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Could Same Sex Marriage Case Affect Same Sex Adoptions in Michigan?

Melissa Cox, Esq.

A Michigan same-sex couple, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, have been at the center of the recent news coverage on the upcoming United States Supreme Court case on same sex marriage. The Supreme Court heard arguments on the case last week.

DeBoer and Rowse are both nurses who have each separately adopted two children. The Michigan Adoption Code allows individuals or married couples to adopt but not two unmarried persons.  Effectively, the law does not permit same-sex couples to jointly adopt.

The couple originally did not expect to be leading the way on marriage equality. However, after a health scare with one of their sons and a near-miss on what could have been a deadly car accident, they started to look more closely into the state’s laws. The couple discovered that if one of them died, a judge could give the children to someone other than their partner.

That led to their challenge of Michigan’s marriage law.

An estimated 110,000 thousand children across the country live with gay parents. If the Supreme Court strikes down same-sex marriage prohibitions, then states like Michigan that currently ban same-sex marriage would almost certainly see an increase in adoptions by same sex spouses.

If such couples are allowed to legally marry after the Supreme Court’s decision, then, DeBoer and Rowse, for example, could jointly adopt their four children together through a stepparent adoption, whereby a child can be adopted by their legal parent’s spouse.

However, other types of adoption may not increase so easily, as efforts are already underway in Michigan and other states that would may preempt the Supreme Court’s impending decision on gay marriage. In particular, legislation was recently introduced that would allow an adoption agency to select who they service based on “sincerely held religious beliefs contained in a written policy” (of the adoption agency).

Thus, whatever the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage, it appears the debate over same-sex adoption will continue in the coming years.

If you have any questions about adoptions in Michigan or questions about the Michigan Adoption Code, don’t hesitate to contact Attorney Melissa Cox. The adoption process can be complex, and at Fausone Bohn, LLP we serve as strong client advocates. Contact our Metro Detroit Office today at 248-468-4536 or visit us online at www.fb-firm.com.



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