Legal and other services for same sex adopting couples.
Rhode Island Adoptions
Greenwood & Fink (G & F) is a law firm with a significant adoption practice. We work with both same-sex and heterosexual couples. Families may be having their own birth child with the assistance of a known or unknown sperm donor, contracting with a surrogate and/or egg donor or undergoing a second parent or stepparent adoption.
Families who adopt in Rhode Island receive a decree from the Rhode Island Family Court listing both partners as parents. For same sex couples who either give birth or whose surrogate gives birth in Rhode Island, the State of Rhode Island will issue a birth certificate that lists "parents" rather than "mother and father."
G & F will provide all the legal services necessary to complete your adoption. We work with sperm banks, fertilization specialists, biological parents and their attorneys to terminate any outstanding parental rights. We can prepare sperm or egg donor contracts and surrogacy agreements. Finally we will discuss larger family planning issues for same sex couples, such as parenting agreements and estate planning.
Here is how it all started: Story of the First Same Sex Couple (Lesbian) Adoption in Rhode Island (1993).
Please note that the RI Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law. The court does not license or certify any lawyer as an expert or specialist in any field of practice.
Finstuen v. Crutcher, 496 F.3d 1139 (Fed. 10th Cir. 2007)
In this opinion from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court heard an appeal filed by three same-sex couples whose adopted children were born in Oklahoma. The couples sought to challenge the Oklahoma adoption statute after the state Department of Health refused to amend the children’s birth certificates to include both parents.
The statute stated that Oklahoma would recognize adoptions granted in other states or foreign countries, “Except that, this state, any of its agencies, or any court of this state shall not recognize an adoption by more than one individual of the same sex from any other state or foreign jurisdiction.” Okla. Stat. tit. 10, sec. 7502-1.4.
Dissatisfied with the district court’s decision in support of the parents, the Oklahoma Commissioner of Health appealed the judgment rejecting the state law. After examining whether each of the three couples had the legal ability to file the claim (standing), the Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Oklahoma statute violated the Full Faith and Credit clause of the United States Constitution. It agreed that a state law categorically barring recognition of adoptions by same sex couples already finalized in another state is unconstitutional.
As a result of Finstuen, all states, regardless of their public policy, must include both members of the same sex couple on the birth certificate following a legal adoption. Not all states, however, list the parent in a neutral manner. Florida, for example, lists the second parent on the reverse side of the birth certificate.
In re Jeramie N., 688 A.2d 825 (RI 1997)
This case concerned a child who became orphaned when his parents were killed in an automobile accident. Although Jeramie’s grandparents became temporary guardians through Probate Court, his aunt and uncle, residents of Maine, filed an adoption petition. The Rhode Island Supreme Court addressed four questions certified from the Family Court questioning whether the RI adoption statute violated the Equal Protection and Substantive Due Process Clauses of the United States and Rhode Island Constitutions. At issue was the distinction between residents and non-residents’ ability to adopt a child residing in Rhode Island. A resident can adopt “any child” in Rhode Island, whereas non-residents can only adopt a child that is in the care of a RI licensed child-placing agency.
The Court analyzed the public policy supporting the resident/non-resident distinction. Essentially, the residency requirement precludes a “baby market” situation in which biological parents could bring their child to Rhode Island in order to have the child adopted by the highest bidder.
The Court reasoned that the prohibited policy was not at risk. This was a family situation that did not involve the placement of a child with an unrelated party. The Supreme Court carefully limited its findings to the facts presented and declined to address the petitioners’ substantive due-process arguments.