Home » Adopting » What is Gay Adoption and How Does it Work? » Can Gay Couples Adopt? What You Need to Know
Can Gay Couples Adopt? What You Need to Know
If you’re considering adoption as a way to grow your LGBT family, the first question you have is probably, “Can gay couples adopt?” The answer is absolutely. In fact, thanks to the marriage equality ruling of Obergefell vs. Hodges (which guaranteed same-sex couples’ right to marry) and the federal ruling that overturned a ban on adoption for LGBT individuals in Mississippi, married same-sex couples in the United States now have the same adoption rights as any heterosexual couples.While the fight over gay adoption rights achieved a monumental step with these rulings in the U.S., if you’re a gay couple, your adoption rights may not be protected in other countries due to less progressive attitudes. Still, there are certain countries that welcome all prospective parents no matter their sexual orientation, so make sure to research these if you’re considering an international adoption. Overall, know that same-sex couples can adopt in the U.S., but it’s important to work closely with an attorney to determine what your legal requirements and process might look like.
You Have the Right to AdoptNo matter which state you’re in, there are always adoption rights for gay couples like yourself that protect your ability to adopt a child. States cannot discriminate against people from adopting because of their sexual orientation — but, in a roundabout way to discriminate against LGBT couples before marriage equality, some did and still do require adoptive parents to be married if they plan on adopting jointly. While this was a problem for same-sex parents’ adoption rights before the marriage equality ruling, now that same-sex couples can legally get married in all 50 states, that marriage requirement doesn’t restrict them from adopting a child. But, what if you’re not married and want to adopt as a couple? Adopting a child as a couple when you’re not married can be complicated, whether you’re homosexual or heterosexual. Because some states make it illegal for unmarried couples to adopt, you won’t be able to adopt jointly. Instead, you’ll need to complete a second-parent adoption (if you remain unmarried) or a stepparent adoption if you get married after the adoption. It’s always up to individuals whether they want to get married, but if you want to adopt a child with your spouse or partner, it’s recommended that you get married before starting the process — it will be much easier. To learn more about the different processes of adoption and which one might be necessary for your situation, contact a local adoption attorney.
Why is Legally Adopting Your Child Important?One reason why people are interested in gay rights and adoption is not because they want to adopt a child together — but because one partner has already adopted a child and the other partner already acts as a parental figure in that child’s life. This may occur when a single LGBT individual adopts a child before entering into a relationship, or when a same-sex couple adopted before the marriage equality ruling and could not both legally adopt their child — or didn’t think it was necessary. However, this is incredibly risky. If both partners don’t have legal rights to a child, the spouse lacking rights cannot take custody of the child if something happens to their partner — no matter how long they’ve had a parent-child relationship. You may think it’s unnecessary to legally adopt a child that you’ve been acting as a parent to for so long, but by completing a stepparent or second-parent adoption, you can:
- Protect your child’s right to insurance and inheritance
- Be recognized as their parent during school pickups, doctor’s appointments and other events
- Be able to obtain their medical records
- And create secure, legal permanence for your family