Gay Adoption

Gay Adoption: All The Terms You Need to Know

Here are a list of terms for gay men, couples and singles, considering adoption.

Though no two adoptions are identical, they do all have one unfortunate thing in common: jargon, jargon and more jargon. For prospective gay dads just about to embark on the adoption process, we've put together a list of common terminology you're likely to encounter throughout your journey.

Did we miss any terms? Leave a comment below and we'll be sure to update the list!

Adoption Glossary

Adoption: A process in which an adult assumes the legal parenting responsibilities for another, usually a minor, from that person's biological or legal parents. The process is permanent and legally binding.

Adoption Agency: A public, private, or religious organization licensed with the state that connects birth parents and children who need families to adoptive parents. Agencies can be either for-profit or not-for-profit.

Adoption Placement: The point in an adoption process where a child begins to live with prospective adoptive parents.

Adoption Subsidies: Funds provided by federal or state governments to help adoptive parents offset some of the costs associated with adopting children who need special services.

“At-risk" Adoption: When adoptive parents accept placement of a child when the birth parents' rights have not yet been legally severed or when the appeal period has not yet expired.

Consent to Adopt: The legal agreement by a biological parent, legal guardian, or agency to relinquish all legal rights and duties to a child. In most states, consent must be in writing and notarized or executed before a judge.

Legal Custody: Someone with legal custody has the right, and legal obligation, to make decisions about a child's care and wellbeing. This includes decisions related to schooling, medical care, and religious upbringing. Even though a foster parent of agency has legal custody over a child, however, biological parents can retain their parental rights and might have full legal custody restored.

Decree of Adoption: The document that must be signed by a judge to finalize an adoption. A decree of adoption formally bestows full parental rights and obligations upon the adoptive parent, and terminates the rights and obligations of the birth parents.

Disruption: A term used to describe the termination of an adoption process prior to the finalization of the adoption. A disruption can happen for any number of reasons. An adoption agency may disrupt the adoption if adoptive parents are not complying with requirements, for instance, or adoptive parents themselves may choose to disrupt the adoption process. Some agencies have begun referring to this process as “re-homing."

Dissolution: A term used to describe the termination of an adoption after the finalization of the adoption. Dissolution is initiated by the adoptive parents, and usually occurs as a result of improper levels of education or information of the part of adoptive parents.

Domestic Adoption: The adoption of an infant from the United States with the help of an adoption agency or attorney.

Federal Adoption Tax Credit: Passed in 1997 under President Bill Clinton, this tax credit helps adoptive families offset the costs of adoption. The credit is applied once per adopted child. Some states also offer tax credits, providing an additional level of support.

Finalization Hearing: The last step in the adoption process, when a court issues a “decree of adoption," thus making the adoption permanent and binding. Depending on the jurisdiction, finalization hearings can take place anywhere between three months to a year after a child is placed with adoptive parents.

Foster Parent: An individual or couple who has temporary care of a child but has no legal rights in determining certain aspects of a child's life. As of now, no state in the country explicitly prohibits LGBT individuals from becoming foster parents. However, some states have taken steps to made the process more inclusive for LGBT foster parents.

Foster to Adopt: This refers to a placement in which the foster care parents plan to fully adopt the child if and when parental rights are terminated. Also called Foster-Adopt.

Guardian ad litem (GAL): A person appointed by a court to investigate what solutions would be “in the best interests of the child" in question. Courts sometimes use GALs to make custody recommendations. The (Latin) phrase ad litem means for the (law)suit."

Hague Adoption: The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (“Hague Convention") is a multi-country treaty enacted in 1993 that provides important safeguards to protect the best interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents who are involved in intercountry adoptions. It is designed to combat child trafficking within international adoptions.

Home Study: A process every prospective adoptive parent must complete to be able to legally adopt in the United States. A home study is comprehensive, and typically includes: inspections of the home of the adoptive parents, an evaluation of the relationship between the adoptive parents, the medical history of the adoptive parents, employment verifications, verification of financial status, and criminal background checks.

