Second And Step Parent Adoption

Do I need a second parent adoption?

For same-sex couples, if the only indication of your parentage is your name on a birth certificate, then, yes, you need a second parent adoption.  Birth certificates are administerial documents and are not entitled to full faith and credit by other states.  The court procedure known as second parent adoption is the only means by which a non-biologically related parent in a same-sex relationship may create a legal and portably binding relationship with their partner’s biological child. This specifically applies to families that travel between states.  If the couple uses a unknown sperm or ova donor, the child born of such an arrangement will only have one legal parent if that couple is unmarried. Some courts are now recognizing same-sex marriages  for the purpose of adding a non-biologically related mother’s name to a child’s Birth Certificate, however, other states are not bound to respect that relationship unless there is a Second or Step-Parent Adoption. If you are in need of an adoption call (212) 953-6447 or email

What is a step-parent adoption?

This is the court procedure where a married, non-biological parent can create a legally binding relationship with the biological child of their spouse. Many parents wonder whether their name on the birth certificate of their partner/spouse’s child is enough to create a legal relationship. The answer, unfortunately, is no. In a case from The New York County Surrogate’s Court, The Matter of Sebastian, Judge Kristen Booth Glen explains that the name of a non-biological parent on a birth certificate is an indication of parentage, but does not create that relationship. Cases where parentage claimed by a name on a birth certificate is challenged arise when a biological parent takes the child in question to a state that does not respect the marital status of the child’s parents.  If you are in need of an adoption call (212) 953-6447 or email

How long does the process take?

There is no definite answer to this question; however, the petition is usually processed completely in approximately 6 – 9 months. If you hire and attorney who is familiar with this process, the wait time may be reduced, however, much is dependent on the court’s calendar and schedule.

What do my partner or spouse and I need to prepare for a step parent or second-parent adoption?

The second parent or step parent adoption process is slightly different in each jurisdiction. A vast array of information is required to file a second parent adoption, including a home study from a clinical social worker, a criminal background check, employment and marital history verification, as well as personal reference letters in support of the proceeding.

Do both the biological parent and the adoptive parent have to provide information?

The answer to this question is usually yes if you are not married, and no if you are married. Some courts require that both the biological parent and the petitioning adoptive parent both apply to the court. This insures that the court receives all appropriate information regarding the adoption and that the biological parent consents to the process. However, as the courts learn about the specific needs of our families, they are adjusting to lessen the burden on biological parents in a Step/Second Parent Adoption. However, the courts are becoming much more familiar with our families, and our marriages, therefore the process is evolving. Your attorney should be able to tell you which protocols apply in your jurisdiction.

What if there is a known donor?

In situations where there is a known sperm or ova donor or a surrogate mother, the court requires that the donor/surrogate permanently surrender all legal rights to the child in order for the non-biological partner to adopt. If that donor/surrogate does not consent, the court will initiate a termination procedure. Moreover, a known donor cannot surrender their parental rights to a child unless there is either an agency or an actual person willing to legally adopt that child.