Gay Adoption

Considering an Independent Adoption? What Gay Dads Can Expect

The 7 steps for gay men pursuing an independent adoption.

So you've decided to adopt. You've weighed the differences between an agency adoption and an independent (or private) adoption, and you've decided on the latter. So what can gay men who have chosen to pursue an independent adoption expect from the process?

Step 1: Find an LGBTQ-Competent Adoption Lawyer

Your first step in an independent adoption will be to find an adoption lawyer. These days, with the breadth of options available to prospective gay dads, it's no longer acceptable to be merely "LGBTQ-friendly." You should search for and hire a lawyer who is LGBTQ-competent, and has a proven track record working with LGBTQ families. Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong way to go about locating the right lawyer for you. Start conducting some research online, and ask any friends and family who have previously pursued an independent adoption about their experiences. Some national organizations, like the National LGBT Bar Association and Lambda Legal, may be able to offer recommendations as well. You should also reach out to your local LGBTQ community center or advocacy organization and ask for recommendations.

Regardless of where your recommendations come from, be sure to ask any potential lawyer you hire to share his or her history working with LGBTQ parents: how many of their previous clients have been LGBTQ families? Do LGBTQ families have longer wait times, on average, than their heterosexual clients? You may also want to ask to speak with your lawyer's previous LGBTQ clients to gain further insights into the experience.

Read: 5 Questions Gay Men Should Ask Adoption Agencies or Attorneys

State laws vary widely with respect to independent adoptions, so this step will be particularly important. Five states — Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and North Carolina — don't allow independent adoptions at all, and require all adoptive parents to work with a state-certified agency.

Step 2: Research State and Agency Laws & Regulations

Regardless of the path your choose, as a gay man or couple, it will be important for you to research the adoption laws governing your state as they vary. If you are adopting across state lines, moreover, you will need to understand the laws in both states. Though it is now legal for LGBTQ couples and individuals to petition to adopt in every state in the country, for instance, restrictions can still apply and the process can sometimes be overly complicated, particularly for single people or non-married couples. Your lawyer should be prepared to answer any questions you may have about state laws, and help navigate any potential issues.

Fortunately, since you are foregoing the services of an agency, you will not need to worry about any additional regulations beyond those required by state law. Many adoption agencies have standards beyond those required by state law. Some have age requirements, for instance, while others will refuse service to LGBTQ people or single men. Those pursuing an independent adoption, however, will not be subject to any agency regulations.

Step 3: Consider Hiring an Adoption Facilitator

If you pursue an agency adoption, a casework or social worker will be assigned to help guide you through the process. If you pursue an independent adoption, however, you will not have this built in support system. An adoption facilitator, where legally available, can help serve a similar function by helping match birth mothers with prospective adoptive parents. Facilitators are not regulated or licensed by any state agency, so if you choose to use one, be sure to get recommendations, and pick a reputable organization with a history of placing children with LGBTQ families.

Step 4: Complete the Home Study

The home study is required of every adoptive parent, regardless of whether you pursue an independent or agency adoption. In an independent adoption, you will be required to find and hire your own home study provider to conduct your home study. Your adoption lawyer should have recommendations on home study professionals.

The home study often causes prospective parents — gay or otherwise — considerable anxiety, but with some preparation, you can complete the process quickly and without difficulty. During the home study, you will be required to supply a series of documents, such as your driver's license, financial information and birth certificate. You will also have to pass several clearances, including a criminal background check, and a check into any previous child abuse and neglect. Your home study provider will also be required to help assess your fitness as a parent, and ensure your home is safe for a child.

In conducting home studies, social workers take many factors into consideration such as the age, preferences, and needs of the child. The particular requirements and average length of the home study will vary by state, so check with your agency or lawyer. In most states, after the home study is complete, you are considered a "waiting family," which means you have successfully completed your study and are approved to adopt.

Step 5: Start the Matching Process

Once you have completed your home study, it's time to begin the matching process. In an independent adoption, the birth mother, rather than an agency, will select the adoptive parents based on any number of factors, including your particular set of values, interests, personality, family history and stories, and pictures.

