Second-parent adoption is the adoption of a child by a second parent in the home who is not married to the legal parent of the child. A second-parent adoption allows a second parent to adopt their partner’s child without the “first parent” losing any parental rights. Adoptive parents usually have the same rights as biological parents in custody and visitation matters in States that allow second-parent adoption. In this section, you will find information about second-parent adoptions relevant to many different types of families, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) families.
Family Matters: Establishing Legal Parental Rights for Same-Sex Parents and Their Children
Human Rights Magazine
American Bar Association
Discusses the legal importance of having a second-parent adoption in same-sex families.
Foster and Adoption Laws: Second/Stepparent
Movement Advancement Project (2019)
Provides a map indicating which States authorize second-parent adoption.
Legal Recognition of LGBT Families (PDF - 269 KB)
National Center for Lesbian Rights (2019)
Defines a legal parent, second-parent adoption, and its availability in various States. The factsheet also provides information about parenting agreements and voluntary acknowledgements of parenting.
Same-Sex Spouses Turn to Adoption to Protect Parental Rights
Features a same-sex married couple's journey of second-parent adoption to ensure both of their parental rights are legally protected.
Human Rights Campaign
Gives information on State laws allowing second-parent adoption.
What’s a Second Parent Adoption?
Lists the reasons to pursue a second-parent adoption, describes the court process, defines an adoption home study, and explains what to do if a second-parent adoption is not available in your State.