Today marked the completion of my first same-sex step-parent adoption. Prior to May 2014, a same sex couple had to follow the steps for second-parent adoption which required a home study as opposed to a step-parent adoption which did not. However, in a decision rendered May 20, 2014, the Honorable John E. Jones, III, sitting for the US District Court in the Middle District on the case of Whitewood v. Michael Wolf, ruled that two of Pennsylvania’s laws regarding marriage were unconstitutional on the basis that they violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth amendment. Now that Pennsylvania recognizes same-sex marriages, same-sex partners can also benefit from the simpler process of a kinship or step-parent adoption.
The adoption hearings are the final confirmation that all requirements for an adoption have been met. The adopting parents should indicate during the hearing their understanding of the responsibility they are taking on as parents. A sample colloquy is included below. Hopefully, many newlywed same-sex couples in Pennsylvania will be able to take advantage of this easier path to adoption.
Do you understand if this Court permits the adoption, both you and this child will have all of the legal rights and duties between a parent and child that the law provides for natural born children? Do you understand, for example, these rights and duties include: (A) the right of the child to inherit through you and your family (B) your legal obligation to financially support this child (C) the right of the child to seek support from you (D) do you understand these rights and duties would continue if you and your spouse separate or divorce (E) do you understand these rights and duties would continue if the child develops any physical, psychological problems or becomes ill or disabled for any reason in the future