Unlike in an agency adoption, however, the job of finding a birth family will fall to you or an adoption intermediary, such as a facilitator. To help locate birth families, prospective parents can consider any number of tactics, such as buying advertisements in newspapers, setting up pages on social media, or creating personal websites. Once again, be sure to check with your adoption lawyer prior to starting the matching process; many states regulate or outright prohibit certain kinds of advertising in the adoption process.

Step 6: Get to Know the Birth Family

Many adoptive parents choose to pursue an independent adoption for the higher level of involvement that can exist between adoptive and birth families. Without an agency serving as intermediary, you and your birth mother will be allowed to customize the process to both of your liking.

Still, the method of communication between you and the birth mother might vary widely. You and/or the birth family may wish to keep communication to a minimum, and will perhaps communicate only infrequently. Other situations may involve more extensive communication with both the birth mother and her family. It will be up to you and the birth family to determine the type and amount of communication that works best for you.

Step 7: Finalize Your Adoption

After being officially matched with your birth mother, the next step is to finalize your adoption after the birth of the baby. In some instances, the finalization will occur at the hospital, as soon as the baby is born. In others, however, it can take weeks or even months before the finalization is complete.

Before an adoption can be finalized, some states require a "revocation" period during which the birth parents have the right to terminate the adoption agreement. This period can last anywhere from several hours to months after the birth of a child. After this waiting period, you will enter the "post-placement" phase of your adoption. During these months, your adoption agency will likely remain the legal guardian of the child while your social worker continues to visit your home to check in on you and your new family.

After the post-placement phase, which can last up to a year, the finalization of the adoption will occur in court. Though the surroundings can seem intimidating — in a courtroom, in front of a judge — finalization hearings are mostly a legal formality. It simply provides the judge an opportunity to verify that the birth parents have voluntarily terminated their parental rights and that you've complied with all state adoption laws.

Celebrate!

Need some ideas on how to celebrate the big day? Stay tuned to Gays With Kids for stories and pictures of gay dads completing their adoptions.

The information included above is educational, and is not meant to substitute for legal advice. Not adopting independently? Check out the commons steps gay men can expect when adopting a newborn through an agency as well!

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Gay Adoption

Adopting in the United States: A Guide for Gay Couples and Singles

Thinking about adopting in the United States? Check out this overview of domestic adoption for gay men.

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.

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Gay Adoption

How Much Does Adoption Cost Gay Dads?

Gays With Kids answers financial questions for gay dads and dads-to-be: How much does an adoption cost?

In the United States, there are two most common types of adoption: independent or private adoption, and agency adoption. Both come with different price tags.

Independent or private adoption is when the birth parents place the child directly with the adoptive parent or parents without an agency or intermediary. Parents who pursue independent adoption must still enlist the help of adoption lawyers and other professionals to help with the process. Three states do not allow independent adoption - Colorado, Connecticut and Delaware.

An agency adoption is more or less what it sounds like: you will select and work with a state-certified adoption agency throughout your entire adoption journey. It is legal in all 50 states.

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Gay Adoption

10 Tips for Saving for Adoption

For gay men, creating our families can be expensive. Here are some ideas to help you save for your adoption.

There's little argument that having a family in the U.S is expensive. But for gay men, creating a family can be even more complicated and expensive than it is for our straight counterparts. An adoption process can set you back anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000. You might find yourself asking, “How can anyone afford that?" The answer is: The majority of us don't. Those of us that do are forced to find the necessary funds by making savvy financial decisions. Here are some of our suggestions for doing so:

1. Create a Budget (and Stick to it!)

Perhaps the most obvious tip (and we'll break it down further) but don't underestimate the power of saving money where you can. Start paying attention to where your dollars are going – from that morning cup of joe when you're on the run to the bought lunches everyday at work. All of those small purchases add up!

Are you used to eating out regularly? Don't! Cut eating out or date nights to once a month and make it extra special. And extra special doesn't have to mean extra expensive. Think local delicious restaurant, preferably BYOB, and turn your phones off – make it count.

"It is so important to cut any unnecessary spending," shared Edward (not his real name), father of a 1-year-old daughter through adoption. "Keep your goals in sight and plan for the future."

