Becoming a parent is its own reward. Every year, thousands of couples from all walks of life take the plunge to find out just how incredible this journey really is.
But, if you’re an LGBT individual, you’re probably wondering what it’s really like to adopt a child. Are the trials and tribulations really worth it in the end? It’s up to you to answer that question.
Although society has become much more accepting, we still have a long way to go when it comes to protecting the rights of LGBT couples around the world. If you’re considering adoption or foster care, there are a few challenges you should be prepared for.
What Challenges Do LGBT Couples Face in Adoption?
Every adoption experience is different. We won’t try to make assumptions about what it will look for you.
That being said, here are a few roadblocks that LGBT couples frequently run into when pursuing a domestic, international or foster care adoption:
1. Lack of a mother/father figure for their child
While this might not be a problem in every relationship, some LGBT couples might worry about how a lack of a father or mother figure will affect their children. They might be concerned that their child will always feel like something is missing or will long for a relationship with the type of parent they never had. Feelings like this can make same-sex couples wonder if they’ll be enough.
However, it’s important to note that research has shown time and time again that children raised by LGBT parents experience no difference in emotional difficulties than those raised by heterosexual couples. And, with the makeup of the American family changing so dramatically, single-parenting and same-sex parenting is a “new normal” for lots of children.
There are other ways to fill that missing female/male role model, if a child seeks it out. For example, a trusted teacher, coach or mentor can help bridge the gap.
2. Discriminatory adoption laws
Unfortunately, some states still have a long way to go when it comes protecting the rights of LGBT couples. Make sure that you’re familiar with which states permit agencies to use “religious freedom” as a reason to turn away LGBT hopeful adoptive parents.
If you do live in one of these states, know there are agencies that can help you; you’ll just need to do a little extra research.
3. Trouble finding the right adoption agency
There are a number of faith-based adoption agencies that, unfortunately, have the right to turn away LGBT couples. Before you pursue this path, make sure that you find an agency that puts you first, no matter what your sexual orientation is.
If you’re looking for a LGBT-friendly agency near you, here are some questions that you can ask:
- How long do LGBT couples have to wait for a placement?
- How many LGBT couples does your agency typically work within a year?
- What do LGBT couples like most about your agency?
- What kind of support do you offer LGBT parents?
4. Difficulties adopting outside the U.S.
While the United States has no laws prohibiting LGBT couples from adopting, the same isn’t true for other countries. Before you pursue this type of adoption, make sure to brush up on adoption laws from your chosen country.
What’s It Like to Raise a Child as an LGBT Couple?
While we can’t speak for every family, some children of LGBT parents experience discrimination by their peers. If you’re an LGBT individual, then you’re probably all too aware of the potential struggles your child could face. You might even be afraid that their experience will mirror your some of your own.
With the right education, there are ways that you can minimize any negative experiences for your child growing up. You can stay involved by maintaining contact with their teachers, volunteering at their school, coaching their teams or reaching out to other LGBT parents. Seeing you participate in their life can give your child the courage they need to keep pushing forward, even when it’s hard.
Children of LGBT parents could potentially face problems like:
1. Troubles at school
It’s painful to watch your child come home with a broken heart. Maybe their classmates made homophobic comments to them, or one of their classmates made a “joke” about their adoption. Remember that these children are just repeating what they’ve heard at home — but don’t let it slide.
Talk to your child’s teacher about the comments they’ve heard. Don’t be afraid of stepping in if the bullying continues to escalate.
Research has shown that there is no difference when it comes to same-sex parenting vs. opposite-sex parenting. Children of same-sex parents fare as well as, if not better, than their peers. But that doesn’t stop people from spreading outdated stereotypes about LGBT parents.
Although these ideas are persistent, there are many ways that you can help. By far, the best solution is being active in your child’s life and their education. Make sure your child knows that you’ll always have their back, in and out of school, by listening to what they need and offering your support in any way you can.
3. No Peer Support
Depending on where you live or what school you go to, your child might have few supportive outlets — like LGBT peers or other children of LGBT parents — to turn to.
Thankfully, many schools have options for children like yours. If not, talk to administration about starting a community.
These potential challenges are exhausting, but there are ways to minimize them. If you or someone you know has experienced discrimination or harassment, don’t be afraid to speak up. You might not feel like it, but your voice can make a huge difference. You can always reach out to your HR department or a trusted teacher or mentor who can stand up on your behalf.
These charts can give you a quick overview of which states have laws protecting individuals from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.
Staying Committed to Your Dream
With the numerous challenges that LGBT couples face in adoption, it can be hard to stay optimistic about pursuing this path to parenthood. But you shouldn’t give up because of what someone else might say. If this is something that you’ve been dreaming of for as long you can remember, you should continue to pursue it with gusto.
Don’t forget that there are plenty of people on your side who want to see your dreams become reality. If you have any questions, you can always reach out to an adoption professional or an LGBT counselor near you.