LGBT International Adoption: Is it Possible?

While joint LGBT adoption is now legal in the United States, some same-sex couples are drawn to an international gay adoption instead. Whether this is due to a desire to adopt a child living in an orphanage who is desperately in need of a family, a desire to adopt a child of another culture, or simply because of an interest in adopting a foreign-born child, they decide that an LGBT international adoption is what’s right for them.

However, whether you’ve decided on this kind of adoption or are still considering it, it’s important to recognize that there will be challenges with a gay international adoption that you would not have during a domestic child adoption. Over the past decade, many foreign countries have started restricting international adoptions for all couples. If you’re an LGBT couple, your options will be even more limited, as not many countries are as progressive as the U.S. is for LGBT adoption rights.

As with any other adoption process, it’s important that you fully research an international gay adoption to decide whether it’s the right choice for your family. One of the best ways to do so is by talking with an international adoption professional.

We’ll also lay out some of the basics you need to know here.

How does an LGBT international adoption work?

No matter your sexual orientation, the international adoption process can be somewhat complicated. This is because, rather than a pair of similar adoption laws between states, you may have to comply with two nations’ and your home state’s adoption laws — all of which can be vastly different from each other. Some international adoptions are subject to Hague Convention requirements, as well.

So, clearly, the legal process of an international adoption is very involved — and adopting as a same-sex couple can add even more legal steps. Because some countries do not recognize same-sex marriage, trying to adopt a child jointly from one of those countries will be impossible. Instead, you’ll have to complete an additional adoption process for the non-adopting spouse once you return to the U.S. (that is, in addition to the international re-adoption process you may have to complete).

However, once you find a country that you want to adopt from and an international adoption agency to work with, here’s how the typical gay international adoption process goes:

  1. Complete an international home study and a dossier, and double-check that you meet the requirements to adopt from that international county.
  2. Work with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to prepare for bringing an adopted child back into the country.
  3. Find an adoption opportunity and determine whether it’s the right match for your family.
  4. Travel to that country to adopt your child and then finalize and legalize your adoption back in the U.S.

Of course, the laws of the country that you choose to adopt from will impact how your adoption actually plays out. That’s why it’s so important to work closely with an experienced international adoption professional to determine which nation might be the best choice for you.

Which are the countries that allow same-sex adoption?

It’s not just important to understand which countries allow gay adoption but also to understand that international adoption possibilities have been steadily declining for the last decade. Some countries that were once open to adoptions from Americans have either restricted them or barred them completely. Therefore, the international adoption process is much more difficult than it used to be.

That being said, there are still a few countries that allow gay adoption from foreigners. They are:

  • Colombia
  • Brazil (must be at least 25 years old)
  • The Philippines (must be completed individually)

The Philippines are like most countries around the world. While the nation doesn’t recognize gay marriage, individuals can adopt a child and then complete a stepparent or second parent adoption when back in the States. If you’re interested in a gay international adoption from any other country (that still allows adoptions from the United States), this is the likely path you’ll need to take. You can find out if a certain country allows for adoptions by Americans here. Most of the countries that recognize same-sex marriage (and, therefore, joint adoption) can be found here, but keep in mind — not all of these countries have adoption arrangements with the United States.

It’s important to understand that even if you can adopt a child from a country, either as an individual or a couple, you should be prepared to have a longer adoption wait time. Many times, foreign prospective adoptive families are lower in priority than native prospective adoptive families, and it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to adopt a healthy infant under the age of 5 years old. Instead, you may need to be open to adopting a child with special needs, whether that’s a medical or mental condition or an older, non-white child.

As mentioned before, the best way to find out what LGBT international adoption options are available to you is by working through an international adoption agency. These agencies are up-to-date on the latest international adoption laws, and their professionals can help you choose a foreign country and legal adoption process that’s right for your situation. Some international adoption agencies to reach out to include:

An LGBT international adoption is a big commitment to make, so it’s recommended that you’re 100 percent comfortable with the process and understand it before moving forward. There are plenty of domestic options for gay and lesbian adoptions as well, but which process you ultimately end up choosing will be entirely up to you. Just remember — if you prepare enough and dedicate yourself to the process, you will eventually have the child you’ve always dreamed of.