Same-Sex Adoption Lawyers

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Same-Sex Adoption Lawyers

LGBT individuals or same-sex couples may wish to adopt and raise children. However, there are still some potential barriers to adoption. For example, faith-based adoption agencies may be allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation in placing children. A family law attorney who specializes in same-sex adoption in your state may be able to help you navigate the adoption process.

Can I Adopt a Child as an LGBT Individual?

Unmarried adults are usually able to adopt regardless of sexual orientation. However, single people in general may face increased scrutiny in the adoption process as compared to some couples.

Can We Adopt a Child If We Are a Same-sex Couple?

Mississippi, which banned same-sex couples from adopting in 2000, is currently the only state with this type of law. The ban is presently being challenged in court by potential adoptive parents. In all other states, same-sex couples are free to adopt children.

In the past, some adoption agencies objected to same-sex couples adopting outside of marriage. Now that same-sex marriage has become legal in the United States, many couples will no longer face this particular challenge. However, in some states, even where a child is born into a same-sex marriage and one spouse is the biological parent, the other spouse is not automatically presumed to be the parent of the child. This means that an adoption process may still be necessary to protect the rights of the other spouse.

What Kinds of Adoption are there?

There are four different types of adoptions:

This is adoption by a single parent, who may or may not be part of a couple. This means that one adult has a legal parental relationship with the child. This form of adoption may be disadvantageous to the partner in the couple that still has no legal rights.

Joint adoption is where a couple adopts a child together and both adults become legal parents of the child. Joint adoption typically involves couples that have a formal legal status such as marriage; very few states allow it outside of marriage.  The legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States may make this an option for more same-sex couples.

Stepparent adoption occurs when one of the partners in the relationship is already considered a parent. If that parent later marries, their spouse can petition to become the legal stepparent of the child.

Second parent adoption is an option for unmarried couples, when one of the partners in the relationship is already considered a parent. Just like it sounds, the other partner in the relationship can go through the adoption process to become the second parent. Second parents, because they are in an unmarried relationship, may face custody difficulties in certain states if the relationship ends. Some states consider a second parent to have few or no rights; others allow second parents to become “de facto parents” after the split and have a continued role in the child’s life.  Second parent adoption is only available in D.C. and in 15 U.S. states.

Open Versus Closed Adoption

If you are adopting a child who has two other biological parents, one decision you will need to make is whether or not you are comfortable with an open adoption. In an open adoption, one or more of the parents may still play some role in the life of the child, sometimes including regular visits. In closed adoptions, there is no contact between the biological parents and the child.

Where Can I Go to Begin the Adoption Process?

There are several resources available for parents who wish to adopt. Public and private adoption agencies each work to place children in new families. Public adoption agencies often place children who are part of the child welfare system, some of whom may have been in foster care. Private adoptions may place children who are from the United States or from other countries. Independent adoption, another option, is adoption through negotiation with a lawyer or other representative rather than an adoption agency.

An Exception: Adoption from Some Faith-Based Agencies

Faith-based agencies are allowed to freely discriminate based on sexual orientation in some states. This may be true in some states even if the agencies receive state-level government contracts to provide children and families with adoption services.

Should I Contact an Attorney about a Same-Sex Adoption?

Adoptions may still involve unique challenges for same sex couples. To learn more about your rights, contact an attorney. A family law attorney can explain the adoption process, which adoption option is best for you, and how to proceed.

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Last Modified: 11-06-2015 10:06 AM PST

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