International Adoption: An international adoption refers to the adoption of a child who is a citizen of one country by adoptive parents who are citizens of a different country. (Very few countries allow adoption by same-sex parents.)

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC): Established in 1974, the ICPC established uniform procedures to govern the interstate placement of children. In The ICPC requires prospective adoptive parents who are involved in an adoption across state lines to comply with the adoption laws of the child's state of residence.

Independent Adoption: The process of pursuing an adoption without the help of an adoption agency. It is also known as a private adoption. Parents who pursue independent adoptions must still enlist the help of adoption lawyers and other professionals to help with the process. Independent adoptions are not legal in every state.

Joint Adoption: A legal process that allows two unmarried people to petition to adopt a child together at the same time.

Life Book: A resource social workers help adoptive parents create for their children to help explain their background and history. Life books, which are often illustrated, can sometimes be created with the help of birth parents.

Matching: An adoption matching refers to process social workers and other adoption professionals undergo to place a child with adoptive parents. Matches are made on the basis of any number of factors, such as the specific needs of the child and the wishes of the adoptive parents.

Multi-Ethnic Placement Act/Interethnic Placement Act (MEPA/IEPA): Taken together, these two laws, enacted in 1993 and 1996 respectively, remove race, ethnicity, and country of origin from consideration when adoption professionals consider adoption matches.

Open Adoption: A form of adoption where certain information is shared between birth and adoptive parents to maintain some level of connection. In an open adoption the level of contact between birth and adoptive parents can vary widely.

Parental Rights: The rights (such as decision-making abilities) and obligations (such as providing care and financial support) associated with being the legal parent of a child.

Post-Adoption Services: Services sometimes available to adoptive families, from therapists to financial planning, after the successful completion of an adoption.

Post-Placement Supervision: Following the placement of a child, but before the finalization of an adoption, a social worker will complete a series of home visits with the adoptive family. The specifics of post-placement supervision vary by state.

Private Adoption: See Independent Adoption.

Second Parent Adoption: A legal procedure by which a same-sex parent, regardless of whether he or she has a legally recognized relationship to the other parent, is able to adopt her or his partner's biological or adoptive child without terminating the first parent's legal status.

Special Needs Child (or Children): A child (or children) who may have mild to severe physical or mental needs. Some adoptive families of special needs children are eligible for subsidies to help accommodate the needs of the children.

Termination of Parental Rights: A legally binding process that eliminates a parent's rights and obligations to a child.

Waiting Children: A term used to describe children who will not return to their biological and legal guardians, and need permanent, adoptive homes.

Workplace Adoption Benefits: Benefits (such as reimbursements and parental leave) offered by some employers to employees who choose to adopt.

For more, read our article “6 Adoption Tips That Every Prospective Gay Dad Needs to Know."

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

Check out our article "7 Children's Books About Gay Dad Adoptive Families."

Show Comments ()
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.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Gay Dad Family Stories

After Meeting in Culinary School, These Gay Dads Are Creating a Wonderful Life Together, Using Simple Ingredients

Jason and Patrick live in Charlottesville, Virginia with their daughters, and run a successful French-inspired bakery.

These gay dads own a successful French-inspired bakery and restaurant located in historic Charlottesville, Virginia. Chef Jason Becton, 41, lives in Charlottesville (where Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello is situated) with his baker husband Patrick Evans, 36, and their two daughters, Marian and Betty; they together are the owners of MarieBette, a popular bakery-restaurant in downtown Charlottesville that specializes in European foods, especially in delicious pastries from France. "Our business has become a gathering place for Charlottesvillians and we feel very welcomed here," shared Patrick. "The majority of people know that it is a business owned by two men married to each other with two kids."

Keep reading... Show less
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!


Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

FOLLOW OUR FAMILIES

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse