Become a Gay Dad

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."

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11 Family Stories That Show the Depth of the Adoption Experience for Gay Men

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! To celebrate, we've curated some adoption stories that show the true depth and breath of the adoption experience for gay men.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! And few people are more aware of the importance of lifting up and celebrating adoption in this country than the LGBTQ community. According to the Williams Institute, 21% of same-sex couples are raising adopted children compared to just 3% of different-sex couples. Despite the fact that we are a crucial part of the support system for children needing loving homes, we are currently facing an administration that is trying to make it legal for foster care and adoption agencies to discriminate against us on the basis of religion.

To help celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month, and demonstrate that religious beliefs should in never trump the ability for a loving LGBTQ family to welcome children into their home, we've rounded up several family stories that show the true depth and breath of the adoption experience — men who never planned to become dads, and woke up one day to find themselves responsible for little ones. Men who always wanted to become dads, and suffered through years of failed placements before finally making their dreams come true. Single men, who realized they were strong enough to adopt on their own. And men who adopted older children through the foster care system.

These are just a few of the inspiring stories of gay, bi and trans adoptive dads — we are literally sitting on a treasure trove of them. And, no doubt, there are countless more headed your way in the months to come.

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Popular

"We're Dads, the Greatest Thing We've Ever Been": Congrats to Gay Men Whose Families Recently Grew!

Wishing all of these gay dads whose families expanded a lifetime of happiness! Congrats to everyone in our community on their recent births and adoptions!

Gay men go through a lot of ups and downs on the path to parenthood. It can be one of the most emotionally draining times in our lives. But as each of these families who are celebrating births and adoptions this month agree: it's worth every hardship.

Congrats to the dads whose families grew this month!

Congratulations to dads Ryan and Sebastian on the birth of their son, Máximo!!

Ryan and Sebastian's path to fatherhood was through surrogacy and their journey took nearly five years from start to finish. "There were many ups and downs and we almost gave up — but are so glad we didn't!"

"Holding Máximo for the first time was something we will never forget," shared Ryan. "He was looking up at us and we were just overcome with love and joy."

This new family of three live in Long Island City, New York.

Congratulations to dads Andy and Mike on their birth of their son Bennett!

In July this year, Andy and Mike became first time dads through surrogacy when they welcomed their son Bennett.

"We are absolutely in love with our baby Bennett! He's doing awesome and his Daddy and Papa have been rewarded with a lot of big smiles! He sleeps a lot and is generally relaxed as he learns about the world around him. He's made us happier than we knew possible and we feel incredibly blessed that he is the culmination of our wonderful surrogacy journey."

Even though their son is only 3 months old, they're already starting to think about and plan for his sibling! Congrats dads!

Congratulations to dads Bryan and Zachary on the birth of your son Spencer!

Three years ago, husbands Bryan and Zachary moved from New York City to Dallas, Texas to start a family.

"Like for most, our journey had many uncertainties with ups and downs along the way," said Bryan. "When you stop and really think about everything that goes into the process and has to take place, it's a true miracle and we feel blessed."

On August 26 this year, their son Spencer was born through surrogacy. "Patience, hope, support and remembering what's eventually to come helped my husband and I during the most stressful times. Now that Gates is here, it's hard to even look back."

"Holding Gates for the first was a true miracle - my husband and I finally took a breath. At that moment, the three of us created our new family and everything was exactly how it was supposed to be."

Congratulations to dads John and Ryan on finalizing the adoption of their son Connor!

When John and Ryan in 2004, they both knew they wanted to be parents. They were married in 2005 and started their journey as foster parents in 2009. They first became dads when their son Cody, then an infant, came to live with them. His adoption was finalized in 2013.

"After Cody's adoption, we 'closed' our home and actually moved a few times before joining the foster parent community again in 2018. When we decided to look to foster and adopt again, Cody was fully on board and that was a big part of our discussions about timing."

Their son Conner was placed with them as an infant in May 2018. Connor's adoption was finalized on October 16, and he was 19 months old at the time.

"Adoption day was a whirlwind," shared John. "We were first on the docket for the judge and he made quick work of finalizing his placement and formally making Connor a member of the family!"

The forever family of four live in San Antonio, Texas and would love to connect with other families like theirs.

Congratulations to dads Matt and Ian on the birth of their son Rocco!

Denver couple Matt and Ian had been dreaming of the day when they'd become dads. The husbands have been together going on 8 years, married for 5, and had picked out their son's name even before they were married.

