For same-sex couples, the legal nuances of a family continue to be more complicated than the parental rights for heterosexual couples. Though same-sex couples put in the same effort, love and support to raise their children, the legal parent role can sometimes get in the way of doing what is best for your child. 

In both Mississippi and Tennessee, legal parentage holds important power. It states who has the ability to make decisions about your child’s health care and education. It also helps clarify who will care for your child in the unfortunate event of a death or divorce. 

Depending on your situation, there are a few ways to establish parentage in same-sex families. 

Can my partner and I both appear on the official birth certificate? 

In the states of Mississippi and Tennessee, as well as across the country, birth certificates can list two mothers or two fathers. In some surrogacy or international adoption situations, you may receive an initial birth certificate listing the birth parents. You can then seek a final birth certificate to list the appropriate parent’s names. 

While the birth certificate can certainly help to establish parentage, many same-sex couples feel more comfortable putting further legal measures in place. The birth certificate can act as strong evidence of parentage, but unmarried couples sometimes run into trouble trying to tease out legal parentage based on the birth certificate alone after a divorce or death in the family. 

Can my partner or I adopt our child through second parent adoption? 

If you and your partner are married, the parent who did not contribute biologically to the child may receive legal parenthood through second parent adoption. Similar to stepparent adoption, second parent adoption removes the legal parenthood of the biological sperm donor or surrogate and confers parental rights and responsibilities to the adoptive parent. 

Second parent adoption for same-sex parents has a stronger foundation in Tennessee than in Mississippi. In either case, you and your partner must be married in order to pursue adoption.