BY BTL STAFF
LANSING – Michigan House Representative Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, introduced House Bill 4133 Jan. 29 that would allow second-parent adoption in the state of Michigan and would remove legal hurdles for unmarried couples who want to provide legal rights for themselves and their adopted children.
"Michigan's law preventing certain adoptees from realizing the full legal benefit of having two parents is damaging to these children, their parents and Michigan generally," Irwin said. "Indeed, the landmark DeBoer v Snyder marriage equality case started when two loving parents were barred from taking on their full legal responsibilities for their children. This is a historic embarrassment for Michigan, because our attorney general and governor are taking their fight to maintain discrimination all the way to the Supreme Court. We need to change Michigan's discriminatory laws to make our state a welcoming and prosperous place."
Second-parent adoption legally recognizes the relationship between a child and a parent. This recognition guarantees children a host of legal and financial benefits, such as health insurance, authorization for medical care and continuity of a parent-child relationship in the event of separation or death. Under current adoption law in Michigan, parental rights are restricted to either married couples or single individuals. The law bars joint adoptions by any two people who are not married to one another, including single parents wishing to adopt with other relatives or unmarried partners.
"Studies have shown the importance to children of maintaining a safe, loving home with two stable parents. House Bill 4133 will ensure that more children in Michigan can enjoy the benefits of two parents who share all of the rights and responsibilities of parenthood," Rep. Irwin said. "Extending parental obligations to both parents is a moral imperative because it gives more Michigan children the benefits of two legal parents and the assistance that two parents can provide in making medical decisions, providing emotional support and meeting financial obligations."
The process of second-parent adoption is not new to the state, which currently allows a step-parent to adopt a child of his or her current spouse, whether biological or adopted, without having the parent terminate their rights. This bill simply extends the provisions and protections of the step-parent adoption process to all families. Nothing is changed within the adoption process with the extension of these changes. Any adult wishing to become a second-parent or eligible foster parent will still have to go through the normal channels of screening.