"The journey to fatherhood has been a long and emotional one," shared Matt. "After our first fertility clinic placed roadblocks in front of us for almost two years, we changed to a new once and suddenly found ourselves on a pace far quicker towards fatherhood. We engaged a surrogacy agency to find our gestational carrier after two attempts to do it ourselves, and ended up with someone who was so far and beyond what we ever could have imagined, we cannot imagine the journey without her. We call her our angel not just because of her selfless act but for her guidance along the way as a mother herself."

From their first 13 embryos, one little one tried to hang on but didn't quite make it to the end. After several years of trying up, they decided to give it one more go and were able to produce 6 eggs, one of which resulted very quickly into a multiplying, healthy and genetically viable embryo - the last of 19 attempts. "The day we found out that our little bundle of cells had matured, we unexpectedly lost my Grandfather on the same day – a stark reminder of the cycle that is life. We gave our son the middle name of Keen as it was one of my late grandfather's signature words to use. 'Oh, that's so keen...' is a phrase I can still hear him saying to me as a child."

On July 26, the dads welcomed their son Rocco! "We are blessed now with a sleeping, funny, expressive and engaged little spirit in our lives. The process was tough, emotional and downright exhausting. The moment he showed up though, let out a scream then looked at his with his funny little furled brow, every single appointment, lost night's sleep, worry and tear was collectively worth it. We are Dads … and that is simply the greatest thing we have ever been."

Congratulations to Travis and Jay on finalizing the adoption of their son Kathan!

Travis and his husband Jay began their path to fatherhood a little over three years ago when they began the certification process to adoption through the foster care system. "After a little over a year and a half in the making we got the call on June 3rd 2018 at 11:30am. That day changed our lives in so many beautiful ways," said Travis.

At just 4 days old, the dads brought their son Kathan home, and 16 months later, they celebrated his adoption being finalized. "It felt like we had been set free as a family for the first time."

Kathan's adoption day was incredibly personal for the dads so they spent it with close family and took Kathan out for celebratory brunch.

Congrats to this Orange County forever family of three.

Congratulations to dad Derek and Zack on the birth of their daughter Georgia!

On October 18, 2019, dads Derek and Zack, and big brother Hank, welcomed Georgia to the family. The family is over the moon!

"Zack and I were lucky to be able to work with the same surrogate that helped us with our son Hank," said Derek. Their family journey experienced a significant setback when one of their fertility clinic's embryo storage tanks malfunctioned, and they lost all their genetic material - 11 fertilized embryos - that Derek's sister and Zack had donated to create their family. Luckily, Derek's sister was incredible and happily flew out to donate her beautiful genes again.

"Our family is truly the living embodiment of the love of our extended family and our carrier Raelene (and her family) have for us and our dream to meet our children. Meeting Georgia, for me, was the realization of all those feelings of love and hope we felt throughout our journey."

Congrats to this San Francisco family of four!

Congratulations to dads Rob and Scott on the birth of their daughter Sierra!

Rob and Scotty's journey to fatherhood started in December 2014, and they became first time dads eighteen months later when their son Ryder was born through surrogacy. In early October this year, they welcomed their daughter, Sierra, also through surrogacy.

"Holding her for the first time was amazing and warmed our hearts completely," shared Scotty. "Our son loves his baby sister and is very protective of her!!"

Huge congrats to this Sacramento family!

Congratulations to dads Brian and John on the birth of their son Weston!

Brian Wall and his fiancé John Agricola live in Toronto, Canada, and they recently welcomed their son Weston into the world on November 13.

"Our path to fatherhood was made a little simpler because my first cousin offered to be our surrogate," said Brian. "It took about a year total from picking an egg donor and our first successful embryo transfer on March 13."

When the dads first held their son they both agreed it was the most emotional experience they've ever had. "So grateful to our surrogate and he is a healthy boy!!"

Congrats to this new family of three, and can't wait to see wedding photos from your upcoming nuptials!

Congratulations to Ricky and Jeff on finalizing the adoption of their daughter Kylie!

Ricky and Jeff finalized the adoption of their youngest on November 8, the biological sister to their son Kadyn.

"Her birth mom knew that she couldn't take care of her and wanted us to have her," shared Ricky. "We went through the county again and we were able to adopt Kylie 6 months after her birth. The extra cool experience this time around was the fact that we were invited to be there to be part of the birth."

To be finalize Kylie's adoption was "amazing" said the dads. "It means that nothing and no one can do or say anything that would effect her being with us, which almost happened about a month before the adoption day."

Congratulations to this Californian forever family of four!

News

New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Raising Grounded Kids in Crazy Manhattan

When it comes to raising kids in Manhattan, Dr. Evan Goldstein lives by this lesson — less is more.

