- September 3, 2014
This past week, we witnessed several advancements for same-sex couples with regard to adoption. Courts at varying levels from Europe to South America granted rulings that advanced rights for same-sex couples and their families.
The first positive news came from a gay couple in Switzerland who gained legal recognition as the parents of a child who was born to a surrogate mother in the U.S. Though surrogacy is illegal in Switzerland, the welfare of the child took precedence, according to the administrative court ruling in Canton. The court ruled that the genetic parentage of the child must be registered as part of the birth certificate, but they also recognized the two men as fathers of the child.
The trend continued in Italy, where a woman was allowed to adopt the biological child of her partner. This was the first case of a stepchild adoption involving a same-sex couple in Italy. Maria Antonia Pili, the lawyer for the case, based her argument on a clause in Article 44 of Italy’s adoption law of 1983, which states that “the best interest of the child in order to maintain the emotional relationship and cohabitation with the ‘social’ parent” should be prioritized. This will hopefully be the first of many adoptions, as stepchild adoption for same-sex couples is a part of a draft civil union bill that is expected to be made law soon.
Finally, in South America, Columbia’s Constitutional Court ruled that a lesbian woman could adopt her partner’s biological daughter. The couple, who have raised the daughter together for six years, sought greater legal recognition and protection as a family. Leiderman, the biological mother of the child, stated “We don’t need anyone’s permission to be a family, but we want to have that piece of paper.” This case does set a precedent for future cases and it will not apply to same-sex couples wishing to adopt if neither person is the child’s biological parent.
In the U.S., adoption rights still vary greatly from state to state, though an overwhelming majority -- 63 percent -- of Americans support the right for same-sex couples to legally adopt. HRC's All Children – All Families (ACAF) program has helped to open doors for LGBT adoptive parents by engaging adoption agencies in becoming welcoming and supportive of LGBT parents. The program also works to provide a framework for agencies to achieve safety, permanency and well-being by improving their practice with LGBT youth and families.