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AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS

Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health

Coparent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents

ABSTRACT. Children who are born to or adopted by 1 guide the courts in providing necessary protection
member of a same-sex couple deserve the security of 2 for children through coparent adoption.
legally recognized parents. Therefore, the American Coparent or second-parent adoption protects the
Academy of Pediatrics supports legislative and legal ef- child’s right to maintain continuing relationships
forts to provide the possibility of adoption of the child with both parents. The legal sanction provided by
by the second parent or coparent in these families.
coparent adoption accomplishes the following:

C
hildren deserve to know that their relation- 1. Guarantees that the second parent’s custody
ships with both of their parents are stable and rights and responsibilities will be protected if the
legally recognized. This applies to all chil- first parent were to die or become incapacitated.
dren, whether their parents are of the same or oppo- Moreover, second-parent adoption protects the
site sex. The American Academy of Pediatrics recog- child’s legal right of relationships with both par-
nizes that a considerable body of professional ents. In the absence of coparent adoption, mem-
literature provides evidence that children with par- bers of the family of the legal parent, should he
ents who are homosexual can have the same advan- or she become incapacitated, might successfully
tages and the same expectations for health, adjust- challenge the surviving coparent’s rights to con-
ment, and development as can children whose tinue to parent the child, thus causing the child to
parents are heterosexual.1–9 When 2 adults partici- lose both parents.
pate in parenting a child, they and the child deserve 2. Protects the second parent’s rights to custody and
the serenity that comes with legal recognition. visitation if the couple separates. Likewise, the
Children born or adopted into families headed by child’s right to maintain relationships with both
partners who are of the same sex usually have only 1 parents after separation, viewed as important to a
biologic or adoptive legal parent. The other partner positive outcome in separation or divorce of het-
in a parental role is called the “coparent” or “second erosexual parents, would be protected for families
parent.” Because these families and children need the with gay or lesbian parents.
permanence and security that are provided by hav- 3. Establishes the requirement for child support
ing 2 fully sanctioned and legally defined parents, from both parents in the event of the parents’
the Academy supports the legal adoption of children separation.
by coparents or second parents. Denying legal parent 4. Ensures the child’s eligibility for health benefits
status through adoption to coparents or second par- from both parents.
ents prevents these children from enjoying the psy- 5. Provides legal grounds for either parent to pro-
chologic and legal security that comes from having 2 vide consent for medical care and to make educa-
willing, capable, and loving parents. tion, health care, and other important decisions on
Several states have considered or enacted legisla- behalf of the child.
tion sanctioning second-parent adoption by partners 6. Creates the basis for financial security for children
of the same sex. In addition, legislative initiatives in the event of the death of either parent by en-
assuring legal status equivalent to marriage for gay suring eligibility to all appropriate entitlements,
and lesbian partners, such as the law approving civil such as Social Security survivors benefits.
unions in Vermont, can also attend to providing
security and permanence for the children of those On the basis of the acknowledged desirability that
partnerships. children have and maintain a continuing relationship
Many states have not yet considered legislative with 2 loving and supportive parents, the Academy
actions to ensure the security of children whose par- recommends that pediatricians do the following:
ents are gay or lesbian. Rather, adoption has been
decided by probate or family courts on a case-by- • Be familiar with professional literature regarding
case basis. Case precedent is limited. It is important gay and lesbian parents and their children.
that a broad ethical mandate exist nationally that will • Support the right of every child and family to the
financial, psychologic, and legal security that re-
sults from having legally recognized parents who
The recommendations in this statement do not indicate an exclusive course are committed to each other and to the welfare of
of treatment or serve as a standard of medical care. Variations, taking into
account individual circumstances, may be appropriate.
their children.
PEDIATRICS (ISSN 0031 4005). Copyright © 2002 by the American Acad- • Advocate for initiatives that establish permanency
emy of Pediatrics. through coparent or second-parent adoption for

PEDIATRICS Vol. 109 No. 2 February 2002 339


children of same-sex partners through the judicial Staff
system, legislation, and community education. Karen Smith

Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and


Family Health, 2000 –2001 REFERENCES
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George J. Cohen, MD coparent or second-parent adoption by same-sex parents. Pediatrics.
Ellen C. Perrin, MD 2002;109:341–344

340 COPARENT OR SECOND-PARENT ADOPTION BY SAME-SEX PARENTS