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Same-Sex Adoptions: Should Partners Have Legal Custody

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In raising any child, says Kaslow, "it's important for children to have multiple role models in addition to the parents. If the parents aren't interested in sports or the arts or whatever, it helps to get role models who are. For example, "lesbian couples may want to have male role models," she says.

When partners are not allowed to adopt, "it creates huge problems," says Lynne Z. Gold-Bikin, Esq., past chair of the American Bar Association's Family Law Section. "What rights does the partner have to take the kid to the hospital if there's an emergency? He's not the legal parent; he can't go in with the child. We have the same problem with grandparents taking care of kids."

When it comes to state laws, Gold-Bikin cites homophobia as the crux of the problem. "Look at the statistics: 90% of homosexual children are raised by heterosexual parents, their natural parents. It's based on a religious concept that there's something wrong with homosexuality in the first place."

"Things are changing," says David Purcell, JD, PhD, a clinical psychologist, attorney specializing in gay couple therapy, and author of the book, On the Road to Same-Sex Marriage. "In the gay community, there's a growing interest in adoption, not only among women but also men. There also are more people willing to fight for their rights."

"It's important to know how many areas of your life are affected by essentially being a second-class citizen," says Purcell. "We can't avail ourselves of many rights that heterosexual couples can. These second parent adoptions are really second-class solutions."

Purcell advises contacting the Lambda Legal Defense Fund or your local gay legal association to find out the laws in your state.

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