A Lesbian-Centered Critique of Second-Parent Adoptions

23 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2007

See all articles by Julie Shapiro

Julie Shapiro

Seattle University School of Law


When lesbian couples start families, one woman often begins with all the legal entitlements of parenthood, either by giving birth or by virtue of adopting a child, while the other woman has no legal rights. She is a non-legal parent. Absent legal rights she suffers many critical disadvantages. Second-parent adoptions have been developed to allow lesbians to create families with two-legal parents. They have been widely hailed as a solution to the problem of the non-legal parent. This article argues, however, that for many women they may actually make matters worse. Because some women can use second-parent adoptions, women who do not use them will be at a greater disadvantage. And the community of women who do not use second-parent adoptions may be marked by class, race and other circumstances of disadvantage. As such, second-parent adoptions must be viewed critically rather than as an uncomplicated good.

Keywords: Lesbians, adoption, second parent adoption, lesbian legal theory, family law

JEL Classification: K10, K19

Suggested Citation

Shapiro, Julie, A Lesbian-Centered Critique of Second-Parent Adoptions. Berkley Women's Law Journal, Vol. 14, No. 17, 1999. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1029698

Julie Shapiro (Contact Author)

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA n/a 98122-1090
United States

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