Never Too Late

Kentucky Lesbian Formally Adopts Her 28-Year-Old Stepson Following New Marriage Ruling

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In a move that highlights the legal hoops that gay couples have to go through in order to protect their families, one half of a lesbian couple has formally adopted the 28-year-old son she’s been co-parenting with her spouse for over 25 years. is sharing the story of Joan Callahan and Jennifer Crossen, a lesbian couple who were married in Massachusetts last October after 25 years together. However, a law in Kentucky that limited step-parent adoptions to heterosexual couples had stopped Callahan from legally adopting Crossen’s son David. That law has changed with the federal ruling that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The adoption is a formality that is designed to protect the family financially.

Though Callahan is a professor at the University of Kentucky, she wasn’t allowed to cover either Crossen via her health insurance, and while she was co-parenting David Crossen for years, he was unable to receive the tuition discount for children of U.K. professors.

If David Crossen were to inherit Callahan’s property in the event of her death, he would have to pay a 16% inheritance tax if not legally recognized as her stepson. “Money isn’t everything, but there are real material harms caused by this inequity in the law,” she said.

For his part, Crossen is thrilled with both the firm legal standing of the move and the symbolism of it. “It means a lot to me and to her. It recognizes her for her quarter century of being my parent,” he said. “But it’s not as though the legal recognition provides additional validation to us or changes the way I feel about Joan or how she feels about me.”