Category Archives: adoption laws

How to Spot An Adoption Scam

When we think of adoption, we think of someone choosing to grow their family. We think of the expectant mother who wants to give her child a better life. We think of a child receiving love from all angles. Rarely, do we consider a person taking advantage of someone’s need or want to adopt. It is sad to say, but adoption scams happen all the time! Scary, right?! But don’t worry, we are going to give you helpful tips on how to spot warning signs and red flags down below.

Warning Signs

One of the first warning signs you could receive is a vague or questionable email address and subject title. If you receive an email with a subject titled “Baby waiting for you!”, an eyebrow and a question should be raised. If the email address ends in,,, or anything other than the company’s name, make sure to do your research on the facilitator or agency. Also, beware of generic messages. These are emails that lack specifics. You could be one of many receiving the same message. The usual scammer makes their first point of contact via email.

A sure-fire warning sign is the recipient requesting money. Money should never be exchanged without discussing it with an adoption professional first. At this point, all communication should cease until you speak with an adoption professional. The recipient may also request a plane ticket. This is common for overseas scams. The recipient may explain they want to have their baby in your country. Only problem is the baby may not actually exist or the recipient does not plan to complete the adoption process.

An expecting mother approaching you about adopting her twins could tug at your heart strings. Unfortunately, this is a classic scam that happens around major, sentimental holidays like Christmas, Mother’s Day, Easter, etc. Scammers rely on these holidays to lower your guard. They hope you want a child bad enough that you will agree to the situation quickly with little to no objection.


Red Flags

  • Pressure to sign documents you don’t understand.
  • If any guarantees are made.
  • If they rush to the topic of you paying expenses.
  • If they refuse to meet with the adoption professional or agency.
  • If agency or facilitator refuses to return your phone calls or emails.
  • If birth mother doesn’t provide proof of pregnancy.
  • If agency or facilitator says they will be in touch with you instead of giving their phone number.
  • If anyone is selling a baby online for money.



Whether you choose to go through an agency or use an adoption professional make sure to do your research. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the company or the professional. Learn your legal rights to adoption. You can join groups online that discuss tips on how to avoid adoption fraud. If you are a prospective adoptive parent here are a few ways to avoid “Birth Mother Scams”. Set up a phone conversation. Get confirmation of pregnancy. You can request a copy of her ultrasound. If she can’t send it or doesn’t want to, find out if your adoption professional has the right paper work to request the ultrasound. If she refuses to speak with your adoption professional and refuses to send an ultrasound, things may not be as they seem. When in doubt always contact your agency or adoption professional. They have more experience in these situations and can help you navigate through the process. Adoption professionals don’t have any emotional attachments to the situation, so they can ask the expectant mother the hard questions.

Relax & Breathe…

Don’t let the possibility of a scam scare you away from adoption. Adoption is a great way to expand your family. Just keep in mind, never jump into a situation that seems too good to be true. Do your own research on whomever you choose to use as an agency or as an adoption professional. Take the time to learn adoption laws in the state you reside. Find adoption information meetings that you can attend to familiarize yourself with the process. It’s unfortunate, scams like these make adoptive parents leery of posting their profiles, specifically on the internet. Remember, that the internet is just a tool being used. Scams can happen at any time, on any platform, and can involve professionals. I can’t say it enough… DO YOUR RESEARCH!


Second Parent Adoption: LGBTQ Edition


What is Second Parent Adoption?

As defined by the Human Rights Campaign, “a second-parent adoption allows a second parent to adopt a child without the “first parent” losing any parental rights. In this way, the child comes to have two legal parents. It also typically grants adoptive parents the same rights as biological parents in custody and visitation matters.”

Very often people hear of second parent adoption when referring to step-parents adopting their spouse’s children from previous relationships. However, second parent adoption can occur for other parents as well.

What does Second Parent Adoption mean for LGBTQ couples?LGBT ISTOCK - LGBT FAMILY 2 (1) cropped

Second parent adoption gives the same parental rights to both parties in same-sex parenting. Take for example a lesbian couple. One is pregnant and gives birth to their child through a variety of avenues such as artificial insemination. The other does not have biological ties to the child in such a case, but through second parent adoption would have the rights of the biological parent.

