Gay adoption where it's illegal
In Florida, where gay people are banned from adopting children, couples are forced to upend their lives to skirt the law.
This story was originally reported by PRI's The Takeaway. For more, listen to the audio above.
Florida is the only state in the country that bans gay people, whether individuals or couples, from adopting. "Not felons, not child molesters, no other category of people are denied consideration as adoptive parents," Charles Perez told PRI's The Takeaway. Perez, a former TV news anchor, and his same-sex partner were still determined to adopt. He said, "that meant we had to find a way to go around the system."
Perez and his partner were warned by a lawyer, "They will take that child away from you, and they have done it." To stop that from happening, Perez established residency in Kansas, where there are no laws against same-sex couples adopting. Other states force people to stay for nine months or a year, but Kansas requires only two months.
The process was still frustrating for Perez. He points out that a straight couple would be able to adopt a child and come home immediately. "Florida would honor that adoption and let them come home," he says. "We weren't allowed to do that, or they'd take our kid away from us. Just because we're gay."
"This is not just bigotry in terms of sexual orientation," Perez says, "I thought it was bigotry based on economics as well." Many same sex couples can't afford to upend their lives and move to Kansas. Those who have the means, though, are able to adopt.
The sad irony, according to Perez, is that "Florida has one of the worst rates of kids living in foster care who never get put into permanent homes." That means Florida needs more parents adopting, but they're denying gay parents at the same time.
The problems didn't end once the couple adopted their daughter, either. Perez explains, "we couldn't get her health insurance, because both of our policies have a line in it that to insure an adoptive child, the adoption has to be in compliance with Florida state law." They were finally able to get their daughter insured, but only after months of wrangling.
"So suddenly," he says, "our beautiful little girl couldn't get health insurance because of the Florida ban on gay adoption."
"Our objective is just to love her and give her every opportunity we can," Perez says, but the Florida ban makes that extremely difficult. In the end, he and his partner may have to leave the state to get the best situation for his daughter. He explains: "It's a daily conversation. And we may."
"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what's ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH. More at thetakeaway.org