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Why Do We Use The Term “stepparent” Adoption?

Why do we use the term “stepparent” adoption?

The offensiveness of “stepparent” adoptions to an LGBT couple:

Adoption of a child(ren) may occur in several different scenarios. One scenario is when a one spouse is adopting the child(ren) of the other spouse. This is what most people think of when they hear the term “stepparent adoption”.

An adoption by a spouse whose child was created using assisted reproductive technology, however, can be offensive. Think of it this way: If a man consents to his wife having a child using sperm from a sperm donor, he doesn’t need to adopt the child. The law already says he’s the father, period. If a woman consents to her wife using sperm from a sperm donor, she will need to adopt the child, via a stepparent adoption. It makes no difference that the woman will automatically be placed on the child’s birth certificate by way of being married to the birthmother on the date of the child’s birth. If a man consents to his husband getting another woman pregnant with her egg, he will need to adopt the child, via a stepparent adoption; and he won’t automatically be placed on the child’s birth certificate at birth.

We realize that to same-sex parents, it is offensive to have to participate in a process which is referred to as a “stepparent” adoption, in situations where the couple utilized assisted reproductive technology to create their family, using one of the spouse’s genetic material and/or the genetic material of gamete donors. After all, why should you have to adopt your own child, the child you both created and intended to be your own from before conception? We get it. It’s more than frustrating and can be disturbing to think that you must complete a “stepparent adoption” in order to confirm your child is your child.

The fact remains, however, that the law has not caught up with science, and the only legal remedy right now in North Carolina to establish your parentage with respect to the child you created using assisted reproductive technology (in the situations described above), is to obtain a stepparent adoption. The legal forms in each county use the term “Stepparent Adoption”, and those forms are required for filing the adoption petition in court in situations as described above. Unfortunately, the law and the clerks who process adoptions will only use the term “stepparent” adoption in those situations.

At Haas & Associates, PA, we refer to these adoptions internally as “confirmatory” adoptions, because it is a legal confirmation that your child is your child.  Nonetheless, until the law can catch up with assisted reproductive technology and the meaning and use of the term “intended parents”, we will continue to do whatever it takes to protect our families, even if it means using the process of “stepparent” adoption in order to solidify your rights as a parent.  Now more than ever, it is imperative that you complete all of the necessary legal steps in order to protect your family, even if it means utilizing the stepparent adoption process to do so. Give us a call at (919) 783-9669 or email us at, if you’d like to learn more about how to protect your family.

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