Rep. Irwin and Sen. Warren Introduce "Second Parent Adoption Bills"

Bills seek to provide added protection for children
Monday, February 14, 2011

ANN ARBOR – Representative Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) today announced that they have introduced House Bill 4249 and a currently un-numbered Senate Bill, which allows for second parent adoption in the State of Michigan.

“Studies have shown the importance to children of maintaining a safe, loving home with two stable parents. This bill will ensure that more children in Michigan can enjoy the benefits of two parents who share all of the rights and responsibilities of parenthood,” said Irwin. “This bill removes legal hurdles for unmarried couples who want to provide legal rights for themselves and their adopted children. Extending parental obligations to both parents is a moral imperative because it gives more Michigan children the benefits of two legal parents and the assistance that two parents can provide in making medical decisions, emotional support and meeting financial obligations.”

Second parent adoption legally recognizes the relationship between a child and a parent. This recognition guarantees the children a host of legal and financial benefits, such as health insurance, authorization for medical care, and continuity of a parent-child relationship in the event of separation or death. Under current adoption law in Michigan, parental rights are restricted to either married couples or single individuals. When two unmarried parents have adopted or a natural parent wishes to extend parental privileges to an unmarried partner, current adoption code policy imposes a dangerous intermediate step – a child’s legal parent must sign away his or her rights and place the child in state custody before both parents will be awarded joint custody.

The process of second parent adoption is not new to Michigan. Our state currently allows a step-parent to adopt a child of his or her current spouse, whether natural or adopted, without having the parent terminate their rights. This bill simply extends the provisions and protections of the step-parent adoption process to all families. This extension changes nothing about the adoption process itself. Any adult wishing to become a second parent, or eligible foster parent, would still have to go through the normal channels of screening.

“We have many diverse families here in the state of Michigan,” said Warren. “It is high time we recognize these families and work to guarantee legal and financial security for all of our children. Second parent adoption will do just that, while also expanding the pool of potential foster and adoptive parents for thousands of Michigan children in need of a permanent home. In these uncertain times, we simply cannot ask these kids to wait any longer. We must act now.”