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Adoption and the LGBT Community

Where to Start

Types of Gay and Lesbian Adoption
Is Adoption by LGBT Legal
Kids and Same Sex Parents
Finding a Gay Friendly Adoption Agency/Attorney
Should Gays and Lesbians Use an Adoption Agency/Attorney
Other Resources

Where to Start?

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Statistics on Gay and Lesbians Adopting

  • 40% of same sex couples between the ages of 22 and 55 are currently raising children, about 5 % of whom are adopted. This equates to about 2 million children being raised by gay or lesbian parents, 65,500 of whom are adopted.
  • The LGBT community accounts for approximately 3% of all adoptions from foster care.
  • Up to 2 million gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders in the US are interested in adopting.

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Types of Gay and Lesbian Adoptions

  • Single- unmarried person adopts a child
  • Joint Adoption- 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

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Is adoption by gays, lesbians, and same sex couples legal or allowed?

lgbtfamilyAdoption is governed by state law rather than federal law, which means that there are 50 different laws (actually more, since the District of Columbia and each territory also have their own law) and 50 different answers to whether or not gays are allowed to adopt. A few 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 don’t 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.

  • This is the best survey I have found that analyzes the various state statutes as well as the case law on the legality of adoptions by LGBT parents. Unfortunately, there is no date on the survey, but it appears to be fairly current.
  • Another survey on what types of gay adoptions are allowed.


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. The word is getting out that adoption by gays is good for kids and good for families, and more gay couples and singles are telling me that they are not having problems, 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 you in your efforts to adopt. It depends on the marriage recognition laws and adoption statute 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.

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How do the kids raised by same sex parents fare?

Same sex parents are not a generic group and drawing large generalities where we can all or none is no easier with homosexual parents than with heterosexual parents. However, we can look to the research, which almost universally finds that children with gay or lesbian parents compare about the same as children with heterosexual parents on a range of psychosocial measures of adjustment. If you are interested in this topic, and want to delve into the research but don’t necessarily want to go to a research library, consider these thorough summaries.

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How to find a gay friendly adoption agency or adoption attorney?

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. The following resources can help you choose a good agency.

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Should gays and lesbians use an adoption agency or 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 a birth mother. 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. In other words, it’s a bit of a "catch twenty-two".

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  • Daddy & Papa is a one-hour documentary about gay adoption. I can’t recommend this DVD enough. It is inspirational, but doesn’t gloss over the very real issues gay fathers face. It explores transracial adoption, being the only parent in your circle of friends, and adopting kids from difficult backgrounds. Of the four families followed, one was created by surrogacy. The dads in this family later divorced, and the film doesn’t shy away from exploring the difficulties of divorce on the children. The DVD is $25, but it is well worth the price.

  • Check out the adoption videos of LGBT families on the Adoption Video page of this website. These will tug at your heart and put a smile on your face.

  • The Family Equity Council does phenomenal work to support LGBT families.

  • Families Like Ours is formed by adoptive-foster families to help other navigate the maze of adoption. Its focus is on helping LGBT families find children to adopt, primarily through the foster care system or other harder to place children. They have a great Adoption 101 guide for families.

  • LGBT Families- Well researched site for same sex couples beginning to think about adoption.

  • Gay Adoption- Becoming a Gay Parent

  • "GLBT Communities & Adoption: Courting an Untapped Resource" is an article published by the North American Council on Adoptable Children.

  • Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute "Expanding Resources for Children: Is Adoption by Gays and Lesbians Part of the Answer for Boys and Girls Who Need Homes?" provides an examination of relevant issues, laws and practices relating to gay and lesbian adoption and parenting, and review of the available studies spanning the last several decades. The report found "no child-centered reason to prevent gays and lesbians from becoming adoptive parents, and recommends that gay and lesbian parents be utilized more extensively to provide permanent, loving homes for children living in state care across the country."

  • Gay Adoption Basics is a good primer at Adoption/Foster Care. This site cover the basics (hence the name), including Secrecy; Gay Adoption and Foster Care Statistics; Gay Adoption and Foster Care Fears; Types of Adoptions; Gay Adoption Legalities and Issues; Gay Adoption / Foster Care Education and Support for Families; Gay Adoption and Foster Care News

  • COLAGE (Children Of Lesbians And Gays Everywhere) An organization for the children of LGBT! families with lots of resources for parents as well. They have one of the best book lists for parents and for kids that I've found and some terrific resources to use with schools. I love their pen pal matching for kids.

  • The Organization of Parents Through Surrogacy is a national educational, networking and referral organization that supports families formed through surrogacy or those considering this option. They have resources, reading lists, and a forum.

  • Parent Via Egg Donation has great information and best of all, a very active forums for families.

  • Families Like Mine: Information and resources for daughters and sons of LGBT parents. This site also included a link to the book Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It Is.

  • Rainbow Rumpus is an online magazine with sections for youth and kids with LBGT parents. It has a variety of good resources for both age groups as well as a section for parents, teachers, and friends.

  • Donor Sibling Registry helps children conceived as a result of sperm, egg, or embryo donation to find and connect with half-siblings. We estimate that one third of the children searching for their family members on DSR are from lesbian-headed households.

  • Father’s Day is an Extra Special Day for Gay Dads by Gay Fathers of Greater Boston

  • Rainbow Babies - Good source of information for GLBT pregnancies and parenting. I especially like their real life stories of gay and lesbian parents.

  • "Expanding Resources For Children: Is Adoption By Gays and Lesbians Part of the Answer for Boys and Girls Who Need Homes?" - Examines relevant issues, laws and practices relating to gay and lesbian adoption and parenting., 2006

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