Same-Sex Adoptions Next Frontier for LGBT Advocates

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"Laws that are implicitly or explicitly aimed at adults are, in fact, hurting children because they simply eliminate good potential parents," he said. "If children are our primary focus, then we should be taking steps to include, rather than exclude, "more and more adults."

An estimated 6 million children are being raised in the United States by a least one LGBT parent, according to the Williams Institute.

In states like Michigan, there is a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, as well as an explicit on one adoption.

Kent Love-Ramirez, director of communications at Michigan State University, and Diego Love-Ramirez, a pilot for Delta Airlines, were legally married in Washington, D.C., and live in Lansing, the Michigan capital. But they have not been allowed to adopt their 3-year-old son, Lucas.

The couple has been together for 11 years and were subject to a thorough home study. The birth mother selected them from other couples, including straight ones, to raise Lucas in an open adoption, they said.

"Fortunately, we would go to the doctor's appointments and we were both present at the birth," Kent Love-Ramirez, 43, said. "Diego cut the umbilical cord. It was quite a blessing."

But only one was legally able to adopt and the couple refuses to say which one. They have jumped through "extra hoops" to ensure the nonlegal parent has guardianship rights, rather than next of kin.

"We have recognition at the federal level, but not the state level," Love-Ramirez said. "Honestly, the biggest fear is a situation I hate to imagine: If we were divorced or separated, the nonlegal parent would have no rights."

Pat Silverthorn, a 53-year-old tech specialist in an elementary school, has no legal rights to her 12-year-old son Corey. She and her spouse, Sue Anna Clark, 57, were married in Washington, D.C., and live in Reston, Va., where their marriage and adoption is not recognized.

"We adopted Corey when he was a baby in New York City, but the adoption couldn't be finalized right away because there were issues with the birth father and not being able to find him," Silverthorn said.

Clark, who is Corey's legal parent, recently retired and no longer has health insurance from her job as a high school teacher. So now, instead of paying $100 a month, she pays $950 a month for Corey's and her coverage.

Silverthorn, who is working with benefits, cannot include their son because she is not the legal parent.

"In Virginia, they have done everything they can to put obstacles in our way," she said.

Even if the couple moved across the river to Washington, D.C., where gay marriage is legal, Silverthorn still would not be able to include Corey on her health policy, because she works in Virginia.

"We have a right to live in Virginia and to continue to live here," she said. "We know many, many couples like ours. In our world, our neighbors and in school soccer clubs we are just parents -- like everyone else.

"We have never encountered a neighbor or a co-worker or teacher who has been anything other than treat us like a family."

Click here for more resources on adoption.

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