The HRC explains… “for same-sex couples, it is often the case that there is only one legal parent even though two people may equally parent the child and think of themselves as co-parents. This is because the status as a legal parent is automatically conveyed to the parent who has a biological connection to a child, such as a biological mom or biological dad. Similarly, while some couples raise an adopted child together, only one of them may have officially become the adoptive parent because some agencies prohibit same-sex couples from adopting together but permit an LGBTQ individual to do so.”

According to

  • “Parents in legally recognized same-sex relationships can petition for stepparent adoption statewide; relies on access to marriage or relationship recognition in 50 states + D.C.”
  • “LGBT parents can petition for second-parent adoption statewide in 15 states + D.C.”

aa-male-gay-coupleWhile many second parent adoptions with same-sex parents involve a biological tie to the child, it is not always the case. Some states allow one parent to adopt a child they are not biologically related to. Then, the other parent can pursue second parent adoption. Other states allow same-sex couples to go through the process together from start to finish.

See more on standards for each state on this interactive map.

Second parent adoption allows both individuals the same rights as parents.

What is the Process for Second Parent Adoption?

Different states have different laws and procedures regarding second parent adoption. You can find out more about the process of your state here.

Is Second Parent Adoption Necessary or Fair for LGBTQ families?

Many people feel that their marriage/partnership and dedication to the child and home is what makes them a parent, not an official adoption. While many adoption agencies and professionals would agree this to be true, a second parent adoption can ensure the safety and well-being of the child.

In emergency cases that would leave the person who is the legal parent unable to care for the child, their partner would be able to continue caring for the child and retain legal rights as their parent. Second parent adoption also protects the rights of both partners in instances of separation or divorce. Or even the extreme case of death.

Adoptions From The Heart, a non-profit adoption agency headquartered in PA, saw this need first hand. Two same-sex couples hoping to adopt petitioned for the state to allow second parent adoption so that they could pursue a secure adoption through what was already an LGBTQ friendly agency. Of these families, one did end up losing a parent in a horrible plane crash. Thankfully, there were standards in place to keep the children safe with their other parent. You can read more about the couple and their journey here.

Although the label may feel unnecessary and even degrading, it can ensure the stability of your family and home. Second parent adoption is hopefully only the beginning for progressive parental rights for LGBTQ couples.


Finding the Best Attorney for your Adoption Journey

One of the best ways to learn more about working with an attorney in the adoption process is to get insight on some of the basics straight from the source. This resource from Adoptions From The Heart is an interview with an attorney, Debbie Spivack, on important elements of working with an attorney…

What is the attorney’s role in adoption?

An attorney advises clients on the legal options to achieve their goals in family planning, and helps them implement a plan which is safe, legally secure and designed to achieve permanency for a child in a healthy and safe home as early in their life as possible.  My role is pursuing my clients rights under laws of the state in question to achieve termination of parental rights and adoption finalization. Read more on the role of attorneys here.

Couple meeting with financial advisor

How can prospective adoptive parents find an attorney?

First I would say that adoption law is not about kissing babies all day!  The laws are complicated and there are many potential landmines only an attorney with specific adoption experience will recognize.  While adoptive parents may be inclined to ask their family lawyer to handle an adoption case, I would suggest the family find a lawyer with a wide array of experiences in adoption specifically.

computer-1185626_1280One good resource for finding an experienced adoption attorney is the website for the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, which is an invitation-only organization that requires its members to have substantial experience representing different parties in many kinds of adoptions.  We also have ethical responsibilities we must uphold to maintain our membership.

Also, just talk to adoptive families and adoption professionals and get references.


What should you look for in a good attorney?

I already mentioned diverse experience but I would specifically ask if that attorney has worked both private and agency cases, interstate cases, and represented different parties, such as adoptive parents, agencies, birth parents and children.  Ask them how many on a yearly basis.

I would also try to determine whether the attorney shares your values and goals, and is empathetic and understanding.  The adoption process requires working together when parties are at their most vulnerable.  You want to be sure your attorney can advocate on your behalf if things get tough, and who can offer you sound advice and guidance with an understanding what you may be feeling.

