Now that Pennsylvania recognizes same-sex marriages, same-sex partners can also benefit from the simpler process of a kinship or step-parent adoption. This means no home study is required. The adopting parent would still complete the requisite background checks. At the adoption hearing the court will verify that all requirements for an adoption have been met. The adopting parent(s) should be prepared to indicate their understanding of the responsibility they are taking on as parents.
Today marked the completion of my first same-sex step-parent adoption. Prior to May 2014, a same sex couple had to follow the steps for second-parent adoption which required a home study as opposed to a step-parent adoption which did not. However, in a decision rendered May 20, 2014, the Honorable John E. Jones, III, sitting for the US District Court in the Middle District on the case of Whitewood v. Michael Wolf, ruled that two of Pennsylvania's laws regarding marriage were unconstitutional on the basis that they violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Now that Pennsylvania recognizes same-sex marriages, same-sex partners can also benefit from the simpler process of a kinship or step-parent adoption.
Last month the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional as it violates the Fifth Amendment in failing to provide due process for all. DOMA was initially enacted in 1996 and provided that the federal government could refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted under state laws. This resulted in same-sex couples being denied federal marriage benefits available to heterosexual couples including, but not limited to, insurance benefits for government employees, social security survivors' benefits, evaluating financial aid eligibility and filing joint tax returns.