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Second-parent adoption upheld in lesbian Georgia couple’s divorce case

Adoption Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

The GA Voice reports that the Georgia Court of Appeals has upheld a lesbian couple’s second-parent adoption, although the court declined to address the state’s marriage equality ban on the legality of second-parent adoptions in general.  The complex case arose after Nicole Bates, who became pregnant through a sperm donation in 2007, requested that her partner Tina be allowed to adopt the child as a second legal parent.  A Fulton County judge approved the adoption.  From the GA Voice:

In 2010, the couple broke up and the biological mother, Nicole Bates, went back to Judge Glanville and asked the adoption be voided. Judge Glanville told Nicole Bates that she did not file within the six-month time limit allowed to challenge adoption cases, so the second-parent adoption was still legal.

Not satisfied, Nicole Bates appealed the judge’s decision to the Court of Appeals, which eventually dismissed the case. Nicole Bates went to the state Supreme Court seeking to void the adoption of her former partner, but the state Supreme Court also decided to not hear the case.

Tina then filed for custody of the child, but when the Georgia Supreme Court would not hear the case, Nicole filed a motion asking Henry County to dismiss Tina’s request since Georgia does not allow second-parent adoptions between couples who are not married.  A state judge in Henry County sided with Nicole, but Tina requested that an appeals court invalidate the ruling, arguing that the case had already been decided in Fulton County.  The Court of Appeals sided with Tina, but stated clearly in its decision that it decided “nothing in this case about whether Georgia law permits a ‘second parent’ adoption.”

You can read the court’s full ruling below.


  • 1. Sagesse  |  July 20, 2012 at 8:51 am


  • 2. jpmassar  |  July 20, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Well, that was clear as mud.

  • 3. Steve  |  July 20, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I really despise gay parents who use anti-gay laws to get their way after a breakup

  • 4. Scott Wooledge  |  July 21, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Sad case. I really don't have much respect for parents who use children as weapons to hurt their exes though.

    Sorry, Nicole. You were a grown up when you decided to have a child with Tina, you were a grown-up when you let her adopt the child. Now, be a grown up and deal with the consequences: she's the child's mother too, legally and morally. Taking a mother away from a child is mean and spiteful. And usually not in the best interest of the child. (If Nicole felt the child was unsafe in Tina's care, their are other mechanism available to limit the child's exposure to a drug addicted, abusive, or otherwise dangerous parent.)

  • 5. Drpatrick1  |  July 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    What a despicable ruling. The law in GA is designed to be antifamily, and not in the best interest of the child. To me, this is the definition of despicable. It sounds like these women were able to get around the law, establish legal bonds to protect their family in the event of a tragedy like dissolution of the relationship. Good for them, and great for their child. However, this ruling quite clearly to me indicates the adoption should not have been approved in the first place, should have been voided initially, but because it wasn't and likely wasn't because of an error in legal arguments, it will stand. In the end this helps the non birth mother, and the child, more importantly, to know her entire family of intention. But, it sets bad precedent for future families trying to protect themselves the way these women did. It clearly lays out the blueprint for how to go about nullifying your second parent adoption decree. Now, any such decree in GA could be challenged by anyone at anytime, except by the exact same parties who previously fought in court over it.
    This ruling reeks of animus towards gay people. Not the type of animus some are subjected to in church on Sundays, but the institutional homophobia that continues to deny glbt families the dignity and equal access to due process they deserve!

  • 6. CarolineKnight  |  October 23, 2012 at 10:28 am

    I guess they shouldn't have sent out lesbian wedding invitations and got married if it was just going to end this way. Not only that, they've also caused harm in the kid's life with what they did.

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