There are several lessons that we all learn as we continue to age on this wacky place called earth. But I learned one of life's most important nuggets my first year of medical school, and it has never left me. I remember this one night in particular—it was late, and I had been studying when I realized I forgot an important book in the stacks of the library. Thankfully, a janitor opened the locked door and allowed me to retrieve my belongings. I remember it took him a while to open the locked section that I needed to enter, as he had so many dangling keys on his keychain. He responded to me gazing at the lock by saying, "Son, I may only be a janitor without any education beyond high school, but I have seen medical student after student enter this school for the past 25 years. Can I give you some advice?" "Of course," I said. "Do you see all these keys on this keychain?" he said. "Every single one holds a new responsibility. Less keys, less responsibility. Less is more! Remember that my friend." And with that, he was gone.

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News

United Nations Calls on Cambodia to End Criminalization of Surrogates

Cambodia's 2016 law criminalizes surrogacy — and requires women who work as surrogate to raise the children they conceived for intended parents as their own.

Last Friday, the United Nations Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) reiterated its support to end the harassment and criminalization of surrogates in Cambodia, according to Voice of America.

The report issued by CEDAW recognized growing international criticism of the unregulated practice of surrogacy around the world, which often leads to the exploitation of women who work as surrogates. However, since surrogacy became illegal in Cambodia, over 60 women working as surrogates — the very people put in danger of exploitation — have been arrested and subjected to criminal proceedings. The women were only released according to VOA, under the condition of raising the surrogate children until they are 18.

"The Committee is particularly concerned that such an obligation creates an additional financial and emotional burden on women who are in precarious situations, which led them to act as surrogates in the first place," the report reads, "and that they face discrimination and stigma from their families and communities for having acted as surrogates."

CEDAW called on the Cambodian government to repeal the October 2016 law — particularly the requirement of raising the children they conceived for other intended parents as their own. This punishment is particularly onerous given that many of these women entered surrogacy arrangement against their will, said Chak Sopheap, Executive Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, speaking to VOA.

"Surrogate women in Cambodia are likely to be at the sharp end of various economic and political hardships that caused them to make the decision to become a surrogate," she told VOA in an email. "We have seen, over the past year, women surrogates raided, charged with human trafficking, and detained, with no transparency from the authorities as to their wellbeing or that of the children they have given birth to."

Read more about this story here.

Gay Dad Family Stories

One Single Gay Dad's Trailblazing Path to Parenthood Via Surrogacy

20 years ago, Gene became the first single gay man to work with Circle Surrogacy in order to become a dad — trailblazing a path for many others since.

This article is part of our family feature series with Circle Surrogacy, a surrogacy agency that has been helping LGBTQ+ singles and couples realize their dream of parenthood for the past 20 years.

"I think I was pretty naïve, I guess," chuckled Gene, one of the first single gay dads to work with Circle Surrogacy over 19 years ago. "I just had made a decision and went out and did it, and wasn't really thinking about how difficult it might be or what other people thought, being first at doing something."

So how did Gene hear about surrogacy as an option for single gay men? Well, it began with Gene flipping through a bar magazine. He recalls seeing an ad about a woman providing a service to connect gay men with lesbians in platonic co-parenting relationships. While he started down that path, working with the founder, Jennifer, he remembers thinking, "What if I meet someone? What if I want to move? It would create all these complications."

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Gay Dad Life

Karamo Brown Co-Writes Children's Book with Son, Jason

The 'Queer Eye' star and his son named the story on a family mantra: You are Perfectly Designed

When his sons, Jason and Chris, were young, "Queer Eye" Star Karamo Brown repeated the same saying to them: "You are perfectly designed."

That mantra is now a Children's Book, cowritten by Karamo and his 22-year-old son, Jason, who used to come how and "say things like, 'I don't want to be me, I wish I was someone else, I wish I had a different life." As a parent, that "broke my heart," Karamo told Yahoo! Lifestyle. "I would say to him, 'You are blessed and you are perfect just the way you are,' as a reminder that you have been given so much and you should be appreciative and know that you're enough — I know that the world will try to tear you down, but if you can say to yourself, 'I am perfectly designed,' maybe it can quiet out some of those negative messages."

The illustrations, by Anoosha Syed, also make a point of displaying families of a variety of races and sexual orientations throughout the book.

Read more about Karamo's fascinating path to becoming a gay dad here, and then check out the video below that delves deeper into the inspiration behind "You Are Perfectly Designed," available on Amazon.



Fatherhood, the gay way

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