Dear Yetta: How Does Second-Parent Adoption Work?

With all the advancement in the law, do we still have to do this?

Dear Yetta:

My wife and I recently had our first child. We conceived through a known donor after getting married, and last year I gave birth to our daughter. We’ve gotten advice from some of our friends who had children before marriage equality who tell us my partner should still go through the legal process of adopting our child. With all the advancement in the law, do we still have to do this?

– New Moms

Dear New Moms,

First and foremost, congratulations! What your friends have recommended, a second-parent adoption, is the best way to ensure that a non-biological (not blood-related) parent is given all of the rights and responsibilities of a biological (or birth) parent. Safeguarding these rights through this process is still advised to ensure that both parents are fully recognized under the law.

While New York courts have made strides in recognizing the rights of both birth and non-biological parents in same-sex marriages, these questions remain unsettled. I am proud to say that the Kurland Group working as co-counsel with the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York* in partnership with others recently won a landmark decision in the New York State Appellate Division, Second Department on behalf of a married same-sex couple whose donor petitioned for paternity rights, Joseph O. v. Danielle B., et al., 2018 NY Slip Op 01192. While this recent victory and others like it are heartening, they also underscore that these issues are still being worked out in the courts, and therefore the continued need for second-parent adoptions to avoid legal threats and challenges unique to LGBTQ families. We recommend retaining an LGBTQ-friendly law firm experienced in second-parent adoptions to help you navigate this process.

I hope this addresses your question, and again, congratulations on the new addition to your family.

*Special thanks to LeGal for their tireless dedication to protecting and advancing the rights of all LGBTQ New Yorkers

*Special thanks to Katie Cullum at Kurland Group for her assisitance with this column

Yetta would like to hear from you! Email questions to to Yetta Kurland at or call 212-253-6911. This column is not a consultation with an attorney and should in no way be construed as such or as a substitute for such consultation. Anyone with legal issues or concerns should seek the advice of their own attorney.

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