The United States Supreme Court on Monday sided with a lesbian mother who wants to see her adopted children, blocking, at least temporarily, an Alabama court’s order that declared the adoption invalid.
The justices issued an order in a case that puts on display legal challenges facing gay and lesbian parents even after the Supreme Court decided that same-sex couples have the right to marry.
The case involves a soured relationship between two women, and the three children they raised until the breakup. While they were together, a Georgia court in 2007 approved the woman’s adoption of the children to whom her partner gave birth during their 16-year-relationship. After the couple split, the children’s birth mother contested regular visits between the children and her former partner.
In September, Alabama’s highest court refused to recognize the other woman as a parent, saying the adoption they obtained in Georgia was not valid and that the Georgia court was wrong under that state’s adoption laws to grant it.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court set aside the Alabama decision as the justices decide whether to hear the woman’s appeal.
The noncustodial parent, known in court filings by her initials, V.L., said in a statement issued through her lawyer that she was overjoyed at the prospect of seeing her children again.
“I adopted my children more than eight years ago to be sure that I could always be there to protect them. This terrible Alabama decision has hurt my family and will hurt so many other families if it is not corrected,” she said.
Her ex-partner fought her visitation, saying the couple lived in Alabama but rented a home in Georgia only because they believed the court there to be friendlier to adoption petitions by gay couples.
Alabama justices ruled that the Georgia adoption law didn’t allow a, “non-spouse to adopt a child without first terminating the parental rights of the current parents.”
The Alabama Supreme Court earlier this year directed probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples even though a federal judge ruled the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. The directive brought a stop to the weddings until the U.S. Supreme Court said gay and lesbian people have a fundamental right to marry.