While laws vary from state to state, adoption by LGBT people is more common and possible than ever before. In most states, LGBT single people and couples are treated just the same as heterosexual singles and couples. Determining the laws that govern adoption in your state is important because your strategies may be different depending on your state law, your marital status, and other factors that apply to all adoptions in your home state. To find an LGBT-friendly adoption attorney, use our Directory - LGBT-friendly attorneys are designated with the letters “LGBT.”
One significant issue facing LGBT people will be restrictions on adoption based on marital status. LGBT couples who are not married or are in other legal relationships (civil union, domestic partnerships, etc.) may find that they can only adopt as a couple in their home state if they are married. Your attorney may recommend that you seek an agency or placement in another state and finalize the adoption if you can in the state of the agency or the birth parents to avoid these restrictions, or you can marry, if that is right for you.
If you cannot adopt jointly due to marital status, you may consider a single parent adopting, followed by a “second parent” adoption if your state allows such adoptions. If you are married and one of you has a child, step-parent adoptions may also be available to you if there is no other legal parent or if the other legal parent is not supporting or acting as a parent to the child. Speak with your attorney about whether a step-parent adoption is possible.
LGBT people have continued, even after marriage equality, to face difficulty in obtaining birth certificates for their adopted children. The U.S. Supreme Court has recently ruled that if a state places the name of a birth mother’s husband on a birth certificate, then it must place the name of a birth mother’s wife on a birth certificate. However, you should remember that while birth certificates are important documents, they are rarely recognized as proof of parentage. This means that all non-birth parents of a child in an LGBT family must do a second-parent or step-parent adoption to secure their legal parentage rights to the child. You may also be able to obtain a court order declaring you to be a parent instead of adopting – called a "parentage order" – speak with your lawyer about the best approach to securing your parentage rights.
For more information on LGBT adoptions, the following organizations have important and interesting information and the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) has supported their efforts with the filing of amicus curiae, or friend of the court briefs on some of their litigation advocating for LGBT adoption and parenting rights.