Child Welfare

OVERTURNED: Florida Court Declares Out-of-State Gay Adoptions Legal


Adoptions by gays and lesbians is prohibited in Florida, the only state that explicitly targets homos (other states ban gay adoption by limited it to married couples). But what about same-sex couples who adopt children in other states, then move to Florida — are those legal adoptions no longer recognized? As of today’s ruling, they will be.

NCLR: “Today, the Florida Court of Appeals unanimously reversed a lower court ruling and held that Florida must give full faith and credit to adoptions granted to same-sex couples by other states, holding that Lara Embry, the plaintiff in the case, ‘must be given the same rights as any other adoptive parent in Florida.’ The court based its decision on the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the federal constitution and a Florida statute requiring Florida to honor adoption decrees from other states. Noting that ‘there are no public policy exceptions to the full faith and credit which is due to judgments entered in another state,’ the court concluded that ‘regardless of whether the trial court believed that the Washington adoption violated a clearly established public policy in Florida, it was improper for the trial court to refuse to give the Washington judgment full faith and credit.’ A concurring opinion further noted that Embry’s ‘same-sex relationship with [the other parent] is irrelevant for the purpose of enforcing her rights and obligations as an adoptive parent.'”

So how’d we even get here? “The case arose when Lara Embry filed a petition seeking shared custody of a child she had raised with her former partner, Kimberly Ryan. The couple had two children together. Each gave birth to one child, and each adopted her non-biological child through a second-parent adoption in the state of Washington, where the family lived. The couple moved to Florida, and their relationship ended several years later. They agreed to share custody of both children and did so successfully until Ryan unilaterally decided to separate the children, who are deeply bonded as siblings, and cut off all contact between Embry and one of the children.”

Meanwhile, another court case is working its way through the system that addresses Florida’s in-state adoption ban — which has more hope of yielding a favorable outcome than the bills snaking through the legislature right now — and many expect it to make its way to the Florida Supreme Court.