I would suggest selecting someone who is up to date on current law since adoption law is constantly evolving, not only on the state level, but sometimes on the federal level.  Make sure they value continuing education by attending conferences and speaking at conferences attended by their peers.


What is some advice you have for clients looking to adopt?choose-the-right-direction-1536336_1920

  • One size (process) does not fit all. Know yourselves and explore all options.
  • Define your goals up front and do research.
  • Pursue a course that is tolerable and achievable for you and your family.
  • Talk to someone willing to give objective advice, even if they don’t end up being your attorney.


What is one thing you wish more people knew about adoption in general?

For people who are not involved in adoption directly, I wish they would understand it is a deeply personal subject for all parties and does not lend itself to invasive questions or judgments

Share in their joy, offer support and allow them to achieve their dreams.


Anything else?

Pursue adoption from a child-centered mindset of becoming the best possible parent for a child who needs a family.  This mindset will help guide you through the process as an advocate for your future child and be excellent preparation for parenting!

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To find out more about the attorney who provided insight for this interview, visit this resource.

Adoption Laws and Requirements: Domestic Adoption Compared to International Adoption

sunset skiesAdoptive families come in all shapes and sizes. There are single parents, couples, same-sex couples and domestic partners. Some families already have birth or adopted children and others might just be beginning to grow their family. Requirements for the adoptive parents differ from state to state and country to country depending on where you are adopting from. One of the first dilemmas families face is whether to pursue domestic adoption or international adoption. There are many factors adoptive parents must consider which includes the wait time, children available, cost and legal concerns. There are also lot of myths about these two different adoption processes in which we wanted to clear up in this blog along with provide statistics and hard facts about both so that families are able to make the best choice that is right for their own family.

 The Requirements Needed to Adopt Domestically


In order to even think about adopting, it is important to remember that there are a lot of requirements that you will need to pass before any adoption agency will take you on as a client.

Age – Prospective parent(s) must be of legal age (21 years old) or older If you are adopting for a private adoption agency. the agency may have an age cutoff but not always. Be sure to check with the agency you are considering working with.

Physical Health – Prospective parents need to be in stable medical condition. If there is a history of serious or current chronic illness, a doctor’s letter indicating physical stability, ability to parent and expectation to live to a child’s majority (which is the age of 16). If there is a history of substance abuse, proof of rehabilitation is needed.

Emotional Health – Prospective parents need to be in stable emotional health. If there is current or history of psychiatric illness, a statement indicating emotional stability is needed. If there was or is use of medication, a doctor’s statement of current emotional stability and ability to parent a child is needed.

Criminal History – As part of the adoption home study, state and FBI clearances will be conducted. Should there be an arrest history, dispositions and personal statements of the incident are required. Rehabilitation will be evaluated, if appropriate. There are certain criminal charges that can prevent someone from being eligible to adopt.

Child Abuse History – All household members over the age of 18 will be asked to do a child abuse clearance for every state in the U.S. where they have lived for the past 5 years. A “finding” on this clearance may prevent someone from adopting.

Marital History – Each adoption agency and U.S. state has their own requirements, including the number of previous marriages and length of current marriage. Depending on the state, singles, same-sex and domestic partners may also be eligible adopt.

Financial Security – There is no specific income requirement. The adoptive family’s income and assets will be assessed to ensure they have the resources to raise a child. Proof of medical insurance for the child is also needed.

Home Environment – The home must be a safe and secure environment for a child, inside and out. Some U.S. states have specific space and safety requirements.

Adoption and Parenting – As part of the adoption home study, most prospective parents are asked to complete Adoptive Parent Education, including but not limited to the lifelong implications of adoption on the child and the family, attachment and bonding, sharing adoption with the child and others, open adoption, and medical, emotional and academic developmental issues.

It is important to remember that even though this is domestic adoption, the same laws and rules don’t apply for all fifty states. If you would like to find more information about a certain state, check out this awesome website that will allow you browse every state individually.

