- November 18, 2013
This post comes from HRC Children, Youth and Families Program Intern Greg Miles in celebration of National Adoption Month.
So it’s National Adoption Month and you’re interested in adoption, but where do you even begin? Well, you’re in the right place and you’re not alone! An estimated 2 million LGBT adults are interested in adoption in the U.S., and the 2010 census found that an estimated 170,000 biological, step, or adopted children are being raised by approximately 110,000 same-sex couples in the U.S. The Williams Institute estimates that nearly 3 million LGBT Americans have raised children, and 6 million children and adults have LGBT parents.
Below is some basic information to help you understand the path to adoption and a few tips for prospective LGBT parents.
Actually learning more about adoption is the first step of your journey; congratulations – you’re at step one! There are several well-known LGBT authors who have written about their experiences with adoption, for example: “The Kid” by Dan Savage, “Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight” by Dan Bucatinsky, “Fatherhood for Gay Men” by Kevin McGarry, and “Waiting for the Call” by Jacqueline Taylor.
If you decide adoption is right for you and your family, you’ll need to know your options. Check out our Adoption Options Overview resources as well as our 8 questions to ask before starting the adoption process.
Whether you are single or partnered, legally married or not, the most important step is choosing the right agency. See our resource on finding LGBT-friendly agencies near you. Whether you choose a public or private agency, the main steps involve: the adoption application, the home study, the matching/placement process and then finalization.
- Applying for the adoption requires training classes, background checks, and letters of recommendation from friends, family and so forth.
- Next, a social worker conducts a homestudy to gather detailed information about you and your family, and includes two or more in-person visits at your home.
- If you meet all of the requirements, you are then approved to adopt a child by your social worker and their agency, and they decide on the characteristics, age, and number of children you are best suited to adopt.
- There may be a wait, but now you enter the matching process wherein you and your social worker learn about children waiting for placement for whom your family might be a good fit.
- Once matched with a child, you have to prepare yourself and your home for placement of your child.
- Finally, after an assessment period with monthly visits from your social worker, you can finalize the adoption in court, committing yourself fully to your new family.
For any prospective parents this process may appear daunting at first, and LGBT individuals or couples may have unique concerns. If you’re unsure whether you can adopt, know that there are no laws specifically prohibiting adoption based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Some states may allow single LGBT parents to adopt but have laws prohibiting unmarried couples from adopting jointly, so you should get to know your state laws.
Another helpful strategy is to find a community of LGBT parents near you; other current or prospective LGBT parents can help you get ready for an adoption and tell you more about local laws and procedures, as well as connect you with friendly resources. Many cities have LGBT parenting groups – check out this database of community centers across the U.S. Lastly, remember that this process is different everywhere, and one of the most important factors to success is advocating for yourself, speaking up and being proactive no matter where you are.
Learn more at www.hrc.org/issues/adoption.