When lesbian couples start families, one woman often begins with all the legal entitlements of parenthood, either by giving birth or by virtue of adopting a child, while the other woman has no legal rights. She is a non-legal parent. Absent legal rights she suffers many critical disadvantages. Second-parent adoptions have been developed to allow lesbians to create families with two-legal parents. They have been widely hailed as a solution to the problem of the non-legal parent. This article argues, however, that for many women they may actually make matters worse. Because some women can use second-parent adoptions, women who do not use them will be at a greater disadvantage. And the community of women who do not use second-parent adoptions may be marked by class, race and other circumstances of disadvantage. As such, second-parent adoptions must be viewed critically rather than as an uncomplicated good.
A Lesbian-centered Critique of Second-parent Adoptions, 14 BERKELEY WOMEN’S L.J. 17