Adoption Month: The Pattersons
November is National Adoption Month, the perfect time to turn the spotlight to adoption equality in Arizona.
We created Project Jigsaw to connect children with loving, permanent homes. The project is joining with elected officials and providers to secure equal opportunity for the 18,000 children in state care and the families that want to give them a happy, hopeful future.
The Pattersons’ story: If you could make equal rights history, would you do it?
When Dr. Kevin Patterson and Dr. David Patterson fostered and made the decision to add two beautiful girls to their family, they had no idea that they would become leaders in the fight for equal adoption rights. As plaintiffs in the court case that brought marriage equality to Arizona, the couple was instrumental in bringing equal opportunity to the state long before the nation caught, up as a whole. However, they struggled with Arizona’s adoption laws.
The Pattersons were challenged to find an adoption agency that would treat them with dignity, and they were surprised by Arizona’s neglectful laws in regard to the inclusion of LGBTQ couples. (Read more.)
After finding Arizona’s Children Association, an agency that provided them with equal opportunity, Kevin and David were introduced to two sisters in need of a loving family. Their dreams of being parents were finally coming true, but the road to adoption was far from easy.
The couple thought they could both be legally certified to adopt the girls, but they were sadly mistaken. At the time, Arizona law didn’t recognize LGBTQ couples as joint guardians, which diminished the wholeness of the family they were trying to create.
If the negligence of the law threatened your family, would you fight for their protection?
If something were to happen to Kevin, guardianship wouldn’t automatically be passed on to his husband, David. Instead, Kevin had to list his mother as next-of-kin. If something were to happen to her, the children would be put back into the foster system, even though their other dad, David, could take care of them. Because of backwards laws, the family would be torn apart.
LGBTQ parents are faced with difficulty and discrimination
Although marriage equality became national law in the country last year, the Pattersons struggled to add David to all of the girls’ legal documents. Even the simplest parental tasks were a challenge without shared legal guardianship – David couldn’t even pick up the girls from school.
After years of fighting, the Pattersons are finally both listed as parents on their two daughters’ birth certificates. However, it wasn’t easy to obtain their parental rights.
Change will not take place without community support
The Pattersons’ story was instrumental to our creation of Project Jigsaw. The collaborative community effort is dedicated to connecting children to families by providing access to resources, educating the public and influencing public policy.