Paths to Gay Fatherhood: The Adoptive Dad
I asked Dr. Gary Gates, the Williams Institute researcher of gay and lesbian families, about 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."
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.
Over 2 years ago, we spoke with experienced filmmaker Carlton Smith about his documentary featuring gay dad families created through foster-adopt. It was a heartfelt project that shone a light on the number of children in foster care (roughly 400,000 as referenced at the time) who desperately needed a home. And the large population of same-sex couples, many newly married, who were interested in starting families of their own.
"Let's skip," my daughter said on our way to school the other week. She took my hand and started skipping along, pulling me forward to urge me to do the same.
Wouldn't it look, well, gay, for me to skip down the street? In public? I wasn't willingly going to make myself look like a sissy.
As part of our ongoing #GWKThenAndNow series, we talk to dads who have gone the distance and been together a great many years. Terry and Michael have been together 15 years, have two children, and live in Orlando, Florida. We find out how it began, and what they look for in a partner in life, love and fatherhood.
Johnathon and Corey, both 29, met in 2011 working for the same employer. And since their first date, they've been inseparable. Johnathon is a full-time student pursuing a degree in Human Services, and once he completes his degree, he will return to his Native American tribe to help fellow Native American families in need. Corey is a stay-at-home dad. Together they adopted 6-year-old twins, Greyson and Porter, from foster care on June 1, 2017. We caught up with the first-time dads to see how fatherhood was treating them.
The Long Island Adoptive Families support group was created by parents going through the adoption process or who had already adopted. It was a great way to help members navigate the path of adoption whether it be private domestic, international agency, domestic agency or foster care. We spoke with Chemene, one of the founders, and found out how this group is supporting local gay men interested in becoming fathers.