 Adopting Internationally, the Rules and Process

Adopting Internationally

Intercountry adoptions are governed by both the laws of the child’s home country and the laws of the United States. When you are adopting international, you must comply with THREE different sets of laws: U.S. federal law, the laws of the child’s country of birth, and the laws of your U.S. state of residence.

Age – parent(s) must be of legal age (21 years old) or older, some countries may have higher minimum requirements. Age cutoffs are agency and country specific.  Adopting as an older parent in an intercountry adoption might lead to adopting an older child.

Medical Health –For all adoptions, a doctor’s letter indicating physically stability, ability to parent and expectation to live to a child’s majority are required.  Prospective parents need to be in stable medical condition. Individual countries have limitations on medical history and current health. Many restrict adoptions to those with a history of cancer.

Emotional Health – Prospective parents need to be in stable emotional health. If there is current or history of psychiatric illness, a statement indicating you are emotionally stable is needed.

Criminal history – As part of the adoption home study, state and FBI clearances will be conducted. Should there be an arrest history, dispositions and personal statements of the incident will be needed. Rehabilitation, if appropriate, will be accessed. There are certain criminal charges that will prevent someone from adopting.

Child Abuse History – All household members over the age of 18 will be asked to do a child abuse clearance for every state in the U.S. and every country where they have lived for since the age of 18. A “finding” on this clearance may prevent you from adopting.

Marital History – Each country has their own requirements, including the number of previous marriages and length of current marriage. Some countries allow singles to adopt, however may limit the parent to adopting a child of the same gender. Unfortunately, the majority of international countries will not allow LGBT couples to adopt.

Financial Security – Some countries have specific income and asset requirements, which will be assessed as part of the adoption homestudy and documents for the dossier. Income and expenses must show the ability to meet a child’s needs.

Home Environment – The home must be a safe and secure environment for a child. Some U.S. states have specific space and safety requirements. In addition, some countries require proof of ownership.

Adoption and Parenting – As part of the adoption home study, prospective parents are asked to complete at least 10 hours of specific Adoptive Parent Education.

As you can see a lot of the requirements change depending on what country you are adopting from .That is why it is important to do your research on each country before deciding where you would like to adopt from. To see a breakdown of the rules and requirements in each country, you can go to

Important Areas to Consider as you Make the Decision Between a Domestic and International Adoption

Now that we talked about the requirements that need to be filled before choosing domestic or international adoption, we would like to go over the different factors that might help you and your family choose what option best fits your family.  Some of the more important questions to ask yourself are; How long do you want to wait? How much do you want to spend on your adoption? How important is it to adopt a newborn?  We would like to touch on the 5 most important topics that we think a family should think about before deciding between domestic and international adoption.

  1. Cost: Many mistakenly believe that international adoption costs far less than domestic adoption but that is very untrue. The different in cost between international and domestic adoption is one of the most common misconceptions. Both have them have similar costs typically ranging from $25,000-$50,000 but the costs are unique to each specific program and agency.
  • International Adoption Costs
    • Obtaining a Visa
    • Travel and hotel costs to a different country more than one time
  • Domestic Adoption Costs
    • Birth parent living expenses
    • Travel to different states depending on where the baby is born
  1. Waiting Time: The time it takes for an adoptive family to receive a child domestically or internationally depends on many factors. It is difficult to assess exact wait times for both adoption plans because it all depends on what agency you are working with and how open you are to various situations. For international adoption, the wait time depends on your families’ adoption plan as well as country-specific issues. For example, adopting a child from China may take more than four years while adopting a child from Russia can take less than a year.
  1. Child’s Age and Children Available: Because of all of travel and waiting you will have to do if you choose international adoption, it is very likely that you will be adopting an older infant, toddler or even a teenager, depending on the origin. According to the latest research by the National Council for Adoption, private domestic agency adoptions have risen steadily from 14,549 in 1982 to 20,254 in 2007 .While domestic adoption continues to grow, international adoption has decline significantly over the past several years.
  1. Medical Background: One of the biggest concerns when adopting internationally is that the medical background of the child is minimal. Social and medical histories will be provided on children whether you adopt domestically or internationally. Often within an international adoption, there is not much information even though the child is older because often the child has been abandoned and there is no information on his or her biological relatives. In a domestic adoption, you are often able to receive both an extensive social and medical history.
  2. Legal Concerns: A lot of the myths that we mentioned in the beginning of the blog come into play when speaking about legal concerns in adoption. This is why it is very important to research the unique legal issues involved in both adoption plans. For international adoption, each country has its own set of laws governing adoption that must be met. Some families have said one of their main reasons they chose international adoption is because they were concerned about openness and birthparents coming back to claim their child. The large majority of domestic adoptions are not revoked or disrupted and each state has their own set timeline on when the birth parents rights are terminated. It is important to research so you are fully aware of all the aspects when choosing your path to adoption.

