Gay Adoption

The Legal Steps for Gay Men Adopting a Child

A breakdown of the legal process for gay men hoping to adopt.

As of June 2015, adoption in the U.S.A. by single LGBT individuals and same-sex couples is legal in all 50 states and Washington, DC.

Adoption laws are primarily set at the state level, so it is important to research the laws in your particular state to determine the exact steps necessary for adoption. Here is a brief summary of the legal steps for agency, independent, and inter-country adoptions in more detail. You may also watch this video for the general outline.

1. Complete the following legal forms

If you are adopting through a public agency, private agency, or internationally, you will need to complete a number of forms in your state court:

Adoption Request Form

This form will ask you for all of the key points about the adoption:

  • The parties involved
  • The type of adoption (public or private agency, independent, or inter-country)
  • Whether the parental rights of the birth parents have been terminated (requires a form signed by the birth parents and adoptive parents or formal notification process)
  • Suitability of adoption - generally requires that the adoptive parents confirm they want to adopt, can support the child, have a home for the child, and are at least 10 years older than the child
  • Whether or not you have an attorney

Adoption Agreement

This agreement generally confirms that the adoptive parents intend to treat the child as their own and many of the signatures on this form may be required to be signed before a judge at the adoption hearing.

Adoption Expenses Form

A summary of all of your expenses incurred during the adoption process for court records (and potential tax purposes) – this includes costs such as agency fees, counseling fees, court filing fees, medical fees, etc.

2. File forms with court

The court will explain the adoption process based on your particular county – this will generally require a filing fee unless you qualify for an income-based fee waiver.

3. Interview and investigation

You will have an interview and investigation and there will be a formal report submitted to the court as to your suitability to adopt. The investigation is often conducted by a court investigator, licensed social worker, or licensed family therapist.

4. Request a court date

Once the court receives the investigator's report, you can request a court date for your formal adoption hearing.

5. Adoption hearing

The adoptive parents and child will be required to attend a court hearing for a judge to review all of the forms, report, and approve or reject the adoption based on his or her findings.

International Adoptions: These adoptions are governed by the rules of the Hague Convention (for countries that are members). You must use an approved Adoption Services Provider (ASP) in the desired country to help you find the child. The process also requires a home study for your suitability to adopt. Finally, this process also may involve an immigration attorney to file the proper forms to bring the child into the U.S., at which point you can then proceed with the normal U.S. adoption steps with your local court.


Adoption can be a complicated legal process and varies drastically based on the particulars of your situation. This article is intended to be a general guide and should not be construed as legal advice. Only a licensed attorney in your state can advise you on your legal rights and obligations.

If you have any questions or feel you may need an attorney, please contact me and I can help guide you to the appropriate local resources. For more coverage on adoption and additional topics surrounding gay dating, marriage, and divorce, please visit my blog at or Instagram

Show Comments ()
Surrogacy for Gay Men

Gay Dad Stuck in Kenya With Twins Born Via Surrogacy

Joseph Tito was overjoyed this past November when he became a dad with the help of a surrogate in Kenya. But thanks to a host of legal complications, he's been stuck there since.

"I've gone to the moon and back for these kids, I'll do anything for them."

On November 30th, Canadian citizen, Joseph Tito, became a dad to twin girls via surrogate in Kenya. It had been a long journey for the family including a relationship breakup as Joseph was contemplating fatherhood, and after he found a somewhat affordable surrogacy agency in India who had opened a clinic in Kenya, he went through four unsuccessful embryo transfers.

Keep reading... Show less
Surrogacy for Gay Men

Which States Allow Gay Men to Legally Use Traditional Surrogacy?

Traditional surrogacy provides gay men and couples a unique opportunity to have their own biological child, but the practice is not legal everywhere in the United States.

In traditional surrogacy, as opposed to gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is both the egg donor and the carrier for the intended parents, and therefore is genetically linked to the resulting child. Traditional surrogacy provides gay men and couples a unique opportunity to have their own biological child, but the practice is not legal everywhere in the United States. Check below to see where your state falls. Looking for a more general overview of surrogacy? Start here.
Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Adoption

5 Ways to Know Your Adoption Agency Is LGBTQ-Friendly

So you're ready to adopt. How do you know your adoption agency won't just discriminate against you as a gay man, but is actively welcoming to LGBTQ people?

You know what is the worst? Adoption agencies who discriminate! So how do you know your agency welcomes you? Check out our list of five immediate ways to know if your agency is LGBTQ affirming.

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

Gay Dads Featured in Enfamil Commercial

A new ad for Enfamil showcases two gay men talking about their daughter.

The best kind of inclusion is when you're not singled out but instead included right along with everyone else. This kind inclusion inspires others to pursue their own dreams and desires, just like any one else. As part of our popular culture, we know that brands are uniquely suited to inspire us in this way.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

Cooking with Kids: An Interview with David Burtka

David Burtka sits down with us to talk about his new book "Life is a Party."

When you're a young couple it's easy to order in or dine out on a daily basis, but when the kids come along, spending time in the kitchen to prepare nutritious and healthy meals for them can become a problem for some dads. We turned to gay dad and celebrity chef David Burtka who just published his debut recipe book Life is a Party, to get some advice, inspiration, and support as we take our baby steps in the kitchen.

Keep reading... Show less

Daughter of Married Gay Couple Who Used Surrogacy Abroad Isn't Citizen, Says U.S. State Department

A decades-old law can be used to discriminate against gay couples who use surrogacy abroad.

James Derek Mize and his husband Jonathan Gregg are both American citizens, but their daughter, born via a surrogate, may not be, at least according to the U.S. State Department.

The New York Times took an in-depth look at this case in a piece that ran in the paper yesterday. While James was born and raised in the U.S, his husband Jonathan was originally born in Britain. That may be enough, according to the State Department, to deny their daughter citizenship.

"We're both Americans; we're married," James told the New York Times. "We just found it really hard to believe that we could have a child that wouldn't be able to be in our country."

According to decades-old immigration law, a child born abroad must have a biological connection to a parent that is a U.S. citizen in order to be eligible to receive citizenship upon birth. Children born via surrogacy are determined to be "out of wedlock," according to the Times report," which then requires a more onerous process to qualify for citizenship, such as demonstrating that a biological parent is not only an American citizen, but has spent at least five years in the country.

The intent of the law, which dates back to the 1950s, was to prevent people from claiming, falsely, that they are the children of U.S. parents. But LGBTQ advocates argue this archaic policy is being used intentionally to discriminates against same-sex couples, who often have to rely on donors, IVF and surrogacy in order to have biologically children, and are thus held to a higher standard.

"This is where our life is. This is where our jobs are," James told the Times. "Our daughter can't be here, but she has no one else to care for her."

Read the whole story here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse