Single Sex Couple Adoption
By Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz Correspondent
Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog is launching policy that would allow single-sex families to adopt children in Israel who bear no biological connection to them.
This would constitute a breakthrough for gay and lesbian couples wishing to adopt. Until now, legal precedents have only enabled single-sex couples to do so when one member has requested to adopt the biological offspring of their partner, and through ordering the state to recognize adoptions that took place abroad.
Following discussions held at the Welfare Ministry on the legal aspects of the issue, the ministry’s Attorney General, Batia Artman, prepared a legal opinion on the matter, as did the Justice Ministry, both of which were submitted to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz for ruling. Herzog told Haaretz that the state must enable "single-sex couples who fully meet the criteria of parents to join the queue for adoption. A modern world-view in which there are diverse legal structures, teaches that the state also has to adapt itself to these eventualities, and in a modern state there is no choice but to recognize this and examine whether these parents are able to raise children with love and affection, according to the accepted standard. This is the instruction I passed onto the professional bodies, and I hope that the attorney general will support me."
There have been four requests in recent months by single-sex families to join the adoption service’s waiting list for a child, and thus have the state enable them to adopt.
While the Justice Ministry does not see its work in finding a general arrangement in principle for the issue, but rather in settling the specific requests of the couples, Herzog plans on viewing these cases as precedents which will determine the adoption service’s procedures in relation to future requests by gay and lesbian couples.
According to sources in the Welfare Ministry, Herzog wishes to exploit the momentum created by earlier High Court decisions in order to advance the treatment of single-sex couples and make their status equal to that of heterosexual ones. This is despite the fact that the ministry has for years related only to heterosexual couples as ’normative’ ones.
The High Court created a key legal precedent following Nicole and Ruthie Brenner-Kadish’s formalization of their adoption in California in 2000. After their subsequent petition to the court, where they asked it to instruct the state for recognition of the adoption, a three-justice panel sided with the couple, and ordered the Population Registry to list both of them as the child’s mothers.
An Interior Ministry official refused, however, saying that "biologically speaking the existence of two parents of the same gender is impossible."
The court also recognized a similar adoption by a lesbian couple in a 2005 ruling.