27 April 2011

Adoption supporters battle Michigan officials on second-parent adoptions

Just weeks after the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned a same-sex adoption ban, the dispute over two-parent adoptions is becoming a growing concern for Michigan adoption agencies. Advocates for children in the foster care system argue that thousands of children are being denied permanent homes as a result.

Under a law established in 1935, only one person in state government can sign off on every adoption in the state. However there are some children who have two loving adult caretakers. Among some of those caretakers are a grand parent and aunt, or same-sex partners. Those cases of co-parenting are called “second parent adoptions” and the struggle to get them approved has been a rocky process for years.

The Michigan Department of Human Services is responsible for oversight over domestic infant adoptions and foster care programming in the state. The current director is a long-standing opponent of same-sex partners adopting children. The director asked MDHS spokesperson Gisgie Gendrau if the department had any plans to allow for second parent adoption.

“Michigan statute requires that, when there is a two-parent adoption, the parents must be married. Michigan does not recognize same-sex marriages. Single parent adoptions do not take into account the sexual orientation of the parent. This is a legislative issue, not a court nor a DHS issue,” Gendrau wrote in an e-mail.

The battle of two-parent adoptions have become a cause for concern for state adoption agencies. Adoption Associates Inc., an adoption agency in Grand Rapids, is one organization keeping a close eye on the topic.

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