Same-Sex Marriage Changes Make for Happy Adoptive Parents

Ashley Sawyer hhrBy J. Ashley Sawyer, Hedgepeth, Heredia & Rieder

I recently helped my client Jessica, who is part of a same-sex couple, adopt her partner’s two biological children. With the couple’s permission, I am sharing their story as an example of how Georgia’s adoption process can work to unify same-sex families.


At the time Jessica came to me about the adoption process, she was in a long-term relationship with her partner, Jina. Jina is the biological mother of two children. Jessica had helped Jina raised her two girls and both children called Jina and Jessica “mom.” After many years together, the couple decided they wanted to make legally official their already strong family bond.


Jina jessica court adoption photoAt the time we filed the adoption, Jina and Jessica were unmarried and the Supreme Court had not yet ruled on the legality of same-sex marriage. As a result, the only avenue available for Jessica's adoption is what family law practitioners call a "second parent adoption." That is essentially a blend of an independent adoption and a step-parent adoption.


Now that same-sex marriage is legal, same-sex couples can file step parent adoptions, which require less paperwork and can take a shorter period of time to complete than second parent adoptions. 


I often hear Superior Court Judges say that adoptions are the happiest thing they do while on the bench. Adoptions are truly one of my favorite parts of my practice and it was a privilege to assist Jessica through this process.   

Jina jessica court adoption photo2The Judge for Jessica's case was the Honorable Robert E. Flournoy III of Cobb County Superior Court. Like most judges, he allowed for pictures and made it a fun event for the family.

He even invited the girls to come up to the bench to sit in his chair and bang the gavel, which was a highlight of the day. It was a memorable experience for all.