The District of Columbia amended its D.C. Domestic Partnership Judicial Determination of Parentage Amendment Act (aka D.C. Parentage Act) to allow some non-D.C. residents additional adoption or parentage rights. The amendment as noted on my website in March of this year, took effect in March 16, 2013. The amendment gives the D.C. Superior court the power to grant an adoption to any child who is born in the District, even if the family does not reside in D.C.
The newest District of Columbia laws on adoption and parentage have reflected a policy that favors extending parental rights to same-sex couples with children. The original D.C. Parentage Act, enacted in 2009, was unlike any other in the country. It provided that same-sex female couples who were married, registered as domestic partners in D.C., or who signed a Consent to Parent, to complete a second parent adoption of children born to one of the partners but also conferred the status of parent on both partners at birth when using artificial insemination and the other woman consented to her partner’s insemination with the intent to be a parent of the resulting child.
The law provides that if two women are married, are registered as domestic partners or they sign a consent to parent and their child is born in the District, then DC law will recognize the child as the legal child of both parents. But the new law goes even further – if the woman live in another state like Virginia, North Carolina or Texas and they give birth in the District of Columbia then the D.C. Superior Court has jurisdiction to hear the adoption case and grant an adoption and both woman will be presumed legal parents at birth if they sign the appropriate paperwork at the hospital.
The Act does not extend to male same-sex couples. A man cannot bear a child; therefore, he must use a gestational surrogate. But, surrogacy is illegal under D.C. law and so the D.C. Parentage Act does not provide any benefit to male same-sex couples.
The amendment to the D.C. Parentage Act is already having a profound effect on lesbian couples living in states that preclude second parent adoptions or parentage recognize to same sex female couples. Our law office has already filed several cases for families that live in Virginia and gave birth in the District of Columbia. If you are in a same-sex relationship in a state that precludes parental recognition or second parent adoption or you have legal questions regarding adoption or parentage rights, contact Jennifer Fairfax to schedule a consultation. She can be reached at JFairfax@jenniferfairfax.com.