Gay Adoption

Gay Adoption: Paths To Fatherhood For Gay Men

I asked Dr. Gary Gates, the Williams Institute researcher of gay and lesbian families, about gay adoption statistics for single gay male-identified parents. "Unfortunately," he wrote me, “I don't have that kind of detail for single GBT male parents." But we do have this information for male-identified same-sex couples. In the 2013 American Community Survey, Dr. Gates explained, 8 percent of same-sex male couples are raising children under age 18. And among them, 27 percent have identified at least one of the children as an adopted child.


We also know that LGBT people are more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to adopt. According to 2013 research by Dr. Gates, in fact, same-sex couples raising children are four times more likely than their different-sex counterparts to be raising an adopted child. Around 16,000 same-sex couples are raising more than 22,000 adopted children in the US.

“For us, the choices were adoption or surrogacy," Harun Sinha told me, an adoptive father we introduced Gays With Kids readers to in an article this past January. “Other than the financial reasons—surrogacy is way more expensive—we didn't want to have to decide whose sperm we would use. We also wanted our kids to know they are adopted and that their birth family made the decision out of love to find a family for them."

Harun (on right) and Austin with their kids Ernie and Alfie

Adoption can be a long, difficult process for any type of family. But thanks to a patchwork of state laws and regulations in each state, the process can often be far more cumbersome for LGBT parents. According to the Family Equality Council, it is legal for an LGBT person, as an individual, to petition to adopt in any state in the union. But only 35 states and the District of Columbia currently permit same-sex couples to petition for adoption. While the law is often unclear in the remaining states, the legislatures in at least three have passed bills specifically limiting the ability for same-sex couples to adopt, including, most recently, a bill signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan earlier this month.

Even where adoption by same-sex parents is legal, complications can arise. For example, many birth parents specifically prohibit adoption by same-sex parents, as do some local and international agencies. Even in agencies that do accommodate LGBT parents, moreover, parents can still experience discriminatory attitudes by birth parents and adoption professionals.

“There were a lot of bumps in the road at the time when we were going through the [adoption] process," Harun said, echoing this sentiment. “And some really made us wonder if we should continue. But the end result is what we kept our mind set on. We have two adorable boys through adoption and we can't imagine they weren't supposed to be part of our life and family."

If you are thinking adoption may be right for you, “prepare yourself for the journey," Harun said. “It can be a lengthy process. Find supportive friends and network who can provide the support and be there – we found that incredibly helpful."

Resources for LGBT people considering adoption abound online. Check out the resources available by groups like the Human Rights Campaign and make sure you research the laws in your state through groups like the Family Equality Council. Thinking about adoption, but don't know where to start? Check out this Gays With Kids article detailing some important things to thinking about. And, of course, be sure to check out the many articles at Gays With Kids about GBT adoptive dads here.

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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."

Gay Dad Life

Gay Dad Creates a New Kind of LGBT Children's Book

Titled, "What Does a Princess Really Look Like?" the book differentiates itself from most other LGBT picture books. Namely, the story doesn't explain, clarify or justify its gay characters (who are dads). The characters are just a natural part of the story - the new normal.

Gay dad Mark Loewen's children's book debut made a splash in the children's LGBT literature pool this year.

Titled, "What Does a Princess Really Look Like?" the book differentiates itself from most other LGBT picture books. Namely, the story doesn't explain, clarify or justify its gay characters (who are dads). The characters are just a natural part of the story - the new normal.

"What Does a Princess Really Look Like?" is the story of Chloe, a girl who loves princesses. As she sets out to craft an imaginary princess out of paper, yarn, and colored pencils, she becomes disillusioned with the importance of beauty. Chloe realizes that the power of a princess is not in how she looks to others, but in the change she can affect around her. More than looks, her princess values knowledge, bravery, strength, assertiveness, and kindness.

"In a way, Chloe's experience is the LGBT experience," explains Loewen, "but I didn't realize this until after I finished the book. I grew up very concerned about how others saw me. Then I found my own happiness when I learned to look past other's opinions of me, and appreciate who and how I was."

Another key element of the message in this book comes at the end of the story. Chloe's dads help her realize what a princess is not: perfect. "Being OK with being imperfect has been one the most freeing lessons I've learned. And I want my daughter to get this message early on. We should aim to be the best we can, but if we aim to be perfect, we'll surely fail."

