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.

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Gay Adoption

How Much Does Adoption Cost Gay Dads?

Gays With Kids answers financial questions for gay dads and dads-to-be: How much does an adoption cost?

In the United States, there are two most common types of adoption: independent or private adoption, and agency adoption. Both come with different price tags.

Independent or private adoption is when the birth parents place the child directly with the adoptive parent or parents without an agency or intermediary. Parents who pursue independent adoption must still enlist the help of adoption lawyers and other professionals to help with the process. Three states do not allow independent adoption - Colorado, Connecticut and Delaware.

An agency adoption is more or less what it sounds like: you will select and work with a state-certified adoption agency throughout your entire adoption journey. It is legal in all 50 states.

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Gay Adoption

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."

Gay Adoption

6 Adoption Tips That Every Prospective Gay Dad Needs to Know

From gay dads who've adopted, here are 6 things you need to consider if you're thinking about adopting.

Gays With Kids surveyed a group of dads who created forever families through adoption to learn what advice they have to offer future adoptive dads. From our conversations, here are the top 6 tips that every prospective gay dad needs to know about adoption.

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Gay Adoption

Talking About Adoption With Your Child

Advice for families from adoptive parents to answer adoption-relation questions.

Growing up with two fathers can present children with obstacles to overcome in public and with their peers at school. Over the course of their childhood, these kids will learn the best ways to handle social interactions regarding their family composition. Some adoptive families have provided us with advice for parents and their children to answer adoption-related questions.

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Gay Adoption

How Hard Is It For Gay Men to Adopt a Baby?

It's one of the most common questions that gay men considering fatherhood ask: how hard is it to adopt a baby?

As a social worker and new gay dad, the two questions I'm most often by people interested in domestic infant adoption are these: Is it hard to adopt a baby? How long will it take?

These are dreaded questions for an adoption social worker. When I disclose to a prospective client that my husband and I adopted a baby, they are always curious about how hard the process was and how long it took us. My answers are usually, “yes! It was hard, but not for the reasons you think" and “It happened a lot sooner for us than many, but often the amount of time it takes to adopt a baby is up to the prospective adoptive parent(s)."

Can I adopt a baby internationally?

I can go on for days regarding logistical difficulties in adopting a baby, whether it's internationally, domestically, or from the foster care system. The short answer is adopting a baby internationally is rare, especially if the prospective adoptive parent(s) are requesting a baby with little to no special needs.

Can I adopt a baby from foster care?

Adopting a baby in foster care is even more rare; unless the prospective adoptive parents started as foster parents, and undertake the emotional risk of growing attached to the child, only to have that child reunited with their birth family. Typically, the primary goal for a young child in foster care is reunification with their biological family. By the time parental rights are terminated and the child is legally free for adoption (especially in New York State), the child is a few years older.

How do I adopt a baby domestically?

Adopting a baby domestically, whether through an agency or an adoption attorney and social worker, is also no easy task. Of course, the steps prospective adoptive parents must take to become a "waiting family" (a.k.a. home study approved and currently waiting to be matched with a prospective birth mother) are difficult. Obtaining all the necessary documents, having fingerprints taken, background checks, references, birth certificates, marriage licenses, home visits, required trainings...it's a lot! The waiting period can be excruciatingly difficult, both from a financial and emotional perspective. Weeks or even months may go by without a peep from a worker or from a prospective birth parent.

What's the hardest part of the adoption journey?

Personally, and professionally speaking, one of the hardest parts of adopting a baby is after you have been matched with a prospective birth mother. The days, weeks, and months leading up to the baby's birth can feel like years, decades and centuries. This is especially true if the adoption is a semi-open or a totally open adoption, which is a whole separate topic.

Legally, a birthmother cannot sign surrender documents until after the child is born and in many states, days after the birth. It's during this time, regardless of how long you have been matched, my clients share that this is the most difficult part of the entire process. It's during this time that I've had clients call or email me asking what they should be saying or how often they should reach out to the prospective birth mother without seeming annoying and desperate. There is so much anxiety and fear during this time. It's immeasurable and unequivocally the hardest part. You begin to question if you said the wrong things and ask "Why haven't I heard from her?", "Should I maybe ask her if she got my text?", "Can I ask her if she's taking care of herself and the baby?" Please do not ask her these questions. This part of the adoption journey is probably one of the most agonizing and scary for a prospective adoptive parent, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel!

It's also during this time that you begin to develop a relationship with a woman who has decided to place her child with you and there is no better gift than that. She may ask you to accompany her at doctor's appointments and she may talk to you about her life and life circumstances that lead to her decision to make an adoption plan. This information will become invaluable as your child grows and begins to ask questions about his or her birth family.

So, the answer to the question, "is it hard to adopt a baby?": Yes! You have no idea how hard...but it's absolutely worth it!

Visit Mark's website and Facebook page, also you can follow him on Instagram as well.

Have a question you want one of our experts to answer as part of our Ask An Expert advice column? Send an email with your question to dads@gayswithkids.com with “Ask An Expert" in the subject line.

Gay Adoption

I Just Completed the Home Study. Here's What I Learned

This gay dad-to-be recently completed the home study and he's sharing everything he learned from the experience.

I'm not sure why, but it doesn't seem like anyone ever talks about the home study. Perhaps I glossed over the provision in all of the paperwork that comes along with adoption that says that talking about home study is taboo. Or maybe there's an unspoken agreement – “the first rule of home study is: you do not talk about home study."

Well…I'm breaking that rule.

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Gay Adoption

Your Adopted Child Just Asked the “Mommy” Question. What Now?

Five tips from adoptive gay dads for starting the conversation about birth mothers and families.

Maybe you heard it at the dinner table. Or at the playground. Or reading to your son or daughter before bedtime. “Daddy," your child says tentatively, “do I have a mommy?"

Many gay dads are ready for that question, and many gay dads feel blindsided. To help prepare, here are five tips from adoptive gay dads on how they handled introducing their children to their biological mothers.

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