German Adoption Ruling Through the Eyes of a German Lesbian Mom

Germany’s highest court ruled Tuesday that same-sex partners may adopt children already adopted by their partners. Stephanie Gerlach, a lesbian mom living in Germany, who has been writing, researching and counseling in the field of lesbian and gay parenthood for over 20 years, sent me an e-mail explaining the ruling in the context of the broader situation for gay and lesbian parents in her country. She was kind enough to let me share it here.

Stephanie blogs (in German) at Rainbow Family News. She is the author of two books, Und was sagen die Kinder dazu?  Gespräche mit Töchtern und Söhnen lesbischer und schwuler Eltern (What do the children say? Portraits of daughters and sons of lesbian and gay parents), first published in 2005 and now in its 3rd edition, and Regenbogenfamilien. Ein Handbuch (Rainbowfamilies. A handbook), published in 2010. Please enjoy her post!

Good News from Germany

Stephanie Gerlach

Our highest court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) ruled yesterday that the second parent-adoption concerning adoptive kids should also be applicable to registered same-sex couples. YEAH!
Let me try to explain the weird legal situation for lesbian and gay families in Germany: Since 2005 second-parent adoption of the biological child of one of the partners has been possible. Adoptive children could not be adopted a second time—unless within a heterosexual marriage. The reason for this: In Germany gay and lesbian partners still cannot adopt together as a couple, only one of them. So yesterday’s historically really important decision is the first step into the direction “joint adoption.” Actually not that many rainbow families with adoptive children live in Germany because there are far more parents who would like to adopt than children that can be adopted. So the few gay (and fewer lesbian) couples mostly adopt in foreign countries.
Actually the big thing is that great changes have taken place in Germany for the last 20 years. The court stated that “Rainbow families must be protected by the constitution.” This is hard to believe because our government, especially the conservative party CDU/CSU with our chancellor Angela Merkel, is still very opposed to equal rights.  But the social democrats together with the Greens are a strong opposition that truly supports equal rights. And the comments in the important newspapers were so positive—unbelievable. That puts a lot of pressure on Merkel.
In September 2013 we will have the next elections. Yesterday’s ruling made it clear: Marriage equality will be one of the top issues. Because with no joint adoption and tax-related inequality there are the two remaining fields that need a major change. I hope that one day marriage is open to everybody.
If you have any questions please feel free to ask—these legal issues are somewhat complicated and only too often we have to realize that it is not about “on behalf of the children” or about respect, it is only about power, influence and votes. Well, we’ll see, the German activists are in a good mood these days!