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.


Independent Infant Adoption

For this type of adoption, families work fairly independently to find their future child. You will need an attorney to draw up the contracts and assist you with finalizing your adoption in family court, a social worker to complete your home study and post placement reports, and possibly additional websites, adoption facilitators, and other resources that will help you connect with an expectant parent. Most placements occur within the first weeks of a child's life, or can be a direct placement from the hospital after birth.

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Private Agency Adoption

Working with an agency allows adoptive parents to have built-in support services for every step in the process. Agencies will typically prepare the adoptive parent(s), complete their homes study, provide counseling to the birth parents, complete all post placement requirements, and assist with documents for court finalization. Families will still need an attorney for the actual court date. Most placements occur within the first weeks of life, and can be a direct placement from the hospital; there is the possibility of agencies placing older babies, toddlers, or school-aged children.

Agencies also often have programs specifically for children born with special needs. These can range from blindness, cardiac issues, limb differences, or neurological disorders. Depending on the agency, children included in these programs may not have a diagnosed special need but rather present with risk factors such as prenatal alcohol or drug exposure, significant mental illness within the birth family, or a genetic disorder where the outcome for the child is unknown. Agencies often have specialized social workers to educate and guide families through an adoption for a child with special needs.

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Adopting Through a Private Agency? Here's What You Can Expect

Adoption from Foster Care

Families who build their family through foster care have two options: become a foster parent to a child who may become legally freed for adoption at some point down the road, or only accept placement of a child who is already legally freed for adoption. When fostering to adopt, families are guided by their agency to an appropriate placement (many will try their best to anticipate the likelihood of the child returning to their birth family) with the understanding that there are no guarantees or promises to what the child's future holds.

If a child does become legally available after being fostered in your home, the entire finalization process can take anywhere from two to five years, depending on the circumstances of the case. These children can be anywhere from birth to 8 years old, and sometimes older. Children in the foster care system may have physical or emotional special needs, or may need therapeutic parenting to address issues of loss, grief, and trauma.

For families who are wary of the risks of fostering to adopt, there are children who are already legally freed for adoption. Typically 8 and up, these children are in foster homes that are not pre-adoptive placements, and a judge has already ruled that reuniting with biological family is not possible. These children are often on adoption photo-listings, on waiting child listings, and featured in other ways, all with the hope of trying to find them a family. Adoptive parents will often meet with the child and have a slow transition to their own home, after which adoption finalization can occur. These children are older, have typically had multiple placements, may be clinically healthy, or also may have physical or emotional special needs.

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***

Of course, knowing your options only gets you part-way there. Understanding what adoption looks like today is vital to establishing realistic expectations and embracing what's to come. Today's domestic adoptions ask parents to be flexible, open, and accepting of the right circumstance for an adoption, not the "right child."

In the past, adoption has been cloaked with secrecy and pain, in many cases "matching" children with families to provide the illusion of a biological connection.

Adoption practice today asks adoptive families to have some form of a relationship with biological parents, tell children they are adopted and answer their questions in developmentally appropriate ways, and prepare themselves for the challenges of being an inter-racial or inter-cultural family. Many of these points understandably scare or overwhelm prospective adoptive parents, but there has never been a time when more resources, supports, workshops, and education have been available to adoptive families.

If becoming a parent is a top priority for you, you can and will navigate these new rules of adoption that in the long term greatly benefit both sets of parents, but more importantly, nurture a child's sense of identity, belonging, and being loved by as many people as are willing to open their hearts to them.

Article updated from an original post by Stella Gilgur-Cook.

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Become a Gay Dad

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."

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