Yesterday, Finland’s parliament passed monumental legislation through the Maternity Act — which states that both mothers of a newborn child will be granted full custody of their child. This means that lesbian mothers won’t have to fight through second-parent adoption legality to ensure that they are both recognized as mothers of their own child.
As the law currently stands, the mother who doesn’t give birth to her child has to legally adopt their child to become a fully recognized parent. These proceedings are usually extremely expensive and lengthy in process. It was the citizens of Finland who initially brought this issue to light, receiving support from 122 MPs, with only 42 voting against the legislation. These changes are expected to go into place in the Spring of 2019.
We can only hope that this type of advocacy for queers parents will continue to spread all over the world. Currently, in the US same-sex parents struggle through labor-intensive adoption processes while the biological father immediately has parental rights (even if he was simply a sperm donor and doesn’t want those rights).
“According to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, ten states forbid unmarried same-sex partners from seeking second-parent adoptions, while also granting immediate, rock-solid legal rights to unmarried straight parents. It’s a clear-cut example of how traditional biological definitions of cishet parentage have seeped into and become privileged under the law. When nearly every queer couple would need one, the issue of second-parent adoptions is one that disproportionately affects queer couples, as the only likely scenario for the process to be needed by straight couples is when a step-parent petitions the court for parental rights,” Katelyn Burns wrote for GO.
When rallying calls come from the people of Finland, their parliament seems to listen and take action. The Maternity Act mirrors the legal proceeds for same-sex marriage back in 2017 for Finland — which had been a long-awaited law to put into action. Congrats to the LGBTQ citizens of Finland for paving the way for equal rights!