Having faith in full faith and credit: Finstuen, adar, and the quest for interstate same-sex parental recognition

Joseph A. Fraioli, University of Iowa College of Law


In 2011, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rendered a holding in Adar v. Smith that allowed Louisiana to refuse to fully recognize a New York adoption decree on the grounds that the adoptive parents-a gay couple-would not have been able to legally adopt in Louisiana. The Fifth Circuit's decision directly conflicts with a 2007 decision by the Tenth Circuit, Finstuen v. Crutcher, which held that the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution requires that states recognize and evenhandedly apply their own laws to sister-state adoption decrees, even if such decrees would be invalid in that state or frustrate that state's public policy. This Note examines the circuit split and advocates that the Supreme Court adopt the Tenth Circuit's rationale. Doing so would give effect to the Full Faith and Credit Clause's purpose and ensure that same-sex families receive the same interstate adoptive rights and protections as heterosexual families.