Adoption and the LGBTQ+ Community

Adoption and the LGBTQ+ Community

Adoption and the LGBTQ Community

Approximately 114,000 same-sex couples in the US are raising children. As many as 21% of those couples are raising adopted children and almost 3% of them are fostering a child. In 2016, an estimated 705,000 United States households were headed by a same-sex couple. Over 65,000 adopted children and 14,000 foster children live with LGBTQ+ parents. Check out these additional overview stats:

  • All 50 states have now moved to make adoption by LGBTQ+ parents legal
  • Same-sex couples are 7-10 times more likely than heterosexual couples to be raising an adopted or foster child
  • Sixty percent of LGBTQ+ adoptions are transracial

Keep in mind that much of this data is compiled on gay and lesbian adoption since little information is available on adoption by bi-sexuals, transgender and those who identify as queer or gender nonconforming.

While we have seen large shifts in acceptance of gay and lesbian adoption in recent years, discrimination still exists. Currently, only 21 states include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination laws. 52% of the LGBTQ+ population lives in one of the 29 states that do not have inclusive sexual orientation non-discrimination laws. In a 2011 national survey of 158 gay and lesbian adoptive parents, nearly half reported experiencing bias or discrimination from a child welfare worker or birth family member during the adoption process. Also, although gays and lesbians are facing less discrimination, significantly more resistance exists to adoptions by transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

Acceptance of LGBTQ+ people adopting is increasing rapidly, especially for gays and lesbians. In fact, many gay dads tell us that they believe their sexual orientation worked in their favor when adopting an infant domestically because some birth moms wanted to remain their child’s “only mother”.

Our mission at Creating a Family is to educate and support these families because, as with all families, children do best with parents that are prepared and educated.

Types of Gay and Lesbian Adoptions
  • Single: an unmarried person adopts a child
  • Joint Adoption: a married or unmarried gay couple petitions to adopt a child
  • Second Parent Adoption: one parent adopts as a single and then the second parent petitions to adopt the child and share full parental responsibilities
  • Step-Parent: After a legal marriage the second parent can adopt the child of their partner
Legality of LGBTQ+ Adoption

We thank the good folks at the Movement Advancement Project for these Maps of Foster and Adoption Laws.

Additional Resources for LGBTQ+ Families
We recognize that many LGBTQ+ families need additional resources beyond the adoptive and foster parenting education and support we provide here at Here are several organizations that specifically serve the LGBTQ+ parent community:

How Do Kids Raised By LGBTQ+ Parents Fare?
Same-sex parents are not a generic group and making generalizations is no easier with LGBTQ parents than with heterosexual and cisgender parents. However, we can look to the research, which almost universally finds that children with LGBTQ parents compare about the same as children with heterosexual or cisgender parents on a range of psychosocial measures of adjustment.

If you are interested in this topic, listen to this Creating a Family radio podcast with Dr. Abbie Goldberg, researcher and author of Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children: Research on the Family Life Cycle, or our interview with one of the leading researchers on this topic — Dr. Susan Golombok, author of Modern Families: Parents and Children in New Family Forms.

Should LGBTQ+ Parents Use an Adoption Agency or an Adoption Attorney?
If you are considering foster care adoption, you will work with either the state foster care agency or with a private agency with a contract to place foster children. In our experience, most people report getting better pre and post-adoption support when using a private agency that finds homes for kids in foster care.

If you are considering domestic infant adoption you have a choice between using an adoption agency or an adoption attorney. Some agencies specifically or subtly prohibit placement with members of the LGBTQ+ community, but more and more are open to working with LGBTQ+ families (especially lesbian and gay), and many actively solicit them. Almost all adoption attorneys are open to working with LGBTQ+ parents, but you will usually have to do more work on your own to find an expectant mother considering adoption.

In most domestic infant adoption, the expectant mother or couple selects the adoptive parents and we have seen a significant shift in acceptance of gay dads and lesbian moms by expectant mothers, especially gay dads. However, not all pregnant women who are considering adoption will be open to LGBTQ+ adoptive parents, so there are some advantages to working with an agency that has access to a larger pool of prospective birth mothers.

Statistics are hard to come by, but research suggests that 60% of the adoption agencies in the US accept applications from same-sex couples, which means that 40% of adoption agencies have written or unwritten policies prohibiting or discouraging placing children with gays, lesbians, bisexuals, or transgender persons. It is best to choose an agency at the beginning that does not discriminate against you, because once you have invested time and money with an agency, your options are fewer. We provide you with the Top Ten Tips for Finding a Gay or Lesbian-Friendly Adoption Agency or Adoption Attorney. Of course, acceptance of gay prospective parents is not the only criteria you should consider. Follow our 3 step process for choosing an adoption agency to find the right one for you.

Creating a Family has several other resources on LGBTQ+ adoption. A few we think you will find particularly helpful are:

Many more Creating a Family interviews with experts, blogs, and fact sheets on LGBTQ+ adoption can be found at the icons below.

Sources: Creating a Family radio shows below,, Cornell University 2017;  The Williams Institute 2010, The Williams Institute 2018, Donaldson Adoption Institute 2013

Additional Resources

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Creating a Family Podcasts on LGBTQ Adoption

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Creating a Family Blogs on LGBTQ Adoption

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Creating a Family Factsheets, Tips on LGBTQ Adoption