Same-Sex Couples Looking to Adopt Could See Changes in Form Language
Earlier this month, Florida repealed its ban on adoption by same-sex couples. That’s never been illegal in Texas, but whether or not a same-sex couple can adopt a child has always come down to a judge’s opinion. But with the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges last month, judges in Texas can no longer discriminate based on a couple’s makeup.
“The most important standard when we look at children’s cases like adoption [is] what’s in the best interest of the child,” says Travis County family lawyer Ann Del Llano. That standard, she says, is the pillar of family law, and before the high court’s ruling, judges could say having same-sex parents was not in the best interest of a kid.
The Obergefell decision changed that by ruling that all legal rights given to opposite-sex married couples must now apply to same-sex married couples.
Judges in Texas can still deny parents’ request to adopt, but if a family’s looking to be labeled as 'Mom and Mom' or 'Dad and Dad' in adoption paperwork from the state, a judge can’t use those labels as reasoning in denying adoption on the basis of a child’s best interest.
Del Llano says one big change she’ll be watching for has to do with birth certificates.
In Texas, birth certificates only have spaces for a father and a mother as parents. The Texas Department of State Health Services says they’re reviewing the Supreme Court decision on marriage to see if birth certificates used in adoptions should be altered. Then there are death certificates, which also ask for the name of the deceased’s father and mother, as well.
At any rate, Del Llano says, there are plenty of ways that forms will be changing across the state as a result of the ruling.