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Today is Tuesday, November 27, 2007


S.F. Backing Co-Parent Court Fight

Supreme Court urged to toss adoption ruling

[SAN FRANCISCO, CA] - The City of San Francisco has joined the court battle to uphold the validity of "second-parent" adoptions in the state --a popular arrangement used by a parent's unmarried partner to gain legal standing as a co-parent.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera took the lead Wednesday on behalf of California's 58 counties in urging the state Supreme Court, in a written friend-of-the-court brief, to reverse a lower court ruling that called into question the legality of such adoptions. The California State Association of Counties joined in the request.

Second-parent adoptions have been used widely by gay and lesbian families. Gay rights organizations estimate that there have been 10,000 to 20,000 such adoptions in California in the past 15 years, most of them involving same-sex couples.

The legal relationship is significant on two fronts: It affords the person who adopted the child parental rights even if the couple breaks up, and it assures that the child qualifies for the adoptive parent's insurance benefits, pension and inheritance.

The California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District, based in San Diego, ruled last fall that such adoptions were illegal under state law, igniting protest and concern, especially in the gay and lesbian community. The California Supreme Court has agreed to consider the issue.

The case involves a woman's request to adopt a child she helped raise since her partner gave birth. The birth mother withdrew her consent to adoption when the couple broke up. San Francisco and the other counties aren't taking a position on the specific case involving the San Diego family but are focusing on the wider implications involving adoptions overseen by public agencies.

"The Court of Appeal ruling cast a shadow over thousands of families around the state," said San Francisco Deputy City Attorney Julia Friedlander. "We think it's critically important that the Supreme Court confirms that these children have been legally adopted under California law, and eliminates the uncertainty these families face."

In San Francisco, for instance, the city's Department of Human Services placed 722 children in adoptive homes since 1995. Of those, an estimated 10 to 15 percent were placed in households headed by unmarried couples.

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