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Alabama

Appeals court denies lesbian spouse parental adoption rights

Monday, October 15, 2012

MOBILE, Ala. — The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has denied a lesbian the right to adopt her partner’s 6-year-old son, because the the state does not permit or recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions.

The ruling upholds a lower court decision by Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis, who denied Cari Searcy’s adoption petition even though she has been with her partner, Kim McKeand, for 14 years – and legally married her in California in 2008.

Cari Searcy (left) and Kim McKeand, with their son Khaya.

This is the second time that Searcy has tried to legally adopt the couple’s son, Khaya.

In 2006, Searcy filed the adoption paperwork, only to be turned down. At that time, the court ruled that the adoption was not permissible since the two were not married.

In 2008, the couple traveled to California prior to the passage of Proposition 8 and were legally married there. Upon their return to Mobile, with a valid California marriage license, Searcy again petitioned to adopt the child.

“We’re not asking for the state to legally marry us,” said Searcy. “I’m just asking for the right to legally adopt our son so I can make medical decisions for him, educational decisions, the normal parental things.”

Following last week’s decision by appeals court, Searcy said she was “disappointed,” but was expecting the outcome. “You always hope for the best.”

The Mobile Press-Register reported that the couple has discussed appealing the ruling to the Alabama Supreme Court or taking the case to federal court, but that no decision has been made.

Searcy’s lawyer, Vivian Beckerle, said the cost of an appeal is one of the factors her client will have to consider.

“It does begin to get expensive to carry it forward,” she said. “I’d like to see them do it, because it is something the state needs to confront head-on.”

Adoption is not merely a theoretical exercise — Khaya had open-heart surgery when he was 3 months old, and hospital officials would not allow Searcy to sign permission forms for medical procedures.

Alabama’s only openly gay legislator, state Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) said she was also disappointed by the ruling.

“If we truly care about the welfare of children, it’s most important that they be in a loving family,” said Todd. “It restricts the ability to raise the child if only one parent can have custody.”

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14 more reader comments:

  1. This makes me so angry and sad!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 4:19pm
  2. well screw that court to take it to the supreme court

    Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 4:20pm
  3. This is sad, and it’s why Equality is so important.

    Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 4:28pm
  4. go over them…take it to next level

    Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 4:29pm
  5. That’s what we are going to get until a Federally recognized equality legislation.

    Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 4:32pm
  6. Alabama clinging to the 19th. Century

    Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 4:35pm
  7. This is why we need the American Equality Bill

    Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 4:43pm
  8. backward bigots!

    Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 4:47pm
  9. Alabama, where you can legally marry your cousin, but not your partner. Inbreeding is fine, but not homosexuality.

    Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 5:21pm
  10. god forbid a child recieves a family, far better for his mental health to watch his family be ripped apart. sure, that makes sense. In alabama.

    Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 5:24pm
  11. Sad but i expect no less :(

    Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 5:25pm
  12. I would suggest they move to a real state with kind, caring people… not the Deep South.

    Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 5:29pm
  13. This just pisses me off…smh

    Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 5:46pm
  14. home skoolin’ aint just fer home, it’s fer ritin serius law in alabammy. seriously, though, i’m not surprised; sickened, but not surprised.

    Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 6:45pm