HB214 would allow a cohabiting partner to adopt in cases where a child has only one legal parent and that parent supports the adoption. The adoptive parent would have to show he or she had parental relationship with the child and provided emotional and financial support.
"We have a number of new legislators who haven't had a chance to meet or visit with families, including grandparents, extended relatives, and friends, who would like to tell them their stories," Chavez-Houck said. "In continuing to run the bill, I provide those families a chance to talk about their challenges."
Utah adopted a ban on same-sex couple adoptions in 2000. In 2011, the Williams Institute at UCLA, using Census data from 2005-2009, estimated about 24 percent of Utah's same-sex couples are raising children together.
Utah is one of just two states the other is Mississippi that outright bar gays and lesbians from adopting a partner's child, according to the Human Rights Campaign. In Michigan, state courts have ruled unmarried couples may not jointly petition to adopt; courts in three other states have ruled against second-parent adoptions.
Same-sex couples may jointly petition to adopt from biological parents or the state in 16 states and the District of Columbia; same-sex couples also have successfully petitioned for that right in Minnesota. Second-parent adoptions are an option in 10 states, and couples have successfully petitioned for that right in 16 other states.
Other adoption-related bills already moving in the Legislature:
SB31 would provide a $1,000 refundable tax credit for families who adopt children with special needs who are between the ages of 5 and 18. It would apply to adoptions that took place on or after Jan. 1, 2013 and may be claimed in the year the adoption became final. A fiscal note attached to the bill, which the Senate has passed, estimates it would cost the state's education fund $350,000 annually.
SB155 would create parameters for the widely accepted practice of open adoption. It requires such agreements to be approved by a court to be legally enforceable and states that a violation of an agreement is not grounds to set an adoption aside. The Senate Judiciary committee will consider the bill Tuesday.