June 29, 2023
New Maine Confirmatory Adoption Law Increases Security for LGBTQ+ Families
A new law championed by Rep. Matt Moonen and signed yesterday by Governor Janet Mills provides key protections for LGBTQ+ families that reflect and amplify Maine’s longstanding commitment to protecting all children. LD 1906 will provide LGBTQ+ parents and their children with greater security, particularly if they travel or move to places outside of Maine that are less LGBTQ-friendly.
The legislation, LD 1906 An Act to Enable Confirmatory Adoption, streamlines the adoption process for parents who have had a child through assisted reproduction and are already parents under Maine law, to secure their parentage through an adoption decree. The new law removes cumbersome, costly, and unnecessary barriers, like waiting periods and home inspections, that non-biological parents often face when adopting their own children.
“We’re grateful for the leadership of Representative Moonen and for the thoughtful consideration of the Judiciary Committee, as well as to Governor Mills for signing this important law to advance fair and equal treatment for LGBTQ+ families,” said Mary Bonauto, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) Senior Director of Civil Rights and Legal Strategies.
“LGBTQ+ parents are rightfully worried about the safety of their children and families in light of escalating bias and discrimination across the country,” added Polly Crozier, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) Director of Family Advocacy. “We have seen judges in other states strip non-biological parents of their parental rights, and we all know that extremists are escalating legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ people. An adoption decree provides additional security for LGBTQ+ families especially if they travel or move outside of Maine.”
Maine has been a leader in ensuring every child has the security of a respected legal relationship with their parent or parents. The state passed the comprehensive Maine Parentage Act in 2015, which clarified the law of parentage and served as an impetus for other states to improve their protections. In 2021, Maine became the 10th state in the country to permit LGBTQ+ parents to secure their parentage through a simple administrative form, an Acknowledgment of Parentage, that has been available to different-sex parents for decades.
Under the new law parents of children born through assisted reproduction who are parents under the Maine Parentage Act need only submit to the court a petition signed by both parties that includes a copy of the child’s birth certificate, an explanation of the circumstances of the child’s birth through assisted reproduction, an attestation that each petitioner consented to the child’s birth through assisted reproduction, an attestation that no competing claims of parentage exist, and a copy of the parents’ marriage certificate, as applicable.
The court will then grant the adoption within 60 days of finding that either the parent who gave birth and the spouse were married at the time of the child’s birth and the child was born through assisted reproduction; or, for nonmarital parents, that the person who gave birth and the non-marital parent consented to the assisted reproduction; and that no competing parental claims exist.
A report published earlier this month by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) with COLAGE, Family Equality, GLAD, and NCLR, Relationships at Risk: Why We Need to Update State Parentage Laws to Protect Children and Families chronicles how the current patchwork of parentage laws across the country – many of which, unlike in Maine, have not been updated in decades – leaves LGBTQ+ parents and their children vulnerable. In the context of that continuing vulnerability throughout the country, LD 1906 adds one more critical avenue of protection for LGBTQ+ families in Maine.
GLAD was joined in testimony supporting LD 1906 by Equality Maine and American Academy of Pediatrics, Maine Chapter.