Crystal Hendrix and partner Leigh Smith spend time with their children. (June 14, 2012/FOX Carolina)
ASHEVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina) -
An adoption ban is at the center of a heated debate in North Carolina after a law threatens to break up families.
The American Civil Liberties Union, along with six North Carolina couples, has filed a federal lawsuit against the state's law that prevents one partner in an unmarried couple from adopting their partner's biological or adopted child.
One of the same-sex couples that filed the lawsuit lives in Asheville with their two children, after spending time traveling across the world before settling down to start a family.
Building magical block towers with 2-year-old Quinn and 8-month-old Joe now takes the place of exotic trips to China and other countries. But Crystal Hendrix and her partner, Leigh Smith, don't mind. In fact, they love every moment.
"Even the smallest thing is better than the most incredible trip I ever took in my life," said Hendrix.
Hendrix and Smith became a couple more than seven years ago and then started a family. Hendrix gave birth to Quinn and Joe, but a North Carolina law doesn't recognize Smith as a legal parent.
"If we had that second parent adoption, it would secure our family," said Hendrix.
They're fighting for what they call their rights and the rights of their children. They said they fear the worst every day.
"I fear if there's a medical emergency whether or not I can take him to the hospital, whether or not they'll let me in," said Smith.
Smith said she's just as much a mother as her partner.
"I'm with the kids, I'm taking care of the kids and the state doesn't recognize that, and it hurts," said Smith.
The lawsuit states the current ban on second parent adoptions is unconstitutional.
"They have two parents that care for them, but the law treats one of their parents as a stranger," said Chris Brook.
Brook is the legal director with the ACLU of North Carolina.
"We just think that it would be better if second parent adoptions were permitted in the state," said Brook.
Both Hendrix and Smith say they're committed not only to one another but to the fight for their rights and to the rights of their children.
North Carolina used to recognize second parent adoptions, but back in 2010, the state Supreme Court ruled them illegal for both straight and gay couples.
Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All Rights Reserved.
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