NY Landmark Court Ruling For Parenting Partnership Adoptions

Two friends in New York who have known each other for over a decade have been attempting to become parents together. The friends are not in a romantic relationship, nor do they live together. Their ideal situation was to be in a committed parenting partnership. After attempts at pregnancy, the friends were unsuccessful in getting pregnant, and decided to adopt. After a long process of waiting, one of them was granted a child from Ethiopia. Since the friends were not a couple or living together, only one parent was able to legally adopt the child. This is where it gets interesting.

When they returned to the U.S., the pair petitioned Manhattan Surrogate’s Court to have LEL named as a second legal parent, even though they don’t live together and are not romantically involved.

Manhattan Surrogate’s Court Judge Rita Mella ruled that a couple who are not romantically involved are legally allowed to adopt a baby, the first ruling of its kind in New York.

In a landmark ruling, Judge Rita Mella did so. (For the privacy of all involved, names were shortened or changed)

“From the moment they met G,, more than two years ago now, KAL and LEL have functioned as her parents,” the judge wrote in a decision from last month.

“G. calls KAL ‘Mommy’ and LEL ‘Daddy,’” and “although they live in separate households,” they “have created a nurturing family environment for G., including a well-thought-out, discussed and fluid method of sharing parenting responsibilities between their homes.”

Mella agreed, and used a 2010 state statute allowing “intimate partners” to adopt as a basis for allowing the couple’s the adoption to proceed, noting that the phrase can mean a close, long-term relationship.

She also cited the findings of the social worker who observed the family in action, and determined that “even though their relationship is not based on what many consider a traditional family, they exhibit a love and respect for one another and clearly cherish the family they have created.”

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