As you can see there are many factors to consider and you may have a longer more personal list to explore. Remember whether choose either the international or domestic route, there are still additional choices within that path such as working with an agency or attorney or gender and age of child, etc. In addition to all the research and weighing the pros and cons, the decision ultimately comes down to what makes you feel the most comfortable and which option best fits your family.

Adopting As a Single Parent by Choice, Making Dreams into Reality!

Mother and Son, Single Parent Adoption

Raising a child as a single parent might be viewed by others as an “unconventional” life choice but to mothers and fathers who choose to do it on their own; they just want to make their dream into reality. Single men and women want to adopt a child for many of the same reasons that couples want to. They want to be a parent, have a child to love, want to give a child a home, pregnancy might not be an option, and the list could go on. There has been an increasing in single adoptive parents over the past few years and whatever the reasons leading them to adoption, their journey is something to be celebrated.

Many people hear the word “single parent” and automatically think that a tragedy or divorce caused their single status but that not always the case. There are many singles who make the choice to enter the world of parenthood.

The past few decades have seen an incredible increase in the number of families headed by single mothers. Unlike the stereotypical images of an un-wed, poverty-stricken, uneducated, and young teen or woman facing parenthood alone, an increasing number of successful, single well-educated professional women in their 30’s and 40’s are arriving at motherhood through adoption by choice. AFTH has quite a few singles, both men and women, who are looking to adopt.

“I am so excited to become a mother-something I knew I wanted from when I was just a little girl. Although having a biological child has not been a possibility for me, I decided that should not stop me from making my dreams into reality of becoming a parent.”-Hopeful single adoptive parent at AFTH

To read more about some of our single’s that are waiting to adopt, check out our website where you can read more into their profile books and learn about their journey and how they ended up deciding to adopt.

 Statistics of Single Parent Households in the US

Single parenthood is very common in the United States. Even today when 50% of U.S. children will spend some part of their childhoods in a single parent family, there is still contempt for single moms and dads. Did you know that more than 22 million children under the age of 21 are being raised in a single parent household? Here are just a few more appealing statistics.

  • About 28% of children worldwide live in a single-parent household.
  • In the United States, 80.6% of single parents are mothers. Among this percentage of single mothers: 45% of single mothers are currently divorced or separated, 1.7% are widowed, and 34% of single mothers never have been married.
  • 76% of custodial single mothers are gainfully employed and 85.1% of custodial single fathers are gainfully employed

 Even today when 50% of U.S. children will spend some part of their childhood in a single parent family, there are still often many misperceptions about single parenthood however times are changing and society is beginning to embrace the many different ways a family can be formed.

Adopting as a single father

 Statistics of Single Parent Adoption

Unfortunately years ago, if you had gone to an adoption agency as a single person and applied for a child, you would have been turned down. Now, thousands of children in the United States and other countries are living with single men and women who have chosen to become parents and who have been given the opportunity to provide a loving home for a child. Below are just some statistics about adoption and adopting as a single parent.

  •  Every state in the country currently allows single adults to adopt children.
  • Approximately 25 percent of adoptions of children with special needs are by single people.
  • In 2011 nearly 1/3 of adoptions from foster care we completed by unmarried individuals. This number includes adoptions from more than 13,000 single women and 1,400 single men.

