Are You Still My Mother?: Interstate Recognition of Adoptions by Gays and Lesbians

84 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2008 Last revised: 16 Oct 2008

See all articles by Rhonda Wasserman

Rhonda Wasserman

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

Date Written: 2008


Parents and their biological children routinely cross state borders safe in the assumption that the parent-child relationship will be recognized wherever they go. The central issue raised in this Article is whether the law guarantees parents and their adopted children the same security if the parents are gay. This question is part of a broader debate about the obligation of states to recognize changes in family status effected under the laws of other states, such as same-sex marriages and migratory divorces. The debate is divisive because it pits the family against the state; one state against another; and the needs of the federal union against the interests of individual states.

This rancorous debate is moderated by the Full Faith and Credit Clause. The Article explains why the Clause imposes a more rigorous obligation on states to recognize judgments, such as adoption decrees and divorces, than marriages and laws. The Article also unpacks and refutes the rationales submitted by the state of Oklahoma, which enacted a statute barring recognition of adoptions by same-sex couples, and Professor Lynn Wardle, who argued that "nonrecognition of lesbigay adoption decrees would be proper and permissible." The Article concludes that the Full Faith and Credit Clause commands interstate recognition of sister state adoption decrees regardless of the sexual orientation of the adoptive parents.

Keywords: full faith and credit, interstate recognition, adoption, jurisdiction, family law, conflict of laws

Suggested Citation

Wasserman, Rhonda, Are You Still My Mother?: Interstate Recognition of Adoptions by Gays and Lesbians (2008). American University Law Review, Vol. 58, No. 1, 2008, U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2008-05, Available at SSRN:

Rhonda Wasserman (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
(412) 648-1338 (Phone)
(412) 648-2648 (Fax)

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