Second-Parent Adoption Marks 10th Anniversary

October 2012Articles Philadelphia Bar Reporter

Philadelphia has streamlined the process for gay couples to adopt since second-parent adoption was approved by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court 10 years ago. Tiffany Palmer, Richard Bost, Lisa Shapson and David Bourbon discussed the 10-year anniversary of second-parent adoptions at Sept. 10 Family Law Section meeting.

Second-parent adoption provides an important method to form a legal parentchild relationship, which confers rights and privileges including Social Security benefits, inheritance rights, child support entitlement and many others. Prior to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in In Re Adoption R.B.F. & C.H.F., 803 A.2d 1195 (Pa. 2002), statutory requirements for an adoption petition included termination of one biological parent’s rights. In the context of a second-parent adoption, where only one biological parent exists, this requirement was impossible to meet and prevented second-parent adoptions by gay couples. As such, many gay couples went to New Jersey, where second-parent adoptions were permitted. In 2002, Pennsylvania recognized the illogical impact of our adoption laws and permitted the gay couple involved In Re R.B.F. to successfully show cause why the relinquishment of the parental rights requirement would be otherwise fulfilled or unnecessary.

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