Helpful hint 1: Make your coffee in a to-go cup before you leave the house; take a packed lunch with you to work. Sound simple? That's because it is!

Helpful hint 2: Set aside a change jar and put all your coins in it. At the end of every month, you'll get to hear the sweet sound of "ka-ching" as you put them through the coin machine.

Helpful hint 3: Plan your meals and stick to a grocery budget. Make a list (check it twice) and then don't go off it at the grocery store. Also, use coupons to further cut down on your grocery expenses.

Helpful hint 4: Cut home expenses: Get a less expensive data plan for your mobile phone. Stop wasting electricity. Turn down your A/C. Don't buy the newest phone model. Choose a basic cable package or cut the cord completely and use one online streaming service instead. You probably don't need Amazon Prime Video, HBO, Hulu AND Netflix. I mean, how much free time do you have? Amiright?

"It's crazy how much you can save by not eating out, not going out with friends, couponing and sticking to a grocery list," said Ben, dad of two boys through adoption.

​2. Open a Savings Account (and Put Money in it)

Start getting into the habit of transferring money into a separate (preferably hard to touch) savings account every payday. Figure out how much you can afford to save and transfer it as soon as you can.

"We set up a budget where we saved and automatically deducted money from our paychecks into a savings account," explained Ben.

3. Apply for an Adoption Grant

Did you know that there are nonprofits ready and waiting to help couples and singles create their family through adoption? Well, they really do exist! Check out Helpusadopt.org, an organization that offers up to $15,000 for families regardless of martial status, sexual orientation, race, religion, gender or ethnicity. Grants are awarded three times a year. So what are you waiting for? Fill out your application today!

​4. Refinance your Mortgage

Did you buy a house when the interest rates were higher than they are now? Refinance and pocket the difference into your savings account. The same goes for student loans. Shop around folks, shop around.

5. Save your Tax Refund

Ben and his husband used their tax refund as a starting-off point for their savings. But make sure that you're paying the correct tax rate so you don't get a nasty surprise in April. And the adoption tax credit?

"Tax benefits for adoption include both a tax credit for qualified adoption expenses paid to adopt an eligible child and an exclusion from income for employer-provided adoption assistance. The credit is nonrefundable, which means it's limited to your tax liability for the year. However, any credit in excess of your tax liability may be carried forward for up to five years." – IRS

6. Rent Out a Room (or your Entire House)

If you have a spare room in your home, consider renting it out for a year. Or sign up for AirBnB and play host to vacationers.

​7. Raise Money

From Kickstarter to IndieGoGo to GoFundMe, there are lots of options to put it all out there and ask others for financial donations. Read the Gays With Kids article on crowdfunding.

8. Find your Talent; Get Creative!

We're not all blessed with talents that result in piles of money, but we all have personal interests. These dads turned their passion for renovating and flipping homes into their key ingredient for saving for adoption. Time to start thinking how to turn your skill into a paid resource.

No untapped talent to speak of? Get a second job or try selling some of your things that you no longer need in a yard sale or on Craigslist.

"Get a second job, budget and start living as if you have that child," advised Ben, whose two adoptions cost $71,000 in total. "Children cost money once they get here. Change [your lifestyle] now and save that money!"

9. Check your Employee Benefits

See if your employer provides any financial assistant to families who adopt, and if they don't already, consider speaking with your HR department. For example, active duty military personnel may be eligible for a $2000 reimbursement.

​10. Ask your Relatives

This isn't possible for everyone but for those who can, consider asking your family for help. Relatives often don't realize how much an adoption costs, but once they do, your parents (or grandparents or loaded uncle) might want to help. It could be by way of a low or interest-free loan, or as a gift. This might be your last option, but it's worth giving a go.

"If you are close to your family, think about asking them for help, if it's within their financial means," said Edward whose one adoption cost $36,000.

Bonus: Consider Foster-to-Adopt

Foster-to-adopt can be a totally free option but it can come with its own set of hurdles. Ultimately you have to decide what the best path to fatherhood is for you.

** The path you choose to create your family is a very personal one. Gays With Kids supports you, whatever your particular path to fatherhood. Check out our "Becoming a Gay Dad" section for the different paths, and please keep us posted on your journey! **

For more, read our article Adoption Glossary Terms Every Adoptive Gay Dad Needs to Know."

