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An unusual case has sparked debate in Florida and elsewhere, as one state’s courts delve into the definition of what it means to be a parent. The matter has led to the halt of one couple’s step-parent adoption while the issue is sorted out in court. The outcome of the case could have an impact on the way that child custody and adoption proceedings are carried out across the nation.

The matter centers on a 9-year-old girl who was brought into the world by artificial insemination. Her biological mother was in a romantic relationship with another woman at the time, and both planned to parent the child. The mother’s partner was there to cut the umbilical cord at the time of birth, and carried the child on her health insurance. The couple split when the child was four years old, after which point the biological mother began dating a man.

She married the man a year later, and he filed a petition to adopt his stepdaughter. At that point, the former partner filed a child custody case and asked the court to halt the adoption until the matter of visitation could be resolved. The trial court ruled that the woman had the right to pursue custody, but an appellate court reversed that ruling, due to the fact that the woman has no biological or legal ties to the child. The state’s Supreme Court reviewed the matter, and ruled that the woman can proceed with her custody case, and that the step-parent adoption should be paused until the matter is resolved.

This leaves the child in a position of having no legal second parent, while two individuals vie in court to fulfill that role, one through a custody bid and the other through a petition for step-parent adoption. The case is unusual in that the court is being asked to clarify the definition of parenthood. As the matter moves forward, readers in Florida and elsewhere will follow the case to see how this unusual set of circumstances is resolved.

Source: hawaiinewsnow.com, “Court allows custody case pitting ex-gay couple to proceed”, Bruce Schreiner, Feb. 18, 2016