Frank is an openly gay man. He is a business owner and has a long-term partner he has been living with for the past 14 years in a home that they own. They are financially stable and do not require aid from the state or federal governments. Frank is an uncle to a four-year-old boy. His brother, the boy’s father, is a drug addict and presently incarcerated. At one point, DCFS took the boy out of the father’s custody and placed him with his grandmother. Frank and his partner helped the grandmother raise the boy for the last two years. They have an established relationship and bond with the young man. Unfortunately, recently the grandmother passed away from cancer and the boy is now in state custody. The boy’s father wants Frank to have custody. DCFS has evaluated Frank and his home and has determined that Frank and the home are fit to raise the boy. Frank is the boy’s blood relative. There are no other living or competent blood relatives to raise the boy.
So this seems like a no-brainer right? Frank should be given custody and should raise him, right? That is not the case. Frank was denied approval by DCFS. How can this be you ask? Well, here is the wrinkle (injustice). Remember that Frank is a gay man, a characteristic that fortunately by itself does not disqualify him from receiving custody of his nephew and raising him. However, also remember that Frank has found his way into a stable, long-term relationship with his partner and they live together, i.e., they cohabitate. This fact, that Frank and his partner are in a stable, long-term relationship and live together, disqualifies them from receiving custody of and raising his nephew under Utah Code Ann. 78-30-1.
Yes, because Frank and his partner are in a stable, long-term relationship, one that happens to be a gay relationship, they are not allowed to adopt and raise Frank’s nephew, even though the biological father wishes Frank and his partner to do so and despite the fact that Frank, as a single gay man, could adopt the boy if only he were not in a stable, long-term relationship with his partner. So, Frank’s crime here is that he was able to form a stable, long-term relationship with his partner. As a result, guess what happens to Frank’s nephew: he goes into the foster care system and goes to live with strangers until one day he might be adopted.
To me, this makes no sense and demonstrates why Utah’s policy prohibiting gay adoption simply does not make sense. This policy, in this case at least, will tear a family apart and contradict the parental wishes of the biological father.