Loewen's book tour started in Provincetown, MA, during Family Week, a weeklong gathering of LGBT families, organized by Family Equality Council and Colage. "I can't describe what it feels like when I read my book to children who have LGBT parents, and when I turn to the page that shows Chloe dancing with her two dads. Their eyes sparkle with excitement as they see themselves in the story," Loewen describes.

Loewen's book was named one of 20 LGBT Books for Preschoolers to High School Kids in a post by the parenting site scareymommy.com. It was included in the online review magazine, Children's Bookwatch. Midwest Book Review described the book as, "A unique, entertaining, and iconoclastic picture story from beginning to end."

Bestselling author Rachel Simmons (The Curse of the Good Girl) praised "What Does a Princess Really Look Like?" for "helping girls expand their definition of what a princess can truly be." Katherine Wintsch, founder of The Mom Complex, endorsed the book for delivering "the right message at the right time for the next generation of brave young women." The librarian ran website, www.bendybookworm.com, described the book as "the beginning of a new Manifesto of Beauty for young girls."

Finally, www.mombian.com, a website for lesbian mothers, speaks to the LGBT aspect of Loewen's book. "I love that this is an LGBTQ-inclusive children's book with a message, but that the message isn't about LGBTQ identity. Not that that's not an important topic—but we LGBTQ parents and our children have multifaceted identities, and sometimes we want books that speak to other parts of us, while still showing families that look like ours."

Giving visibility to families with two dads is also Loewen's goal, and why he shares many of his family's experiences on Instagram and Facebook.

For more information about Mark Loewen and his upcoming projects visit his website. Mark is also the founder of www.bravelikeagirl.com, a website that helps parents who are raising girls.

"What Does a Princess Really Look Like?" is available on Amazon, or anywhere books are sold.

Fun

Check Out this Amazing Xmas Tree Cake Recipe By the Dad Behind "Preppy Kitchen"

We're thrilled to be working with John Kanell, the gay dad behind the popular "Preppy Kitchen" account, to bring you some amazing holiday recipes! First up: learn how to "paint with buttercream" in this incredible Christmas Tree Cake recipe

My husband and I love entertaining during the holidays, and a great cake is often the focal point for our gatherings. For this Christmas Tree Cake, I made a spicy gingerbread batter for the layers and piped a two-tone swirl of Italian meringue buttercream in between each layer. The red batch is spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, and cloves, while the white part is a mellow vanilla flavor. For those who don't know, Italian meringue buttercream is creamy, less sweet than your average frosting and PERFECT for cake decorating as it's quite smooth. I "painted" the tree on with a pallet knife and dusted it with confectioner's sugar for a snowy effect. My twin boys were mesmerized by the process as they watched from their highchairs. Maybe next year they'll be able to help out!


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Expert Advice

How to Get Your Little Ones to Eat (and Enjoy!) Their Vegetables

Meet David and Danny fathers and founders of Kekoa Foods sharing some tips on how to keep your little ones eating their healthy vegetables during the hecticness of the holidays.


Watch:

Tip Number 1 – Try to prepare your own meals with fresh ingredients. Doing so gives you better control over the amount of sugar, sodium and cholesterol you and your family consume.

Tip Number 2 – Experiment in your kitchen with herbs and spices you haven't used before. Some items we've added in recent years include cumin, tarragon, curry, turmeric and ginger. Start slowly, though, you can always add more next time.

Tip Number 3 – Use veggies instead of pasta to get more veggies in your diet. We like spaghetti squash, zucchini and beets for this purpose and toss them with our favorite sauce.

Tip Number 4 – Instead of adding cream to veggie dishes to get your kids to eat them, sprinkle them with just a touch of parmesan cheese and add fresh lemon juice. It enhances flavor without adding a significant amount of cholesterol or fat.

Sponsored

A 'Men Having Babies' Conference Started These Happy New Dads on Their Path to Parenthood

In the Bay Area? Sign up now for the next Men Having Babies Conference taking place this January 12-13!

Last year, after 12 years together, Jimmy Nguyen and Michael Duque were finally ready to become dads. And so in 2017 they began their journey to fatherhood. Little did they know how quickly that would become a reality. What began with a serendipitous sighting of an ad for an upcoming Men Having Babies conference resulted in the joyous birth of their son in October 2018. Here's their story.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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