And read Agency or Independent Adoption: Which Should Gay Dads Choose?"

Don't forget to read our indispensable guide to adoption:Paths to Gay Fatherhood: The Adoptive Dad."

Change the World

Rebel Dad: 1st Gay Canadian to Adopt Internationally Writes New Memoir

David McKinstry set a legal precedent in 1997. A few years later, with his second husband, Michael, he did so again when they became the first gay Canadian couple to co-adopt children.

Excerpt #1 – From Chapter 1: The Search (1793 Words)

As the first openly gay Canadian man approved to adopt internationally, David McKinstry set a legal precedent in 1997. A few years later, with his second husband, Michael, he did so again when they became the first gay Canadian couple to co-adopt children.

The following is an excerpt from the first chapter of his new book Rebel Dad: Triumphing Over Bureaucracy to Adopt to Orphans Born Worlds Apart. Here, it's 1998 and David finds himself in India. While in India, David visits several orphanages with his guide, Vinod, on his quest to adopt. With Indian adoption officials being extremely homophobic at the time, David could not reveal that he was a gay man.

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Vinod [my guide while I was in India] was standing outside my bedroom door when I emerged looking ashen. I handed him the list of five orphanages I had scheduled appointments with that day.

The first was a state-run facility, Delhi Council for Child Welfare. The building rose up in front of us as we drove into an upscale neighborhood with white stucco houses, each lot divided by rows of fifty-foot-high trees. The narrow streets of this cul-de-sac were cobblestoned; the laborers who swept the streets spotless would take home only a few rupees for their daylong effort.

Nisha, the director of this facility, was a stunningly beautiful thirtyish woman with a kind and gentle manner as she greeted me and then led me to her office. She had just placed a child the previous month with a family in Ottawa and she was happy to see another Canadian inquiring about adoption. Scanning through my file, Nisha asked me thoughtful questions while frequently making encouraging observations about my readiness to adopt children. However, after thirty minutes, she announced that this orphanage's charter denied single people, widowed or not, from adopting their children. She suggested I visit Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity orphanage, just up the road and the next place on my list. Nisha asked if I was Christian and gave me a warm, bright smile when I replied, "Indeed I am." After a short walk around the compound full of nicely dressed and happy-looking children playing under tall shade trees, she bid me goodbye and good wishes for a successful adoption.

Vinod drove me directly to the Missionaries of Charity compound. A garden worker opened the gate for the taxi to enter and fifty preschool children and two nuns instantly surrounded us. Vinod spoke to the first nun, who motioned him to move the car forward and for me to follow her to the office. The taxi drove slowly through the crowd of excited children playing tag with the car. Once inside the building, I was directed to sit in a small waiting room at the far end of a dimly lit corridor. As we entered the hallway leading to the waiting room, I gazed into a large room on my right filled with cribs housing at least fifty cooing or crying babies. The dank, cool air of this old cinderblock building was a relief from the oppressive heat outside in the courtyard. I was left wondering if these babies had ever seen the moon and the sun or had the chance to breath fresh morning air.

Dressed in a full habit, the head nun, Sister Joyce, came to greet me. I mentioned Nisha's name and told Sister Joyce I'd come to see her about adopting children. She showed no expression and her locked-tight lips gave me the impression I was in the presence of someone who didn't waste time on niceties. She motioned for me to follow her into an office off the open-air courtyard. She sat down behind an oversized desk, quickly scanned through my portfolio of home-study documents and after five dead-silent minutes said, "What you want?"

I told her my well-rehearsed story, which the Canadian adoption officials had dreamed up: I was a widower, and my late wife, Nicci, had begged me prior to her death to go ahead with plans to adopt children from India. I told Sister Joyce that I loved children and was able to afford to give children a wonderful, loving home in Canada. After twenty minutes talking about my reasons for wanting to adopt she began to loosen up. However, she said that being a widower still meant I was a single man in the eyes of the Indian judiciary and very few orphanages would give me a child.

"Why not you get married again?" she asked. I just shrugged and handed her photos of my home, Woodhaven, and my life in Canada. After a quick gaze at the pictures and a chuckle over the dogs she said, "I think you good man. Want to see children?" I stood up and nodded eagerly.

