Adoption Not Final In North Carolina

Imagine adopting a child and being that child’s parent for nearly a decade and then being told, oops, you’re not the parent after all.  Now imagine that the reason for this is that the child’s birth mother, with whom you were raising the child, didn’t give up her parental rights.  That’s the ruling handed down by the North Carolina Supreme Court on Monday.  Apparently, if an unmarried man wants to be a father to his partner’s child but isn’t the biological father, the mother has to give up her parental rights.

The case in which the decision was made involved two women, but I don’t see how that is relevant (and, in fact, doesn’t seem to be a factor in the decision.)  It seems clear that the law, upheld by this decision, says that two people, not married to each other, cannot both be parents to the same child.  Oh, and what’s best for the kid doesn’t matter.

While this is a clear argument for the absolute necessity of legalizing, at a federal level, marriage equality, what’s more important here is that a mother has been denied her motherhood.  The court, thankfully, still allowed for joint custody, but by taking away parental rights, the justices have taken away an essential part of her relationship with the child.  In fact, in a dissenting opinion, Associate Justice Robin Hudson wrote that “the majority overlooks the interests of this child and promotes (Jarrell’s) rights over those of the child, in direct contravention of the law as written.”

Associate Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson dissented on the basis of timing — she wrote that there is a very good reason why adoptions are final with a very limited time frame for challenging them.  “The legislature determined it to be in the best interest of minors that adoptions be final,” she wrote, “and allowed challenges in narrow circumstances, none of which are satisfied in this case.”

If someone wants to be a child’s parent and the other parent(s) are okay with it, I don’t see why there has to be a marriage involved, especially when the state denies that option anyway.  This is a bad decision for a lot of reasons and takes North Carolina one step backwards into the dark ages.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply