Adoption and the LGBT Community
Gay and lesbian adoption is increasing in the US. Approximately 16,000 same-sex couples are raising more than 22,000 adopted children in the US and 2 million gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders have expressed an interest in adopting.
While gay adoption is controversial to some, LGBT couples and singles are four times more likely to adopt than heterosexual couples or singles, and six times more likely to be fostering children from state foster care systems. 4% of all adopted children in the US are being raised by LGBT parents. Childrearing among same-sex couples is highest in the South, Mountain West, and Midwest areas of the US.
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.
- Single: an unmarried person adopts a child
- Joint Adoption: a married or unmarried gay couple petitions to adopt a child
- Second Parent Adoption: one parents adopts as a single and then the second parent petitions to adopt the child and share full parental responsibilities
Some states specifically allow gays and lesbians to adopt, while others have explicit restrictions on adoptions by gays and lesbians. Other states don’t allow same sex couples to jointly adopt, but do not prohibit gay and lesbian singles from adopting. The vast majority of states do not mention homosexuality or sexual orientation in their adoption statutes, therefore legality and what is allowed is determined by case law or court rulings. Few states have statutes that specifically address second parent adoptions. The Human Rights Campaign maintains a current map of the gay adoption laws by state.
Unless there is a specific state statute allowing or disallowing adoption by gays and lesbians or a ruling by the state Supreme Court, you are somewhat at the mercy of the family court judge that will be hearing your adoption case. Acceptance of LGBT adoptions is increasing, especially with single or second parent adoptions. The best way to find out about where you live is to ask gay friendly adoption agencies or other gay adoptive families in your area.
In a strange twist on logic and common sense, it is possible for marriage to work against your efforts to adopt. It depends on the marriage recognition laws, adoption statutes and case laws in your state. Contact gay parenting support groups and see what others have found and then contact an adoption attorney. Make sure that the attorney specializes in adoption.
If you are considering domestic infant adoption you have a choice between using an adoption agency or an adoption attorney. In our experience, adoption attorneys are less likely to discriminate against gays, but you will usually have to do more work on your own to find an expectant mother considering adoption.
Not all pregnant women who are considering adoption will be open to LGBT 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 from our experience, we estimate that 30-40% of adoption agencies have written or unwritten policies prohibiting or discouraging placing children with gays, lesbians, bisexuals, or transgenders. It is best to choose an agency at the beginning that does not discriminate against you, since 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 resources on LGBT adoption. A few we think you will find particularly helpful are:
- Adoption Options for the LGBT Community (1 hr radio interview with experts)
- Adoption 101 for Gays and Lesbians (8 min. video)
- Issues Facing Gay Dads (1 hr radio interview with panel of gay fathers)
More Creating a Family radio interviews with experts, videos, blogs, fact sheets, and Q and A’s with Experts on LGBT adoption can be found at the icons below.Sources: Creating a Family radio shows below, www.census.gov, williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu