Unprecedented Ruling Allows Unmarried Friends to Adopt Child as a Family

New York CourthouseNEW YORK CITY – In an unprecedented court ruling, a Manhattan judge has given two unmarried ‘co-parents’ permission to adopt a child from Ethiopia.

New York Daily News reports that two friends—the man identified as “LEL” and the woman identified as “KAL” in court documents—agreed to establish a co-parenting relationship several years ago. With their agreement, LEL offered to be a sperm donor for KAL.

As previously reported, co-parenting is an increasingly-popular trend, especially in large cities like New York and Los Angeles. Co-parenting usually involves two unmarried people who agree to a parenting contract, where the responsibilities of raising the child are shared between the two adults.

Though co-parenting is especially popular among homosexual men and women, it also appeals to individuals who want to experience parenthood without the “trouble” of committed, long-term marriage relationships.

As reported by New York Daily News, LEL and KAL eventually decided to adopt a child, since KAL was unable to get pregnant. In 2011, they traveled together to Ethiopia to adopt a baby girl.

At first, U.S. officials only allowed KAL to be legally registered as the baby girl’s parent, since she was not married to LEL. However, they petitioned Manhattan Surrogate’s Court to have LEL also named as a legal parent.

Despite the fact that KAL and LEL do not live together and are described by local media as being “just friends,” Judge Rita Mella granted their request for legal parenthood following an inspection by a social worker. In the landmark ruling, Mella argued that the co-parents have sufficiently acted as parents for the baby girl.

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“[The girl] calls KAL ‘Mommy’ and LEL ‘Daddy,’” Mella stated in the ruling. “[A]lthough they live in separate households, … [they] have created a nurturing family environment for [the child], including a well-thought-out, discussed and fluid method of sharing parenting responsibilities between their homes.”

“[E]ven though [the co-parents’] relationship is not based on what many consider a traditional family,” Mella continued, “they exhibit a love and respect for one another and clearly cherish the family they have created.”

Bernard Clair, a lawyer not involved in the adoption case, told reporters that the unprecedented ruling “expands the boundaries of adoption rights,” since it establishes a precedent for further co-parenting adoptions.

However, some Christian leaders are warning of the court decision’s consequences. Kevin Swanson, a family expert and director of Generations with Vision, told Christian News Network that changing God’s definition of the intrinsic family unit is harmful to society.

“Breaking up the family has always been perceived as emotionally, socially and morally de-stabilizing,” Swanson stated. “That’s the point driven home by biblical law in the Old Testament. I think that modern history has proven the point beyond any doubt whatsoever.”

Swanson cited two studies—one from the University of Texas and another from The Heritage Foundation—which reveal the negative effects non-traditional family structures have on children. Child abuse, depression, poverty, and drug addictions are all social ills commonly brought on by non-nuclear family structures, according to the studies.

“Of course,” Swanson continued, “we ought to protest social and civil approval of immoral and destructive lifestyles. But at the same time, Christian families may also provide healthy homes in which children may be raised in the nurture of the Lord.”

Swanson says strong Christian families are especially important during times of societal upheaval.

“Stable Christian homes may be the only firm foundations left for human society,” he said. “Christian parents that refuse divorce, that adopt needy children, that nurture their own children in Christ are the only strong foundational supports left in a shaky Western world.”

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