Why LGBTQ married legal parents also adopt their children

New Jersey has often been early and strong in protecting the rights of LGBTQ families. The state recognized same-sex marriage rights two years before the U.S. Supreme Court extended them everywhere in the country with its Obergefell v. Hodges decision. In some ways, New Jersey’s same-sex parenting laws are also more progressive than those of most other states.

New Jersey residents should be mindful that rights secure in the Garden State may be questioned when you travel or move to other states. It may seem bizarre to adopt your own child, but attorneys are urging non-biologicals parents to consider adopting their children, even if they’re married and listed as a parent on the child’s birth certificate.

Almost anywhere in the United States a woman gives birth, her legal husband, if any, is by default the child’s legal father. Any other legal standing for him or anyone else typically needs to happen in court. New Jersey has clarified parents’ rights for many same-sex female married couples.

The state extends the presumption of legal parentage to the mother’s non-biological partner in the case of medically supervised artificial insemination with donor sperm. Each spouse is listed in one of the two “parent” fields on the birth certificate.

It’s up to other states to decide whether they recognize forms and certificates from other states, including New Jersey birth certificates. When traveling to such states, you potentially might find yourself no longer the parent of your child in the eyes of local authorities, for example if the birth mother is hurt in an accident. Leaving the state with your child or visiting the child in the hospital would be up to them. A court battle could be your next option.

Forms are one thing, but court orders are another. Article IV of the U.S. Constitution clearly requires each state to recognize a court order from New Jersey, even if it would not have been issued in the state you’re passing through.

For this reason, attorneys are cautioning same-sex parents to consider adopting your own non-biological children, if you’re married and both your names are on the birth certificate. The stakes in the difficult situations you may encounter in another state, or even in this era of political turbulence, argue for multiple layers of protections for your rights and those of your children.