Gay Adoption

Can Gay Men Adopt in the United States?

The short answer is yes, gay men can adopt in the United States. However, second parent adoption and stepparent adoption laws differ state-to-state.


The short answer is yes, gay men can adopt in the United States. However, prospective adoptee parents are advised to look at their own state laws and legislations for second parent and stepparent adoption laws.

When the Supreme Court struck down all bans on same-sex marriage on June 26, 2015, the way was paved for gay adoption to become legal across the country. On March 31, 2016, a Mississippi federal judge ruled that the state's ban on same-sex couples adoption was unconstitutional, making Mississippi the last state to have such a law overturned. Since then, gay adoption has been legal in all 50 states and Washington, DC.

Although gay adoption is legal, there are states in America that permit state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse to provide services to LGBT people and same-sex couples. These include Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, Michigan and North and South Dakota.

Adoption laws are primarily set at the state level, so it is important to research the laws in your particular state to determine the exact steps necessary for adoption. This article is intended to be a general guide and should not be construed as legal advice.

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For more gay adoption related articles, check out these resources and stories.

How do you know if your adoption agency is LGBTQ-friendly? Gay men looking to adopt should ask these questions to find professionals with a proven track record of success working with LGBTQ parents.

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Thinking about adoption? Gay men have more opportunities and options than ever before, but to be successful it is vital to know your options and understand the landscape of adoptions today. Here's an overview of domestic adoption for gay men, both couples and singles.

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These gay men became dads through adoption and whole-heartedly agree that it was worth the wait.

Mitch and Jake live in Asheville, North Carolina, a small city affectionately nicknamed, "the San Francisco of the East Coast." They were married on May 23, 2014, and have been together for over 10 years. Mitch, 38, works in event planning and runs his own business from home. Jake, 32, is a scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They're new adoptive dads to 5-month-old twins, Aiden and Andrew. Read their story.

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After multiple scam attempts, bizarre leads, and a birth mom's change of heart, Jason and Alex finally became dads.

Photo credit: Dale Stine

Every gay man who pursues fatherhood fights for their right to become a dad. They've had to keep going even when at times it's seemed hopeless. Jason Hunt-Suarez and Alex Suarez's story is no different. They had their hearts set on adoption; overcame multiple scams, some very bizarre leads, a birth mother's change of heart at the 11th hour, their adoption agency going bankrupt, and tens of thousands of dollars lost along the way. But after a long, turbulent, and heart-wrenching three-year-long journey, it was all worth it.

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Riley Kinnane-Petersen is 9 years old, enjoys playing tennis, being with friends, has a pet cat, and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her two dads, John Petersen and William Kinnane. She's also the official Creative Director of a successful jewelry line she founded with the help of her dads. Two years ago, John even quit his day job to assist in the day-to-day operations of the jewelry company.

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This is our adoption story.

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Study Finds Two-Thirds of Gay Dads Experienced Stigma in Last Year

The study also found that over half of gay dads have avoided certain social situations in the last year for fear of experiencing stigma.

According to new research by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the vast majority of gay men and their children experience some form of stigma. The findings are based on a survey of 732 gay father across 47 states in the United States.

More gay men are becoming fathers each year, and have more options for doing so than ever before: including adoption, foster care, and surrogacy. However as the study's authors write: "Despite legal, medical, and social advances, gay fathers and their children continue to experience stigma and avoid situations because of fear of stigma. Increasing evidence reveals that stigma is associated with reduced well-being of children and adults, including psychiatric symptoms and suicidality"

Almost two-thirds of respondents, or 63.5%, reported experiencing stigma based on being a gay father within the last year. Over half, or 51.2%, said they have avoided situations for fear of stigma, in the past year. Importantly, the study found that fathers living in states with more legal protections for LGBTQ people and families experienced fewer barriers and stigma. Most experiences of stigma (almost 35%) occurred, unsurprisingly, in a religious environment. But another quarter of gay dads said they experienced stigma from a wide variety of other sources, including: family members, neighbors, waiters, service providers, and salespeople

Surprisingly (or perhaps not?) another source of stigma cited by the study originates from other gay men. "Gay men report suspicion and criticism for their decision to be parents from gay friends who have not chosen parenthood." The study also says gay dads often feel "isolation in their parental role."

The study concludes, "Despite growing acceptance of parenting by same-gender adults, barriers and stigma persist. States' legal and social protections for lesbian and gay individuals and families appear to be effective in reducing experiences of stigma for gay fathers."

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I literally never thought I'd see the day. Literally.

Gay fathers on the cover of Parents Magazine! Gay fathers being celebrated in a "main stream" publication about being parents. Gay fathers!

I don't want to get overly dramatic here, but this is a milestone. A massive cultural milestone.

Sure, gay dads have come a long way in being accepted in our popular culture, but to my eye we've never been on the cover of a big popular parenting magazine celebrating our parenting skills. As if we are the norm.

We are now - thanks to Parents Magazine.

This is a particular milestone for me because I have a bit of a history with the magazine and with parenting publications in general. My first job out of grad school was in brand marketing at Johnson's Baby Products where I did indeed run advertising in this particular magazine. Back then though we only featured married, straight couples. There were no other kinds of parents to feature back in the day! And if I'm to be really honest, they were generally white, married, straight couples.

I distinctly remember one photo shoot where I forgot to put a wedding ring on the "husband's" finger and we had to reshoot it. No photoshop back then!

Now admittedly this was before I was a dad and before I was out, but as the years went by and I embraced my own journey as a gay dad, there were no role models or pop culture markers to say that I (and other gay dads) were accepted. There were no Andy Cohens publicly making baby announcements. We were alone on our parenting.

It was hard. There was a constant barrage of straight parenting norms that constantly reminded us that we were different.
Not any more! Being a gay dad, or any dad, is now simply being a parent. A good parent. A loving parent. And we have Parents Magazine to thank for the reminder and endorsement, with hopefully more to come.

And I can't help but think, and actually know, that this kind of normalization will inspire the next generation of gay dads who will simply accept, without hesitation, that fatherhood as a gay man is a real, accepted, and normal option.

Bravo!

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