February 19, 2010
5th Circuit Rules in Unmarried Parent Adoption Case
In a landmark decision published yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that Louisiana is required to list two fathers on the birth certificate of their adopted child. The two men adopted the Louisiana-born child in New York. Louisiana law does not allow adoption by unmarried parents. When the child's parents sought a birth certificate from Louisiana recognizing them as the legal parents, the registrar refused, arguing a number of exceptions that permitted Louisiana to refuse to recognize the adoption judgment of the New York court.
The USCA for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision that full faith and credit requires Louisiana to give the New York judgment effect and to issue the birth certificate recognizing the child's parentage.
"Even our opponents have said this is landmark case and we're pleased the court agrees that it's wrong to punish children just because the registrar doesn't like their parents," said Kenneth Upton, the attorney for Lambda Legal who represented the couple, Oren Adar and Mickey Ray Smith of San Diego.
Upton said he called Adar with news of the ruling and was told, "Can you imagine the coincidence? Right now I'm enrolling the child in school and they just asked me for a birth certificate."
"You talk about great timing," Upton said. "They were just delighted."
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