Last week, a Petition for Discretionary Review was filed in the North Carolina Supreme Court regarding the case of Boseman v. Jarrell. State Senator Julia Boseman (D-New Hanover) and her former lesbian partner, Melissa Jarrell, are still wrapped up in a custody battle over a child born to Jarrell by artificial insemination during the relationship. The case raises serious concerns about the future of same-sex adoption and the sustainability of marriage statutes in North Carolina, Tami Fitzgerald of the Christian Action League clarifies:
“Because Melissa Jarrell and Senator Boseman cannot marry under North Carolina law (same-sex couples are prohibited from marrying), they did not qualify for a step-parent adoption. Therefore, the adoption was performed as a “direct placement” adoption, which mandates the severance of parental rights and responsibilities of the birth parent and substitutes the adoptive parents. Durham District Court Judge Marcia Morey, however, ruled that Melissa Jarrell was allowed to waive the severance of her parental rights, issuing an adoption decree that “does not sever the relationship of parent and child between the individual adopted and that individual’s biological mother.” The ruling was clearly contrary to the language of the adoption statutes, which mandates severance of parental rights by the birth parent.”
Senator Boseman and Jarrell ended their lesbian relationship after the adoption was granted causing Boseman to seek joint custody of Jarrell’s now six-year old son. Eventually the ruling was appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and on August 18, the appeals court issued a unanimous decision upholding Boseman’s adoption of the child, declaring her a “legal parent.” The Court concluded that the adoption decree, “even if erroneous or contrary to law, was not void.” When this story first broke over the summer, newspapers reported that around 400 of “direct placement” adoptions have been performed in Durham and Orange Counties signaling the gravity of judicial misconduct.
Now, attorneys for Jarrell have filed Petition for the North Carolina Supreme Court to hear the case and answer the question of whether same-sex adoptions are permitted under current North Carolina law:
“They argue that the Court of Appeals’ decision creates chaos within the adoption system as to whether same-sex and unmarried heterosexual couples may adopt children in North Carolina, whether rogue judges like the ones in Durham and Orange Counties should grant these adoptions not expressly permitted by North Carolina law, whether state agencies are required to recognize such adoptions, and whether natural parents may waive the statutory mandate that their parental rights are severed by the adoption.”
At this point, Jarrell and her attorneys will wait to hear whether the Supreme Court chooses to hear the case and answer these critical questions or decide to let the Court of Appeals’ decision stand and accept “erroneous law.”
Click here to read a full review and chronology of the custody dispute.