Proudly serving the non-traditional adoptive family
on the type of adoption gay and lesbian parents are interested in -
public, private, independent, open or international - there may be
different considerations involved in disclosing sexual orientation. How
open prospective adoptive parents are about their homosexuality depends
upon the couples' personal feelings on disclosure, whether direct
questions are asked and what the laws in the State of residency are.
important point for all prospective adoptive parents to be aware of is -
the difference between not sharing private information and deliberately
lying at any time in the adoption process. Although it is completely
legal to omit information regarding homosexuality, it is illegal to lie
about it when confronted directly.18
Let it be clear that failing to tell the truth is considered fraud and
raises the opportunity for either an adoption not being finalized or a
in adopting from the public child welfare system depends on the State
adoption law and the attitude of the agency. For example, in New
York and California, gay and lesbian prospective adoptive parents are
protected against discrimination. It is illegal for public agencies in
those states to reject adoptive parents on the basis of sexual
orientation. However, that is not a guarantee that prejudices don't
exist. Social workers who are uncomfortable with homosexuality may find
the prospective adoptive parents unsuitable for other reasons. 19
State decides independently who can adopt. Since, judges at the county
level make the final decision, the availability of adoption as an option
to openly gay and lesbian couples is influenced by the political and
social community in which the family lives. The court's decision hinges
on the "best interest" of the child, a concept interpreted
differently by different judges.
agencies establish their own criteria for the prospective adoptive
parents. Age, religion, fertility status, marital status and
sexual orientation all may be agency considerations. Some private
agencies may disregard sexual orientation, and present the prospective
parent as a single adopter who lives with another adult who will share
the responsibilities of raising the child. This omission of sexual
orientation is based on the agency's judgment and relevancy to the
applicant's parenting qualifications.
and Open Adoption
independent adoption is an adoption facilitated by those other than
caseworkers associated with an agency. They may be a physician, an
attorney, or an intermediary and are illegal in some States. In an
independent adoption the placement decision (within the provisions of
the State statute) is completely up to the families involved. However,
independent adoption does not necessarily mean an open adoption. An open
adoption involves some amount of initial and/or ongoing contact of birth
and adoptive families. The adoptive and birth parents agree upon the
birth parents role, future communication and the degree of openness
prior to adoption. Being honest with the birth parents from the first
contact allows gay and lesbian adoptive parents the opportunity to have
a relationship without the possibility of a disrupting secret.
a child from a foreign country may involve finding an agency willing to
accept the adoptive parents' sexual orientation, disclosing the
information to the contacts in the sending country, and presenting the
information to the foreign government. However, conservative, or
religious and often developing countries may not be as receptive to gay
and lesbian couples. Adoptive parents need to be aware that foreign
governments and courts are making placement decisions based on their
cultural standards and what they feel is in the best interest of the
Looking for books on this subject? Check out our book store.
Martin, A. (1993). The Lesbian and Gay Parenting Handbook. New
York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
19 Martin, A.
This information is supplied by the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse. Check out more informative Fact-Sheets from NAIC.
The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse publishes these fact-sheets as a service to the adoption community. They do not serve as a replacement for legal and adoption advice from a licensed attorney, or adoption professional practicing in the field of adoption in the State(s) where both the potential adoptive parent(s) and the child(ren) to be adopted reside. We also cannot guarantee accuracy; changes in State law may have occurred since the research was conducted. The Adoption Family Center and Families Like Ours, Inc. is not a legal advice firm, adoption agency or adoption facilitator.