Not Even a North Carolina State Senator Can Legally Adopt Her Non-Biological Son

Julia Boseman, a state senator in North Carolina, adopted the biological son Jacob of her partner Melissa Jarrell. But then the couple separated, and Jarrell didn’t like the idea of her ex having parental rights. So she went to court to invalidate the adoption. North Carolina’s Supreme Court just sided 5-2 with Jarrell. How come?

Because under existing statute, Boseman’s legal adoption would have required Jarrell to give up her parental rights, which never happened during the proceedings five years ago. Sound funny? That’s because it is: In the state, like plenty of others, second-parent adoptions are not valid. And when a lower court waived the requirement that Jarrell give up her parental rights so Boseman — the state’s only openly gay lawmaker — could become a legal parent, it invalidated the whole thing; to the Supreme Court, then, there never was an adoption. (Worth noting: Jacob was born in 2002, when Boseman and Jarrell were living together.)

The ruling, however, upholds a lower court ruling granting joint custody, the AP reports. Which means Boseman will still be able to see her adopted son, with limitations — because doing so is in the best interests of Jacob, which is what all adoption cases are really about.

But what’s it mean for other gay couples with kids in the state? Bad news. Unless lawmakers step in to legalize either same-sex marriage or fully implement same-sex adoption rights on par with hetero couples, this disparity will remain.

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