State agency has system in place for adoptions by same-sex couples

SCOTUS marriage ruling opens door for adoptions, raises concerns
A state agency said Thursday it has protocols in place to provide adoption services to legally married same-sex couples in Louisiana.
But opponents of the idea said they will not stop fighting.
Little Jules Bond Van Sickels got some help from one of her dads on park’s swing Thursday afternoon while the other watched, holding her new little brother.
But currently in the eyes of the state, only one of them is legally her parent.
Jules was adopted in 2011 when Louisiana did not recognize same-sex marriages. So only Nick Van Sickels’ name is on the official state documents relating to her adoption.
But with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling on same-sex marriage, Van Sickels’ and his spouse, Andrew Bond will change that.
"It's overwhelmingly exciting,” Van Sickels said.
Bond spoke of having to deal with Jules only being recognized as Van Sickels’ legally adopted daughter.
"Just having Nicholas’ name on it, it plays an emotional toll and you have to annually get a document saying that you have rights for education, or health. It just kind of reminds you that I'm not her father in those instances, so to know that Finch will come without any of that drama just by nature of his being born, I think that's an amazing feeling,” Bond said.
Finch’s adoption will be finalized by year’s end and the couple plans to amend Jules’ adoption.
"So now we can legally adopt him and our lawyer is doing it so that we can adopt Jules as an intra-family adoption and we're going to do it all at once when it finalizes, so it's great, it's wonderful news for us,” said Van Sickels.
In response to our inquiry, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services confirmed that it has the protocol in place to provide adoption services to legally married same-sex couples in the state.  However, DCFS said the addition of a second adoptive parent to an already established adoption is handled by the state’s court system, and not DCFS.
"There are many families that will be going back and adding a second parent that has been denied for far too long,” said SarahJane Brady, Executive Director of Forum for Equality Louisiana.
Still, opponents of same-sex marriage remain against the idea of same-sex couple adoptions.
"We're very strong about marriage between one man and one woman and the optimal, best situation is for a child to have a mother and a father, neither one is dismissible, neither one is dispensable,” said Kathleen Benfield, of Louisiana Family Forum.
Benfield stated that the organization is very involved in helping to find permanent traditional families for children in foster care.
"Since the church has gotten involved the number of children that are seeking homes has dramatically decreased,” stated Benfield.
"To those people I would say just look at the literature, look at the most recent studies that have come out, same sex couples do the same with their children as opposite sex couples, so there is no basis for that statement in my mind at all,” said Van Sickels.
Brady fears some other same sex couples in the state who wish to adopt as couples may face some delays.
"I do think that there's going to be some legal hurdles, but we're very hopeful that the state is going to be in full compliance…People are on the edge of their seats, you know these are families that have been denied recognition by the state and federal government for far too long and they are anticipating with great desire to finally have those legal protections and that legal recognition that they so deserve,” said Brady.
Benfield said they will keep battling to change public policy.
"We will be trying to speak to those public policies in every case possible to try to encourage that children be placed in a family that represents what we believe is the best for them and not based on what are the wants and desires of adults,” Benfield stated.

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