When Julie Edmunds and Sara Terry became the first North Carolina family to get a second parent adoption back in 2004, they had no idea it might all be taken away from them. A second parent adoption is when someone adopts the child of a partner who he or she is not married to. In North Carolina, a state where same sex couples can’t be married, it’s an important tool.
Edmunds and Terry had their second-parent adoption back in 2004, back when it was still possible to do so.
“I still remember to this day the judge standing there and saying… ‘I deal so much with people who are trying to avoid taking responsibility for their children that it’s just wonderful to see somebody wanting to take responsibility…’” Edmunds said.
But a court ruling in 2010 said that unmarried couples had no right to second parent adoptions in the state, possibly throwing the legal rights of people like Edmunds and Terry into question.
“I think that that is up for some debate,” said Chris Brook, legal director of the North Carolina ACLU, on the State of Things. “In that particular case, what they decided was that there were still some rights that attached…but they said that from this point forward, the state could not recognize second-parent adoptions.”
The ACLU has filed litigation in opposition of the ruling, and has recently amended its complaint to challenge the state’s ban on same sex Marriage. Brook said that the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act gives them good grounds to challenge the same-sex ban in North Carolina.
“I think one of the things that was so encouraging…was that the majority opinion seemed to very much understand the real impacts that the lack of marital recognitions has on families and has on children.”
On August 6, The Durham People’s Alliance will hold a screening of a new film, “Unconditional,” which examines the issue of second parent adoption. It will be shown at 6:30 p.m. at Motorco Music Hall in Durham.
Edmunds said the film highlights the struggles gay couples face when it comes to second-parent adoption
She and Terry are a featured family in the film.