Nancy G. Maxwell, Astrid A.M. Mattijssen, and Charlene Smith

The purpose of this article is to examine the recent developments concerning same-gender parent adoptions in the Unites States and the Netherlands, comparing the different routes these changes have taken. The first section of the article examines the present status of the case law in both countries. It begins with an analysis of the court decisions in the United States, where case law now makes it legal in numerous states for gays and lesbians to adopt, either as 'co-parents' or as 'strangers' of the child. The section also includes an analysis of the recent Dutch case before the highest court in the Netherlands, the Hoge Raad, involving a request for a co-parent adoption by two women who were raising their children together as a family. The next section of the article sets out the current status of Dutch law as it affects gay and lesbian co-parents, including present adoption laws, joint parental authority, and registered partnerships. The article's fourth section examines proposed legislation in the two countries concerning the right of same-gender couples, and homosexuals in general, to adopt. The article then concludes with a comparison and analysis of the Dutch and American legal histories concerning same-gender co-parent adoptions. This section examines the differences in the two countries' legal systems, the social status of homosexuals, the social acceptance of adoption, and each country's underlying assumptions about family law. The article concludes by pointing out how recognition of same-gender co-parent adoption is in the best interest of the children raised by same-gender couples.

Cite as: Nancy G. Maxwell, Astrid A.M. Mattijssen, and Charlene Smith, Legal Protection for All the Children: Dutch-American Comparison of Lesbian and Gay Parent Adoptions, vol 3.1 ELECTRONIC JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE LAW, (August 1999), <>

1. Introduction
2. Case law
2.1 American case law
2.1.1 Co-parent adoptions
2.1.2 Stranger adoptions
2.2 Dutch case law
3. Current status of Dutch legislation
3.1 Adoption laws
3.2 Joint parental authority
3.3 Registered partnerships
4. Proposed legislation concerning same-gender co-parent adoptions
4.1 Dutch legislative proposal - Allowing same-gender co-parent adoptions
4.2 American legislative proposals - Anti-homosexual backlash
5. Comparison and analysis of the Dutch and American legal history concerning same-gender co-parent adoptions
5.1 Differences in legal systems
5.2 Differences in the social status of homosexuals
5.3 Differences in the social status of adoption
5.4 Differences in the underlying assumptions about family law
6. Conclusion
Appendix: Homosexual and Same-Gender Parent Adoption Articles

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