The Siri-Princz family after they completed their second parent adoption.

In a victory for same-sex couples, the Queens Family Court has changed a long standing policy that required both parents to petition for adoption in all second parent adoptions. This unfair practice meant that a biological parent was literally required to adopt her own child. Now, thanks to NYLAG’s advocacy, only the parent without the biological relationship to the child will be required to petition the court for the adoption.

The policy change comes as NYLAG’s LGBT Law Project completes its first second parent adoption in Queens County, making the Siri-Princz family whole in the eyes of the law. Though she gave birth to the couple’s son Kayden, Segal Siri-Princz was asked to complete the same second parent adoption documents as her wife, Or, so that Or could legally adopt Kayden. This included being fingerprinted, listing all residences in the past 20 years, and passing a background check. NYLAG attorney Amira Samuel successfully argued that this requirement places an unfair and unnecessary burden on legal parents who are forced to petition for adoption of their own child. As a result, a new policy has been put in place that will require only the non-biological parent to complete the arduous second parent adoption process.

Supported in part by the Skadden Foundation, NYLAG’s second parent adoption initiative is a groundbreaking new project that is addressing the growing need among New York’s LGBT community for assistance with issues related to their legal rights as parents. According to the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), there are 645,317 LGBT persons living in New York State, and an estimated 21% of same-sex couples in New York are raising children. Custody, visitation and other complications related to child rearing can arise if a same-sex couple separates, moves to a state where their marriage is not recognized, or if the biological parent dies. Second parent adoption gives non-biological parents important parental rights – from picking a child up from school to making medical decisions in cases where they might otherwise be deemed “legal strangers.”

Click on the photo to watch Jen and Katherine's baby Edie, in the campaign's campaign video.

Click on the photo to watch Jen and Katherine’s baby Edie, in the campaign’s video.

NYLAG is also working to remove another major barrier to adoption: cost.  After spending $3,000 to adopt their own daughter, Jen Abrams and Katherine Pradt wondered what happened to low-income LGBT people who cannot afford to pay for second parent adoptions.  While searching for answers, they found the LGBT Law Project at NYLAG, which provides these services – and many others – at no cost to financially qualified LGBT community members. Jen and Katherine responded by launching an online fundraising campaign and enlisted their baby, Edie, to give her own must-see video endorsement. All funds raised support NYLAG’s LGBT Law Project to help low-income same-sex families legally adopt their children, ensuring that the child’s relationship to both parents is protected. The 30-day online fundraiser successfully raised over $6,000. Donations can now be made through NYLAG’s website by clicking here.