Adoption and Parenting
Many LGBT and HIV-positive people have strong family bonds with their children, and many more would like to become parents. Countless children are in need of permanent homes and parent-child security. The refusal to recognize and honor children's relationships with their parents causes terrible trauma to children and parents alike, and can deprive children of stability and critically important emotional and financial support. Since the 1980s, Lambda Legal has represented LGBT and HIV-positive people who seek to secure rights for themselves and their children in parenting, custody and visitation, and to adopt children or become foster parents.
According to recent data, there are roughly 250,000 children in the United States being raised by same-sex couples. But the rights of LGBT parents vary widely among states. About half of all states permit second-parent adoptions by the unmarried partner of an existing legal parent, while in a handful of states courts have ruled these adoptions not permissible under state laws. This leaves parents in many states legally unrecognized or severely disadvantaged in court fights with ex-spouses, ex-partners or other relatives. Additionally, barriers exist in assisted reproduction and related medical care, and discrimination and irrational stereotypes and fears about sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV persist.
Lambda Legal's Impact
Legal victories that secure the legal ties between parents and children have a profound impact on the emotional and economic stability of LGBT and HIV-affected families. For example, we successfully challenged an Oklahoma law so extreme that it left children adopted by same-sex couples in other states orphans in the eyes of the law when their families moved to or traveled through Oklahoma. We are advocating through the courts and through public education that LGBT and HIV-positive parents must be treated equally under the law and that the best interests of children must always be observed.