Expert Advice

Your 15 Most Common Questions About Adoption, Answered by an Expert

We asked our Instagram community for their biggest questions about adoption. Then asked Molly Rampe Thomas of Choice Network to answer them.

As part of our new "Ask an Expert" series on Instagram, our community of dads and dads-to-be sent us their questions on adoption in the United States. Molly Rampe Thomas, founder of Choice Network, answered them.


Will I face discrimination as a gay man if I want to adopt?

The fact that you have to ask this question in 2019, is so incredibly infuriating, but it's a good one. Doing your research is important. I actually did a blog post on this for Gays with Kids. Also, the Human Rights Campaign has a list of approved agencies, so I think that it always a legit place to start.

HRC list: https://assets2.hrc.org/files/assets/resources/HRC_ACAF_Innovative_Inclusion.pdf?_ga=2.93877214.21960475.1567689181-515107171.1567689181

In the end, discrimination is still real as you know, but finding a team of people who care about you matters – and that is possible!

What is more costly: adoption or surrogacy?

Good question. The national average for domestic infant adoption is $43,000. My families pay anywhere from $30,000-$45,000. I am not an expert on surrogacy but have heard the average cost can be anywhere from $90,000-$130,000 (editor's note: check out our surrogacy guide). I think the difference more is that with adoption, as long as you can handle the ups and downs, you will end up with a child. Surrogacy success rates are much lower (though there are benefits – #not trying to be a hater). Also, adopting through the foster care system is almost always close to free. I encourage families to at least open their heart to research that option too (I would hate myself if I did not add that!).

What is the best place to begin? We're talking about it but haven't started.

I believe the best place to begin is by talking to other gay families who have adopted. Find a community of people who you trust to be there from beginning to end. Gays with Kids is an awesome place to start, and if you want a more personal introduction to other families, I am happy to connect you. Secondly, go to organizations you trust for referrals. Here locally, every LGBTQ serving organization sends families my way. Also nationally, as I have already stated, HRC has a list of approved agencies. Then from there, check out any referrals made and solidify your decision when you see they are screaming inclusivity.

How much is adoption?

The price can vary, but the national average for families wanting to adopt an infant is $43,000. With my agency, it is $30,000-$45,000. There are grants and funding opportunities available as well as tax credits. And, as I always make sure to mention, adopting through the foster care system is free.

What is the process like for adopting a baby?

With most agencies you start with an initial meeting. After that you are able to begin the homestudy process. The homestudy usually consists of a set of documents, trainings, and interviews. The documents needed can include things like background checks, reference letters, medical statements, financial docs, home inspections, etc. Once the homestudy is complete, you build your profile (we do ours online, because I think printed anything is old school). After the profile goes live, you begin the "wait" which can take anywhere from a day to 2+ years. After a pregnant person chooses you, the wait is over and you are considered matched. After you are matched, you create a plan for placement that includes a legal plan, hospital / birthing plan, and openness plan to prepare for the baby being born. Once the baby is born, there is normally a waiting time (anywhere from 24 hours to 3 days or more) until official placement can happen (though the baby almost always goes home with you from the hospital). After official placement happens, you enter the time where post placement supervision occurs. This includes visits from your agency to make sure the placement is going well (which it will be). Once the post placement period is over, finalization happens and the adoption is complete. I am realizing this could be a full blog post! Homestudy, wait, match, placement, post placement and finalization – are the normal steps to getting your babe.

How do we get the process started? It feels overwhelming

Start by talking with other gay families who have adopted. Have real conversations about the super low and super high moments. From there, use them and other organizations you trust to recommend adoption agencies. Each agency is a little different, so each process is a little different. But researching well is important and then from there just knowing - with all of your heart - that you have chosen the right people to lead you matters. If they are good, they will instantly ease your worries and make the process feel less overwhelming.

What are the costs related to an adoption?

Costs include agency and attorney fees as well as legal, medical, and living expense fees for the pregnant person. All of these fees can vary. For example, you may pay no medical expenses if your match has state insurance or you may have to pay co-pays. You also could pay no living expenses (depending on their need and what the state allows) or could pay a high amount of living expenses.

Where do you start? What are the first steps?

