Adoption is when an adult legally obtains all parental rights and responsibilities to a child under the age of 19. In Alabama, there are certain requirements that must be met in order for an adult to adopt a child. For example, the adult must be healthy, and they must have the finances and housing to support the child. They also have to undergo a detailed background check that will look for a criminal history. If a married couple wants to adopt, then at least one of them has to be a United States citizen, and they have to be married for at least three years before adopting. This also, of course, requires the couple to be legally married. An adoption attorney in Birmingham can help answer your questions, but in general yes, a same sex couple can adopt like any other.
While Alabama statutory law does not recognize same sex marriages, same sex couples are allowed to adopt a child in Alabama as long as they meet the other eligibility requirements that were mentioned above. The Supreme Court of the United States made this possible when it formally recognized same sex marriage in its Obergefell v. Hodges decision. This decision made same sex marriage a fundamental right, which means same sex marriages are entitled to all of the rights and protections of marriages. The Supreme Court of the United States and federal law preempt any state law, which means that its decision will be the final law regardless of what state laws may say. Because of this, the Obergefell v. Hodges decision resulted in Alabama being required to acknowledge and allow same sex marriages, which means same sex couples are legally married, so they are able to satisfy the eligibility requirements in order to adopt a child.
As for discrimination against same sex adoptions in Montgomery, or anywhere else, Alabama’s statutory law that governs who is eligible to be an adoptive parent does not explicitly address or prohibit same sex adoptions. It simply states, in Section 26-10A-5 of the Alabama Code, that any adult or husband and wife are eligible to adopt a child. However, in 2017, the governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, signed a bill into law that does allow same sex couples to be discriminated against when it comes to adopting a child.
The law is known as the Alabama Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, and it can be found in Section 26-10D of the Alabama Code. It allows private adoption agencies that are primarily faith-based to prohibit same sex couples from adopting any of the children that are in agency care if it goes against the agency’s religious beliefs. It offers those private, faith-based agencies protection from the State to where their license cannot be withheld, and the State cannot penalize those agencies for their religious beliefs in any other way. But, this law does not apply to adoption agencies that are funded by either the state or federal government, so same sex couples can still pursue adoption through one of those agencies.
Adopting a child should be an exciting time for both parent and child. If you and your spouse are the same sex, it is important for you to consult with an attorney who is experienced with same sex adoptions. It is also recommended that you and your spouse research adoption agencies that are known for welcoming same sex adoptions. If you are thinking about pursing a same sex adoption, contact us today, and we will connect you with one of our experienced adoption attorneys in Jefferson County.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, probate, and real estate closings on this website. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply feedback. We appreciate our readers & love to hear from you!