts all adopted children at risk of losing their forever families.”
The Alabama Court decided that the state of Georgia acted in the best interest of the children, but did not follow its own laws regarding gay and lesbian adoptions. The Court issued the following statement:
“Although the Alabama Supreme Court recognized that full faith and credit prohibits a state from inquiring into the laws applied by a court from another state, it ruled that Alabama did not have to respect the Georgia court’s adoption because the Court believed that Georgia law did not allow same-sex parents to adopt.”
Justice Tom Parker, one of the concurring justices in the Alabama Court’s decision, wrote the following: “the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has held that a state has a legitimate interest in encouraging a stable and nurturing environment for an adopted child by encouraging that the child be raised in the optimal family structure with both a father and a mother.”