I think it is an awesome first step to start here! A community of people you trust to ask questions. Next, choose an inclusive agency. You can do that by recommendations from your community or through HRC or just be researching on your own and finding one that feels right for you. After that, you meet with the agency and begin your process. Here is a link to the process for our families, just so you can get an idea of what it might look like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qD4cKl_xqk8&feature=youtu.be

Can non-citizen residents adopt in the US?

Yes, it is possible for non-U.S citizens to adopt. In most cases, it is still done under domestic state adoption laws. Thanks for asking this!

Is the process still pretty hard to get "approved"? And does it still take years?

I would say no. Foster care and international adoption is harder to get approved than domestic infant adoption. With my agency, we move as fast as our families do. I think this is a great question for the agency you choose though too.

What is done / available to make adoption more affordable for middle class families?

Loans, grants and fundraising are avenues many families use. The adoption tax credit has been a life saver for so many as well. Again, adopting through the foster care system is almost always free. So I encourage families to start their research there first. You may rule it out quickly, but you might be surprised and happy you even considered it!

What is the most common issue that comes up during a homestudy?

The dreaded homestudy – actually in the end, isn't normally as dreadful as expected. For me, I sometimes have issues with families getting documents in. There are very few reasons people would fail the home study though. If someone has been convicted of felony child abuse or neglect, drugs or alcohol abuse, or domestic violence – they would most likely not be able to adopt.

Are there strict income requirements with adoption?

Specific agencies may have income requirements, which would be something you could ask as you are interviewing agencies, but I would say generally there are no income requirements.

Is it generally required to have a couple adoption (vs a single dad)?

Heck no! The pregnant people we serve love our single dads. I don't know the rates nationally, but for us – single dads are placed at the same rate as couples.

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Keith, who works as a Policy Advisor with the Canadian Federal Government, and Kevin, who works as the Director of Communications with the Canadian National Inuit Organization (ITK), always knew they wanted kids together, and talked about it early on in their relationship. Still, as gay men, they weren't sure that option would ever be available to them.

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The Inuit Custom Adoption Process was originally used in the small Inuit societies in the arctic, Kevin explained. It's primarily (though not exclusively) intended as a path for adoption within families. The process is legally recognized by the Canadian legal system.

As Kevin went on to explain, Inuit custom adoption was traditional used to support survival within, what were until quite recently, people living a nomadic lifestyle. It is, in essence, a deeply loving and selfless tradition of giving the gift of life to a carefully selected couple, most often with the guidance of elders (usually the matriarch within a family). If a couple couldn't conceive, for instance, others would sometimes offer their help. Similarly, if a couple lost a child, the grieving parents might be given a baby to help ease the ache of their loss. While most Inuit parents have zero intention of custom adopting their children to other families, adoption continues to be an established method in Inuit regions.

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As far as their parenting styles, the couple say they've drawn on each of their pasts. "Both Kevin and I had somewhat difficult childhoods and have spent a lot of time working through and dealing with childhood trauma," Keith said. "As a result, we are better parents and we continue to look after ourselves and each other as we continue to grow in parenthood."

Though the couple come from different cultures, they said they've had no difficulty developing a parenting approach that works for them both. "I don't think either of us raise Abbie in the same parenting style that we experienced," Keith said, "We both talked and agreed on our approach before Abbie was born and we work well together as a parenting couple."

The result is a parenting style that incorporates some elements of both of their backgrounds, Keith said. "Inuit culture tends to shower children in love and we certainly do that," said Kevin. From English-style parenting, the couple have also borrowed the tendency of English parents to be "pretty obsessive," Keith said, about routines, such as scheduling meals, naps and bedtimes.

Though life was good before Abbie joined the family, "now it's fantastic!" Keith said. "I feel like being a parent was what I was put on this earth to be." Because neither man ever expected to become fathers, moreover, both say they look at parenthood as a privilege rather than a right — a helpful perspective they suggest to other gay men considering fatherhood. "Parenthood is an amazing gift," Keith said, "But remember it's about them, not you — and they deserve the best start in life we can give them."

Though fatherhood came to them somewhat unexpectedly, Keith and Kevin say they couldn't be happier with the way things turned out. "When I reflect on our life together, and where we both came from, it is incredible to me that we are now married, content, and parents to our wonderful panik," Keith said, using the Inuktitut word for daughter. "We are totally blessed."


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The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

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