Controversy of Single Parent Adoption

 Most single parents agree that the joy of bringing a child into your life far outweighs the challenges added as being a single parent. Single parents, whether through adoption or circumstance, do face unique aspects to parenting solely due to the fact that there is one of them as opposed to two. There can also be some benefits of single parenthood such as having less people to coordinate parenting decisions with. One of the biggest obstacles many single parents may face are the opinions and objections society might have. Sadly, there are some people who still believe that singles should not be allowed to adopt children. Here are just some arguments and opinions many single parents by choice have heard along the way.

  • A child needs two parents so that one can fill in for the other when one is too tired, sick, and so on.
  • A child needs to be raised by both a male and female parent
  • If a single parent becomes ill or dies, the child will be orphaned.
  • Due to the need to work to provide for the child, they cannot be an at-home parent and give the child the attention he/or she will need.
  • Single parents often live under poverty line and receive government assistance

 Finding a good support system through the way

With all of the opinions, arguments and judgments you will surely hear along the way during you adoption process as a single parent know that it is important to be strong in the decision you make and know that you can make your dream of parenthood true. To help, it is important to find a good support system, a network of people who care about you and who will be there for you both emotionally and physically when you need it.

We find that many of the prospective adoptive parents working with AFTH say that they often find additional support as they go through the adoption process. Adoption is a thread that can pull many people together throughout the journey. You may find friends and neighbors as well as other hopeful adoptive parents you meet through the agency classes and events that have a connection to adoption that you will gain as resources for support along the way.

Below are just some helpful organizations geared to single parents that can be there for you whether you have a question or just need someone to talk to that can relate to your situation.

One Step at a Time

All you need for a family is love, commitment and a sense of humor!

Whether you are thinking about adopting as a single parent or you know someone that is a single parent, remember that millions of children are growing up healthy and happy in single-parent households. And that single hopeful adoptive parents are just trying to pursue their dream of parenthood just as any other parent. Like all worthwhile journeys, the path of single adoptive parenthood is easiest when taken one step at a time. To read more about single parent households and how less than a quarter of American families fit the old “Leave It To Beaver” model of a married, two-parent, opposite-sex household with children, check out our Families Are Changing post from 2009.

Open Adoption: The Birth Parent Perspective

In November 2006, The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute published an article titled, Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents in the Adoption Process. This work highlighted the changes that have taken place in adoption practices and how it is important to protect the rights of birthparents along each step of the adoption journey.

Newborn baby girl

Adoption laws and practices are changing and with decades of experience the Adoption Institute established a list of rights that are in the best interest of men and women who are considering an adoption plan for their child which include:

• Make the placement decision in a fully informed manner, without pressure or coercion.
• Reconsider an adoption plan PRIOR to the legal finalization of the relinquishment.
• Be informed from the very beginning about any financial expectations, such as repayment of assistance if you are to change your mind about placement.
• Exercise all parental rights prior to placement.
• Make sure you are being treated with dignity, respect and honesty.
• Consider having independent legal counsel to protect your best interests during the process.
• Receive nondirective counseling to help you understand all of the options and resources available and the implications of your decision to place.
• Be legally assured that promises and agreements regarding ongoing contact and information made during the adoption process will be adhered to.

The Adoption Institute also created a list of seven recommendations for those who are practicing adoptions and for the adoption community.

1. Establish legally enforceable post –adoption contact agreements in all states and permit adults who were adopted to regain access to their own records.
2. Require all adoption practitioners to provide a document of birthparents’ rights and responsibilities, which should be signed by the clients and the professionals near the beginning of their work together.
3. Require at least two counseling sessions with a qualified professional for all women who are placing children for adoption, during which they are fully informed about their options, including parenting and various types of adoption, as well as about the resources available to them.
4. Modify state laws on the timing of relinquishment and revocation so that parents have several weeks after childbirth before an adoption decision becomes irrevocable. Ideally, this would include a minimum of one week after birth before a relinquishment can be signed and then a substantial revocation period.
5. Require more aggressive protection of birthfathers’ rights by mandating their identification by birthmothers whenever possible, and by personally notifying all possible fathers of adoption proceedings. In states where putative father registers exist, they should be widely advertised, and a failure to register should not be used as an automatic reason for not notifying or involving men. A national registry would help to alleviate some of this system’s inherent problems.
6. Address the critical gap in knowledge about birthparents’ needs and preferences through research on questions including:
a. What are the characteristics of women (and men when they are involved) who choose adoption for their children today and what are their perspectives in relation to the choices they make-i.e., abortion, parenting or adoption?
b. How do they decide on a specific type of adoption, if that is the road they choose, and what laws, practices and policies can best meet their needs and desires?
c. What is the emotional and psychological impact of adoption loss for birthparents, and what practices facilitate grief resolution and healthy long-term adjustment for them?
d. What practices are needed to support all of a child’s parents in working out their relationships after placement, including open adoption arrangements?
7. Develop a broader array of post-adoption services to serve birthparents, including counseling or mediation services to facilitate open-adoption arrangements.

