RALEIGH — A state senator's custody fight with her former domestic partner may lead to an expansion of a little-used legal procedure under which gays and lesbians in North Carolina have been adopting children.
A three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals this week unanimously upheld Sen. Julia Boseman's 2005 adoption of her partner's child , entitling Boseman to joint custody. Boseman, a Wilmington Democrat, adopted the child in Durham because it is one of only two counties in the state where judges have allowed such adoptions.
"Now I think it's very clear that if a couple of the same sex choose to go out and adopt the child ... that homosexual couples can adopt children," said Jim Lea, a Wilmington domestic law specialist who was one of Boseman's attorneys in the custody case. "To say that a couple should not be able to adopt a child because they're gay, on that reason alone, is just plain wrong."
State law does not specifically allow or prevent adoptions by gays or lesbians. Boseman's adoption, as well as a couple hundred others like it over the past five years, was possible because a handful of judges waived certain provisions of the state law governing adoption.
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To try to win full custody of the child, Boseman's former partner, Melissa Jarrell, argued that a gay person cannot adopt his or her partner's child.
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