She walked in front of me and led me into a room like the nursery I'd passed when I first entered the building. Sister Joyce informed me that three helpers were preparing lunchtime formula and Pablum for sixty babies and if I wanted to help feed one or more of them I could. I was overjoyed at being asked to help care for these youngsters.

"Are these babies available for adoption? Would I be able to adopt one or two of your babies?" I asked her wide-eyed with joyous anticipation of her saying yes. "These babies were orphaned at birth and it is okay for a Canadian to adopt our babies. Maybe you like one of these children?" she smiled up at me. My gosh! I had no idea it would be this easy. One of the helpers motioned for me to follow her into the kitchen and she put a bowl of Pablum in my hands. Sister Joyce handed me a baby from one of the cribs and told me to feed this little boy. I spent the next hour feeding children from the cribs amid the smiles and chuckles of the nuns and helpers. I wondered what they were saying to each other about this Canadian man who wanted so fervently to adopt children.

Vinod was brought into the nursery by the nun who had greeted us at the gates of the compound. While he stood there watching me, I had two or three youngsters crawling up my pant legs and another two scrambling up my arms. They just didn't want to let go of a prospective parent. As I fumbled to balance all the children, the supervising nun walked past me toward a young boy, who looked about three years old, trying to escape from his crib. She smacked him across the face and pushed him back into the crib. He didn't cry or flinch. I was horrified but knew if I confronted the nun, I risked being asked to leave and not return.

Vinod smiled as he stood beside me in the nursery and asked if one of these children was going to be mine? I could feel my smile widening from ear to ear and whispered that I thought Sister Joyce liked me because she had invited me to visit the children and help feed them. Vinod smiled and said, "You look happy with baby." He mentioned if we were still going to make the next appointments we had to leave within thirty minutes or be late.

As I placed the children back in their cribs, they shrieked and cried while reaching up to be held again. It was painfully obvious that they didn't have much tender time in human arms, except for ten minutes of feeding three times each day. I walked back through the long inner hallway past an office where Sister Joyce was talking with a blond-haired Caucasian man and woman.

"They from Norway," she said as I peeked into the room to say goodbye. I told her I had to go to another appointment but asked if I could come back later to help with suppertime. As I left the building and entered the compound, I was swarmed by 100 children all looking to be less than five years of age. They were playing in the dirt piles of the compound and when they saw me they rushed over and grabbed at me to pick them up. On one hand it was exhilarating to have all this attention from so many adoptable children, but Vinod came over and pulled them off, so I could get into the taxi.

"They want to go with you," he said. "These children always do this to white people who might adopt them." To experience clinging children trying to climb into my arms was gut-wrenching, and I could feel tears welling in my eyes. The taxi drove out of the compound amid wails from the children who hadn't yet touched me. I wondered how the nuns and helpers managed to be calm surrounded by orphans clamoring for constant attention.

By 6 p.m. I had visited five institutions. Only the Missionaries of Charity orphanage had given me any indication I might be considered as an adoptive parent. Two Catholic missions had curtly refused to consider me because I was single and male. Another state-run group told me that due to infertility on the rise in India, Indian couples and Indian nationals living abroad were given first right of refusal. One official apologized and said I would be the last person to be considered because they didn't give children to single men or women.

I returned to Sister Joyce's compound and told Vinod that I'd stay for a few hours feeding the children. He agreed to wait when I told him I'd treat him to supper on the way back to my hotel.

I entered the nursery and found several older nuns feeding the children and changing the diapers of those standing at the sides of the cribs. If a child wasn't being fed, he or she was crying alone. Some cribs held two or three babies. Without delay I grabbed a bib and a bowl of paste-like stew from a large pot in the adjoining kitchen area and began to feed babies in the row nearest me. Some of the nuns were quite brusque in handling the children. I watched one nun walk down a center aisle of cribs and slap eighteen-month-olds on the cheeks for standing up in their cribs. Appalled by this abuse, I again had to grit my teeth in silent indignation.

