Gay Adoption

Adoption Advertising: What Gay Dads Should Know

Gay men pursuing an independent adoption may look to "advertise" to potential birth families. But the laws vary state to state.

Many gay men and couples opt to pursue an independent adoption for the freedom it provides. Rather than leave the work to find a birth family to an agency, independent adoptions allow adoptive families to be active participants in the search process. Often, this involves conducting extensive outreach or "advertising" placing notices in newspapers, on radio or online to help adoptive families connect with birth families.


Conducting outreach in this way can be a useful tool for gay men and couples interested in pursuing an independent adoption. In particular, it can provide gay men with an opportunity upfront about their sexual orientation, and connect with birth families that will embrace the idea of gay dads.

However, the extent to which adoptive parents are allowed to advertise varies widely by state. See below for more information on where your state falls:

States That Forbid Advertising in Adoption Proceedings

In 16 states — Alabama, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, and Utah — state law expressly prohibits advertising in adoption proceedings. Statutes in these states generally prohibit adoptive parents from advertising on any "public medium," including radio. The prohibition typically extends to adoption "intermediaries," who are professionals that help connect birth families with prospective adoptive parents. (Check out our glossary of adoption terms every gay man should know.)

Needless to say, pursuing an independent adoption in states that prohibit advertising can make the process much more difficult. Often, prospective adoptive parents pursuing independent adoptions in these states must already be connected to the birth family in some manner, which precludes the need for advertising.

States That Allow Advertising in Adoption Proceedings

At least 16 states — Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas*, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin – have laws on the books that specifically allow advertising in adoption proceedings. It's important to read each statute closely, however, as some detail certain requirements that must be met in order to legally advertise.

Colorado and Connecticut, for instance, require all adoption proceedings to occur via a state certified agency. Adoption professionals in agencies are allowed to advertise on your behalf, but you or an independent intermediary cannot do so on your own.

Other states, including Kansas and Mississippi, don't necessarily prohibit an intermediary from advertising on behalf of adoptive parents, but they do require those adoption professionals to state whether or not they are licensed, and by what agency. Some jurisdictions, such as North Carolina and Oklahoma, require adoptive parents to first complete a valid home study before engaging in any advertising.

States Without Regulations on Advertising in Adoption Proceedings

The last 18 states — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming — and the District of Columbia have no laws on the books with respect to adverting in adoption proceedings. The lack of a law expressly prohibiting outreach has generally been interpreted to mean that adoptive parents, and any intermediary working on their behalf, are free to advertise as they see fit.

Still, adoption laws are constantly changing, and there is nothing stopping these states from enacting advertising restrictions at some point in the future. So regardless of the state you live in, be sure to check with your lawyer regarding the laws in your state prior to engaging in any advertising or outreach. And be sure you ask your adoption attorney (or agency) these 5 questions.

*The information included above is educational, and is not meant as a substitute for legal advice.*

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News

New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

News

Trump Administration to Allow Discrimination Against LGBTQ Foster and Adoptive Parents

In its latest move against the LGBTQ community, the Trump administration has proposed a rule that will give adoption and foster care agencies license to discriminate on the basis of religion

On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new rule to reverse an Obama-era policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity — allowing foster and adoption agencies to legally refuse to work with prospective adoptive and foster parents who identify as LGBTQ on the grounds of religious belief.

Denise Brogan-Kator, speaking to the New York Times, said the proposal would have an "enormous" impact on the LGBTQ community, noting that all organizations that get funding from the department will be "free to discriminate."

The White House, for its part, proclaimed the proposed rule was promoting "religious freedom," saying in a statement that "the federal government should not be in the business of forcing child welfare providers to choose between helping children and their faith."

As the New York Times pointed out, LGBTQ couples with children are far likely than different-sex couples to be raising adopted children. This move in support of so-called "religious freedom," then, will merely negatively impact the more than 400,000 children currently in the foster care system by denying them loving homes with LGBTQ individuals and couples.

Read more about this rule here. We'll be sure to keep readers up to speed as this issue develops.

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