Reisinger Booth & Associates, P.C., L.L.O.

Nebraska looks toward lifting ban on gay adoption

In the state of Nebraska, same sex couples are not permitted by law to be foster parents or to adopt children. Unmarried or cohabitating couples cannot be foster parents. The state requires stringent screening on all foster care applications by visiting homes, doing background checks, and scrutinizing medical and mental health records. It is allowed to judge whether a couple or person is stable enough to care for a child.

Implicit in these laws is the exclusion of gay individuals or couples, even if they could pass the screening. There are currently almost 4,000 children in foster care in the system in the state of Nebraska. Many of them have known no other life.

One particular case has captured the nation's interest. Two gay men who have been in a relationship for over 30 years adopted five children from foster homes in California. Some of the children had been victimized by abuse, and been in and out of multiple group homes. After their placement in the home of the gay couple, several showed marked improvement in social skills and in academic performance.

When they moved to Nebraska, one of the men became employed as a church minister. As the children grew up and moved, they wanted to open their home to more needy kids. When they tried to do so, they were turned away by the state for being gay.

Recently that discrimination showed signs of going away. The state of Nebraska has ruled that adoptions by gay people who pass screening can take place. It confirmed banning them from adopting or being foster parents is a violation of their constitutional rights.

While this is just one case based on discrimination, it underscores the current trend of leaving children in a foster home rather than allowing them to experience a family. If you are part of a same sex couple looking at adopting a child or serving as a foster parent, you have rights under the law in the state of Nebraska. It is advisable to exercise this constitutional right to be a parent by consulting an objective professional who can guide you through the process of allowing a child to have a stable family life in a loving home.

Source: American Civil Liberties Union, "Nebraska's Ban on Gay Foster Parents is Beatable" James Essecks, Apr. 25, 2014

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