The Legal Side of LGBT Adoptions
With the progressive legislation recently passed, LGBT couples now have the fundamental right to be married, which signals a huge shift in the realm of adoption. Birth moms have unique preferences, creating opportunities for LGBT couples to adopt. Fortunately, the April 2016 mandate has allowed gay adoption to be legal in all 50 states.
In fact, over 16,000 same sex couples are raising an approximately 22,000 adopted children in the US according to a study conducted by The Williams Institute.
Before these couples can provide loving homes for children, however, there are many legal aspects to consider. Here are a few insights about how same-sex parents often approach adoption and what restrictions to be aware of.
How Same-Sex Parents Typically Adopt
A popular option for married same-sex couples is joint adoption, which means they will both adopt the child at the same time. All states allow married couples to petition for joint adoption, but it may be difficult to adopt jointly for unmarried partners. There are many ways through which couples can proceed with joint adoption including agencies, independent attorneys, or international adoptions. Like any other adoption, the method chosen depends on the individuals and situation involved.
Second Parent Adoption
For some people, second parent or step parent adoption is another option. If physically able, one parent can donate sperm or a donor egg with a surrogate third party. That parent would then be the official and legitimate birth parent. Afterward, the second partner would adopt the child to become a legal parent. This process is highly recommended in case the adoptive parents move to a location that doesn’t recognize the non-birth parent’s relationship.
Laws and Responsibilities Surrounding Same-Sex Adoption
Since April 2016, the Supreme Court mandated gay adoption to be legal in all 50 states; however, it’s still necessary to look into local laws. Unfortunately, adoption laws still vary state to state as far as who are considered parents for same sex couples or civil unions, but same-sex adoptive parents should know that they do have a right to adopt. States that have explicitly stated their support for LGBT parents include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.
It’s recommended that same-sex parents know about state and local laws and customs regarding LGBT adoption before undergoing the process. Non-biological parents usually go through with second parent adoptions if choosing to stay unmarried because “the adoption serves as extra protection if the parties travel to a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex relationships, and also means that the federal government should recognize the parent-child relationship for purposes of Social Security and other federal benefits,” according to this article.
As with any family, adoption is a beautiful, life-changing process, but it requires plenty of research and hard work. If you’re a same-sex couple looking to adopt, take the time to evaluate your options and understand your rights. AdoptHelp has brought together many same-sex adoptive parents with their children, which you can check out here. We provide many resources for LGBT couples and if you have any questions about adopting, please don’t hesitate to ask.