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
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 www.theproblemgays.com or Instagram