I cradled and sang to a pair of crib-sharing babies simultaneously. Two nuns walked by and smiled like angels looking down from on high. I was desperate to make a good impression on the nuns and Sister Joyce. As I looked into the eyes of the children, Elsbit and Lampai, cradled in my arms, I whispered, "I'd take the two of you home to Canada tomorrow if Sister Joyce would let me." Had I become a rebel with a cause? My cause being to return to Canada with multiple orphans from India to raise as my children. Imagining myself arriving home with children, greeting Michael and us becoming a family was the fuel that fired my defiant determination and had been at the root of my recalcitrant attitude toward changing the system for decades so I, as a gay man, could live out my dream to become a parent. My journey to fatherhood was not going to be a quick, easy sprint to the finish line, but instead a lengthy mountainous marathon.

Change the World

Are You a Bisexual Dad? Gays With Kids Wants to Tell Your Story!

After a recent reader pointed out our lack of stories featuring bi men, we're reaching out to try to increase exposure for the bi dad community!

Recently, Gays With Kids received the following message via one of our social media channels:

"Hey guys, love what you do. But where are your stories about bi men who are dads? Do they not exist? I get the sense from your page that most queer dads identify as gay. I identify as bi (or pansexual) and want to become a dad one day, but just never see my story represented. Are they just not out there?"

We can say with resounding certainly that YES bisexual dads absolutely exist. In fact, of all the letters in our acronym, far more LGBTQ parents fall into the "b" category than any other.

But our reader is certainly right in one respect--we don't hear the stories of bisexual/pansexual dads told nearly often enough. While we occasionally find stories to tell about bi dads, like this great one from earlier this year from a dad who just came out, we otherwise aren't often finding stories of bi dads nearly as easy as we do gay dads. We're sure this is due to any number of reasons--societal pressure to stay closeted from both the straight and LGBTQ communities along with erasure of bisexuality both come to mind.

But it's also because we haven't done the best job reaching out specifically to the bi dad community! We hope to change that. So if you are a bi man who is a father (or wants to become a father) and in a relationship with a man OR woman (or are single!) we want to hear from you! Click here so we can help tell your story and increase exposure for the bi dad community, or drop us a line at dads@gayswithkids.com!

Change the World

Two Clinics in Netherlands to Start Offering IVF Services to Gay Couples and Surrogate Mothers

At least two Dutch IVF clinics say they will serve gay couples in 2019 for the first time, according to a current affairs show

According to Pink News, the Netherlands will be the next country to offer IVF treatment to gay couples, starting next year. The news was first reported on a current affairs show De Monitor that undertook a survey of the country's fertility clinics. They found two facilities who have agreed to provide IVF treatment in the coming year.

This will add the Netherlands to the short list of countries in which gay couples seeking to use surrogacy to start their families won't have to look abroad to do so.

The article quotes a local clinician as saying on the show: "I think it's crazy that gay couples, but also women who have medical issues, have to go abroad to fulfil their desire to have children, while all medical and technical expertise and knowledge is in house."

Dutch gay couples may still face some legal headaches, however. According to Dutch Law, Pink News writes, the person that gives birth to the child is the legal parent. While the law was updated in 2014 to allow a non-biological lesbian parent to claim guardianship over her child, no such accommodation has yet been made for gay couples. They will still need to seek a court's approval before gaining legal parenting writes until the law is changed.

Read the article here.

Change the World

1 in 8 Adoption in the U.K. By Same-Sex Couples, According to New Stats

According to data recently released by the Department of Education in the U.K., 450 of the 3,820 adoption in 2018 were by same-sex couples

A record-breaking one in eight adoptions are completed by same-sex couples in England, according to the country's Department for Education, and a recent write up in Gay Star News. Specifically, 450 of the 3,820 adoption that have occurred in 2018 so far have been completed by same-sex couples.

The rate has been increasing year of year. This year, nearly 12% of adoptions were completed by same-sex couple, whereas the rate was 9.6% in 2016 and 8.4% in 2015.

"LGBT+ people can bring fantastic parenting skills to their adopted children," Tor Docherty Chief Executive of New Family Social told Gay Star News. "We're thrilled to see agencies consistently recognising that LGBT+ people pay a key role in helping transform the lives of our most vulnerable children."

Read the full story here.

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