Jenner & Block

Firm Wins Relief for Lesbian Woman Seeking Adoption Rights

Jenner & Block won a victory for an Alabama woman seeking adoption rights to three children she had in  a now-terminated relationship.  On December 14, the US Supreme Court granted relief for the woman, known in documents as V.L., from an earlier ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that declared her adoption “void.”  The relief suspends the Alabama decision and means that V.L. will be able to  have visitation pending the Court’s consideration of her case.

V.L. adopted the children in Georgia and raised them from birth.  The couple eventually broke up.  V.L. then sought visitation rights in Alabama; E.L. opposed her request, arguing that the Georgia adoption was invalid in Alabama.  In September 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court issued an order refusing to recognize V.L.’s Georgia adoption and declaring it “void.”  At issue is whether Alabama violated the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution by not respecting the Georgia court’s adoption ruling. 

Partners Paul M. Smith and Adam G. Unikowsky joined the National Center for Lesbian Rights in filing the request to “recall and stay” last month.  According to the request, “V.L. requests such relief because the Alabama Supreme Court's decision has effectively prevented her from having any contact with her adoptive minor children, causing irreparable harm to the parent-child relationship.”

The team also filed a petition for certiorari in the case.  Mr. Smith is quoted in the Washington Blade observing that the relief may be a sign that the Court will decide to accept the case.

“Under the Supreme Court’s standards for stays, that is a key factor. So, hopefully, yes,” he says.

Other media outlets reporting on the case include The National Law Journal (subscription required), Ameri Publications and the Dallas Voice.