Wednesday, August 19, 2009

North Carolina Court Upholds Second Parent Adoption, Setting Precedent for Same-Sex Parents

North Carolina's only out state Senator, Julia Boseman, had the adoption of her daughter upheld yesterday by the state's Court of appeals. Her daughter's biological mother, and Boseman's ex, Melissa Jarrell, tried to have her parental rights voided.

After four years together, Boseman and Jarrell decided to have a child, and Jarrell gave birth in 2002 to their daughter through insemination. The couple filed for second-parent adoption which was granted three years later. Common use of adoption statues usually terminates the biological mother's rights, but the court ruled it had the power to waive this, granting both mothers full parental rights.

The following year, the couple broke up. After Jarrell began limiting her access to her daughter, Boseman filed for joint custody. Jarrell objected saying Boseman's adoption should be void because, though North Carolina doesn't say gays and lesbians couldn't adopt, it doesn't say they can.

A three-judge panel of the court disagreed in their decision.

"While [state law] does not specifically address same-sex adoptions, these statutes do make clear that a wide range of adoptions are contemplated and permitted, so long as they protect the minor’s 'needs, interests, and rights,'" Judge Wanda Bryant wrote in the opinion.

The News & Observer reports, "State law governing adoption does not specifically mention adoption by same-sex couples. Jim Lea, a domestic law specialist in Wilmington and one of Boseman's attorneys said that such adoptions have already been occurring. But the court opinion affirms the right of gay and lesbian couples to adopt."

"'Now I think it's very clear that if a couple chooses to go out and adopt the child and execute the necessary waivers, that homosexual couples can adopt children,' Lea said. 'To say that a couple should not be able to adopt a child because they're gay, on that reason alone is just plain wrong.'"

This is the second bit of good news this week coming from North Carolina. Just this past Monday, the city council of Durham passed a non-binding resolution in support of marriage equality.

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