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Gay Adoption

Find gay adoption statistics and learn the factors involved with gay couples adopting in each state.

1. Gay Adoption: America

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the number of children living with same-sex parents has doubled since 2000. How much of that is from adoption is not clear, but the emergence of a younger generation of gay-friendly biological parents emerges has increased that amount. Homophobia raised past controversy does not affect them. These progressive birth parents consider domestic stability, relationship quality and financial security.

However, if you are gay and wish to adopt, whether you are single or a couple matters most. Ironically, the same people who argue that children need two-parent homes do not extend that to gay parents. Even so, the number of states allowing gay couples to adopt has nearly tripled in six years. Utah and Mississippi alone still outlaw gay adoption, since Florida’s restriction was found unconstitutional. Every other state in America allows single gay and lesbian adults to adopt.

The real controversy over gay adoption in America arises over gay couples and the legal landscape still shifts continually – mostly in favor of gay adoption. Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and the District of Columbia allow gay or lesbian stepparents to adopt their partners’ children. Except for Pennsylvania, those states also allow any other same-sex couples to adopt, as do Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. North Dakota, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and New Hampshire specifically prohibit it. In other states judges decide on a case-by-case basis, so in those states you may have to incur the express of the process before you know if you can adopt or not.

Sources

Florida Domestic Partnership Law Blog (2012)

Gay-Adoption.us (2006)


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2. Issues In Deciding the Adoption Question

Definitive studies are needed that would follow larger numbers of children over a long period of time. This would establish reliable information on gay parenting and the effects (if any) on children.

Currently, research studies are contradictory and can be influenced by the individuals or organizations that finance the study. Studies linked with conservative groups and religion often show negative effects on children from gay households. Studies that support gay parenting are often accused of being biased, the researchers supporting gay rights.



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3. Factors In Adopting 

Gay and lesbian couples who want to have a family often turn to foster care and adoption as a way to receive children into their home. As of 2010, National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections reports that 4% of adopted children and 3% of foster children in the United States are living with same-sex parents. Yet same-sex couples may still face barriers.

State Laws

Some states laws prohibit gay couples from adopting or fostering children through that state's system, but these laws are increasingly being overturned. For example, Florida began allowing gay couples to adopt in November 2008. Adoption laws about individuals adopting a same-sex partner's child also vary.

Discriminatory Language

Adoption and foster care applications often have language that is not friendly to same-sex couples. For example, forms should say "Parent 1" and "Parent 2" rather than the gender-specific terms of mother and father.

Difficulty Getting Approved

The adoption and foster care process often includes a home visit and evaluation of the parents' abilities to raise children well. Even in states with laws that prohibit discrimination, gay couples still may fail evaluations for inexplicable reasons.



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4. Same Sex Adoption in the United States

One quarter of children living with same-sex couples in the United States have been adopted, according to a research guide from the Georgia State University College of Law. Despite the fact that many same-sex couples have been able to adopt, barriers to adoption still exist in several states. Sexual orientation is not a federally protected class the way that race and ethnicity are.

Some states have recently changed laws regarding same sex adoption. For example, in 2010, Florida overturned a ban that prevented gays and lesbians from adopting children. The Florida Supreme Court ruled the ban unconstitutional and determined that it denied the "best interests of the child," according to CNN.

Same sex adoption proves to be an uphill battle in other states. For example, in Michigan, same sex couples cannot become parents of an adopted child together. Instead, only a single, unmarried person can adopt the child in that state. The state of Mississippi has a similar law, according to Human Rights Campaign. Arizona passed a law in 2011 that did not ban same-sex couples from adopting, but instead gave preference to heterosexual couples in the adoption process, according to the Independent Adoption Center.


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5. Step Parent Rights and Gay Marriage

Children of gay marriage are biologically related to, at most, one of their parents. As more states recognize same-sex marriage, those states' laws have provided more protection for the rights of non-biological parents. Determining parental rights is important, as it can help decide custody issues in the case of a divorce.

Because federal law does not yet recognize gay marriage, rights are determined at the state level and vary greatly. An important victory was achieved in January of this year when Iowa courts decided that the names of both same-sex parents should be included on the birth certificates of children born to a married couple. In other states, the non-biological parent can adopt to become the legal parent of their child.

In states where gay marriage is not legal, the legal rights of non-biological parents are fragile. According to Keen News Service, a judge in North Carolina voided a second-parent adoption in 2010. Similar cases have popped up throughout the country. Without the protection provided by marriage, the rights of thousands of parents are at the mercy of the whims of a judge.



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