Many gay and lesbian couples build their families through adoption. If you are considering the same, you are in very good company. According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation there are an estimated 2 million LGBT adults in the U.S. who want to parent, many via adoption.
Domestic adoption includes three pathways, public agency adoption (from foster care), private agency adoption, and independent private adoption which is facilitated through an attorney.
Intercountry adoption refers to traveling out of the United States to grow your family. U.S. federal law does not prohibit LGBT U.S. citizens or same sex couple from being adoptive parents. However, some foreign countries do not permit LGBT individuals or same sex couples to adopt. Keep this in mind if you choose to adopt internationally. Refer to the Department of State Country Information section for eligibility requirements for specific countries.
Choosing a Placing Agency
Once you are ready to take the plunge in growing your family through adoption, and you know whether you want to adopt close to home or travel across the globe, your next big decision is finding an LGBT friendly adoption agency that is right for you.
Research! Research! Research!
Did we mention research? Whether you work with a local agency, a private attorney, or one that specializes in international adoptions, it is vital to choose a professional that is experienced in adoption and is open to gay couples. During the initial interview, speak with the professional and ask specific questions about how LGBT friendly they are. Ask how many same-sex couples they have worked with in the past. Do they provide counseling and support for LGBT parents and their children? Are they familiar with laws pertaining to LGBTQI+ adoptive parents?
One of the best resources in your journey to find a placement agency is connecting with other LGBT adoptive families through support groups for gay adoptive parents. These groups have boots-on-the-ground knowledge regarding gay-friendly adoption agencies and what to look for in an adoption professional. The bottom line is you want to find an agency you are comfortable with who you will be closely partnered with through what can easily be the most emotional and monumental time in your life.
Announcing You're Adopting
You and your partner are now all in. You're adopting! In a perfect world of sunshine and kittens, everyone you love will share in your excitement. In a perfect world. As hopeful and excited as you are, the reaction from loved ones may not reach the same level of enthusiasm. That's ok. That's normal. They are processing everything within a few minutes that you have had months to process. Because they love you they may have initial concerns about financial and legal issues. Child care. Life balances.
The best way to prepare for telling your loved ones that you are adopting is to anticipate all the questions they may ask. Some questions may not be appropriate or sensitive to the process, but give those who ask grace. It is at this time you are the biggest advocate for the child you may have yet to meet by educating those you love about adoption. Above all else, protect your heart if some still question your decision. Help them understand how strongly you feel about this and ask for respect even if they don't agree.
Welcome to Parenthood
The question is sometimes asked what effect having LGBT parents have on children. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, current research shows that children with gay and lesbian parents do not differ from children with heterosexual parents in their emotional development or in relationships with peers and adults. There are additional challenges, however. Some LGBT families face discrimination in their communities, and children may be bullied or teased by their peers. You as their parent can help your child cope with these pressures in the following way, according to AACAP:
- •Preparing your child to handle questions and comments about their background or family
- •Allowing for communication and discussions appropriate to your child's age and maturity level
- •Helping your child come up with and practice appropriate responses to teasing and mean remarks
- •Using books, websites, and movies that show children in LGBTQI+ families
- •Consider having a support network for your child
- •Consider living in a community where diversity is more accepted
Keep in mind, all children, regardless of their parent's sexual orientation, experience good and bad times. They are not more likely than children of heterosexual parents to develop behavioral or emotional problems. The journey to grow your family through adoption is not for the faint of heart. You will experience a whole new level of soul searching regarding you as a couple as well as you as an individual. In the end, it is a beautiful process shared by those you choose to let in. Embrace it with that incredible heart of yours!
LGBTQ Parent Adoption
Frequently Asked Questions From LGBTQ+ Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents
Books for Kids with LGBT Parents
Center for Adoption Support and Education