Do you agree with the conclusions that the Adoption Institute came up with after their research? We would love to start a conversation with our followers about the importance of birth parents’ rights, so join in and share your opinions!

Source: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute


Tips for Same-Sex Couples Looking into Adoption

LGBT ISTOCK - LGBT men with babyIn February of last year, The Williams Institute released research estimating that 16,000 same-sex couples are raising more than 22,000 adopted children in the United States. Adoption has its difficulties as is, but gay and lesbian couples or singles face some unique challenges. Private and government organizations are making strides to ensure that adoption policies are fair, no matter what your sexual orientation is. If you decide to adopt, the following are some helpful tips to keep in mind.

  1. Find the best fit for your adoption. There are many options with adoption to consider before deciding which to pursue. First you should decide whether you want to go through private or public adoption. Next, are you thinking about adopting an infant or older child? This could determine which form of adoption, private or public, you would like to pursue. Third, you must ask yourself and your partner if you feel willing and able to adopt transracially or if you prefer to adopt a child that is of the same race? Finally, you must decide if you would like an open or closed adoption. If you choose open, how open would you prefer your contact with the birth family to be?
  2. Learn the laws. First you must find out if it is legal in your state for same-sex couples to adopt. Each state differs in their policies for same-sex adoption; The laws can also vary by county. There are laws which allow ‘second-parent adoption,’ a way for a second parent to adopt a child without the ‘first parent’ losing any parental rights. The laws for second-parent adoption vary by state. States which do not allow joint or second-parent adoption could leave couples in a tricky spot because the parent without legal rights could suffer harsh consequences if the partners were to separate. You can research your state’s laws at
  3. Consider your relationships & community. Adopting a child requires support and in the case of same-sex adoptions when adversity is unfortunately still present, it is crucial that your community and relationships are accepting of you as a couple before you bring another human into your world. Make sure that your relationships and the level of acceptance at work, with co-workers and employers, as well as neighbors, family and friends are comfortable. Look at your town and school districts as well – if you are not comfortable in your environment, it might be a good time to look into moving to an area which is accepting of your partnership & family.
  4. Find ‘Gay-Friendly’ adoption agencies. A good place to start when looking for a Gay-Friendly adoption agency is the Human Rights Campaign’s website. ( The HRC has a list of agencies that have achieved their ‘All Children – All Families’ benchmarks of LGBT Cultural Competency. Another way to check if an agency is ‘gay-friendly’ is to read their mission statement for an explicit antidiscrimination clause about placing children with same-sex couples. The best way to find out about a local agency is to ask for recommendations within the LGBT community.
  5. Get together with a support community. Getting support from a group of like-minded individuals can be very beneficial for same-sex couples looking to adopt. The adoption process and post-adoption placement can be overwhelming. Having a support system made up of individuals who have been through the process before can be very helpful. You can check for support groups run by local adoption agencies, LGBT advocacy groups, and fertility clinics. Support groups and events for your children when they get older can also be very beneficial. You should also consider joining a support group that includes same-sex couples with children so that your child knows that he or she is not the only one who has two moms or two dads and has other families to identify with.

As you can see, there are many things to consider when you decide to adopt as an LGBT couple. We hope that these tips are helpful for you and your partner in the beginning steps of starting your family. We wish you the best of luck on your journey!