Hazel Park –
Committed parents April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, of Oakland County, filed a federal lawsuit Jan. 23 to overturn the state’s practice of preventing unmarried couples from jointly adopting children. The women are state-certified foster parents who are trying to jointly adopt three newborns that they began raising two years ago. They filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Detroit. Attorney General Bill Schuette and Gov. Rick Snyder were named as defendants because of their offices.
Michigan does not allow unmarried couples to adopt together, and since same-sex couples cannot marry in Michigan, they therefore cannot adopt as a couple. They can adopt, but only as single parents. DeBoer adopted their daughter; Rowse adopted their two sons. Rowse’s two boys, ages 2 and 3, were abandoned by their mothers. DeBoer adopted a 23-month-old girl who was surrendered by her biological mother. DeBoer, a neonatal intensive care nurse, and Rowse, an emergency room nurse, have been in a committed relationship for 10 years, the suit said.
“Children are at risk when two loving parents are prevented from jointly adopting them,” said Emily Dievendorf, director of policy at Equality Michigan. “Michigan has had ample time to commit to caring for our state’s children in the way that psychologists and social workers have always promoted – by ensuring that kids have two loving parents who have the resources to best support their family.”
The suit states there are major benefits for children to have two legal parents rather than one, including the right to have a parent if the first parent dies, the right to dependency benefits such as Social Security, workers compensation, pensions, insurance, and the right to have at least one parent available to make decisions if the other parent is unavailable or incapacitated.
Currently there are two bills working their way through the Michigan legislature that would allow for second-parent adoption. The Senate version (SB 167) was introduced by Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) and the House version (HB 4249) by Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor).
For further information on children and LGBT families, see the new 2011 report: All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families. Additional resources are available at http://www.children-matter.org.
Hazel Park –