Gay Adoption

Thinking About Adoption, But Don't Know Where to Start?

This article gives an overview of adoption in the United States.


Thinking about adoption? Gay men (single and couples) 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.

So how does adoption happen? For gay couples and single gay men, domestic adoption is the best route to explore. Domestic adoption can mean an independent, private agency, or a foster care adoption. Understanding the difference between these paths is your first task as a future adoptive parent.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Stella Gilgur-Cook is the director of the Modern Family Center at Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children in New York City.

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Gay Adoption

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Preparing for Your Home Study

Molly Rampe Thomas of Choice Network lists the 5 things gay men should keep in mind when preparing for your home study

The homestudy is the first step in the adoption process. In every state the homestudy is done a little differently, but all of them have the some combo of paperwork, trainings, and interviews. The homestudy can take anywhere from 2 months to 6 months to complete. Without it, you cannot adopt.

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With most agencies you start with an initial meeting. After that you are able to begin the homestudy process. The homestudy usually consists of a set of documents, trainings, and interviews. The documents needed can include things like background checks, reference letters, medical statements, financial docs, home inspections, etc.

Once the homestudy is complete, you build your profile (we do ours online, because I think printed anything is old school). After the profile goes live, you begin the "wait" which can take anywhere from a day to 2+ years. After a pregnant person chooses you, the wait is over and you are considered matched.

After you are matched, you create a plan for placement that includes a legal plan, hospital / birthing plan, and openness plan to prepare for the baby being born. Once the baby is born, there is normally a waiting time (anywhere from 24 hours to 3 days or more) until official placement can happen (though the baby almost always goes home with you from the hospital).

After official placement happens, you enter the time where post placement supervision occurs. This includes visits from your agency to make sure the placement is going well (which it will be). Once the post placement period is over, finalization happens and the adoption is complete. I am realizing this could be a full blog post! Homestudy, wait, match, placement, post placement and finalization – are the normal steps to getting your babe.

Gay Adoption

8 Phrases That Show the Love of Open Adoption

In 8 phrases, Molly Rampe Thomas, founder and CEO of Choice Network, explains why her agency believes in the power of open adoptions


#1: "Never ever"

Many times, people come to us believing deep down that they could never ever imagine having an open adoption. The truth is, many of our families had to experience a ton of pain before taking the path to adoption. Their heart is wrecked and they can't imagine sharing the shambles with another. Or the path just simply hasn't been straight and the bumps have bruised them. The goal is to get to a place of wholeness and healing so they can say "I could never, ever imagine a closed adoption. When I see with truth, I see that open adoption benefits my child, their first family and me".

#2: "Take courage"

It takes courage to look past fear and be ready to love. Open adoption is love. It takes courage. It is the ability to say "I have and want to do this, no matter what." What we know for sure is that what we give in this journey, we will receive. Give courage. Receive courage. This adoption journey takes courage.

#3: "Fear not"

In open adoption, there is nothing to fear. In fact, open adoption is our greatest gift to our children. Our biggest fear should be first families not having peace in their heart. We should never fear open adoption. We should fear secrets, shame and any past history untold that can harm our child. What they don't know, the world will show them. So tell them all they need know and tell it with love and total, complete honesty.

#4: "No victim"

Some of our families' biggest fears is that their children will be a victim of their adoption. They have incredible fears for themselves and their child's first families. "Poor me, poor them or poor her" is a story we hear often. We celebrate the journey though. Open adoption is about reviving and restoring the knowledge that greater things will come. Knowing that we are not a victim. We are whole, healed, free and open. We see the beauty in the journey and we appreciate it.

#5 "Choose love"

It is true that love can conquer so much in adoption. We need to give it freely and often. We have to love so hard that we balance the pain involved in a bond of a mother and child breaking – a bond broken for us. Love. Love. Love. In all things, choose love.

#6 "Be willing"

Sometimes families just first need to be willing. Willing to be open. Willing to hear what open adoption can bring. Willing to hear the research that demonstrates the benefits about open adoption. Willing to really see our child's first family and want only good for them. Willing to say "Without peace in their heart, I cannot move forward". Willing to see adoption is hard, but done well it can be a beautiful thing. Simply be willing to say "Here I am. Teach me, show me. I am ready to be vulnerable and ready to do what it takes to adopt and do it well."

#7 "THIS good"

Peace in everyone's heart makes you look back and say "I never knew adoption could be THIS good." Adoption is richness. Adoption is healing. Adoption is truth. Adoption is grieving. Adoption is good.

#8 "Hope is alive"

And in the end, hope is alive in open adoption. I love hope. I love when first families and adoptive families give themselves permission to hope. I love bringing hope in this work. Hope is real. Brokenness is restored. In adoption, hope is alive.

Molly Rampe Thomas is founder and CEO of Choice Network, an adoption agency that trusts people and their choices. The agency is on a mission to change the definition of family by welcoming all pregnant people, all children, all families, and all choices. Choice Network truly believes in the power of love and never backs down to fight for good. For more information, visit choicenetworkadoptions.com

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

How This Dad 'Redesigned' the Holidays After Coming Out of the Closet

Rick Clemons describes how he made the holidays work for him and his family again after coming out of the closet

What I'm about to describe to you, is something I am deeply ashamed of in hindsight. I was a jerk, still in a state of shock and confusion, and "in love" with a handsome Brit I'd only spent less than 24 hours with.

I was standing in the Ontario, California airport watching my wife walk with my two daughters to a different gate than mine. They were headed to my parents in the Napa Valley for Thanksgiving. I was headed to spend my Thanksgiving with the Brit in San Francisco. It was less than one month after I had come out of the closet and I was so caught up in my own freedom and new life that I didn't realize until everything went kaput with the Brit on New Year's Eve, that if I was ever going to manage the holidays with dignity and respect for me, my kids, and their Mom, I was going to have to kick myself in the pants and stop acting like a kid in the candy store when it came to men. Ok, nothing wrong with acting that way since I never got to date guys in high school and college because I was raised to believe – gay no way, was the way. But that's another article all together.

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What to Buy

Shop with a Purpose with Our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Want to find amazing gift ideas while *also* supporting LGBTQ-owned and allied businesses? Look no further than our 2019 holiday gift guide!

'Tis the season to show loved ones you care. And what better way to show you care, by also supported our LGBTQ+ community and allies whilst doing it! Shop (LGBTQ+) smart with these great suggestions below.

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Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Newly Out Gay Dad Feels 'Demoted' After Divorce

Cameron Call showed up to his first family Thanksgiving since coming out and getting a divorce — and struggles to find himself "stuck with the singles."

Cameron Call, who came out in summer 2019, has generously agreed to chronicle his coming out journey for Gays With Kids over the next several months — the highs, lows and everything in between. Read his first article here.

Denial is an interesting thing. It's easy to think you're potentially above it, avoiding it, assume it doesn't apply to you because you'd NEVER do that, or maybe you're just simply avoiding it altogether. After finally coming out, I liked to think that I was done denying anything from now on. But unfortunately that's not the case.

And this fact became very clear to me over Thanksgiving.

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Resources

New Report Details the 'Price of Parenthood' for LGBTQ People

A new report by the Family Equality Council takes a deep dive into the current state of cost for becoming a parent as an LGBTQ person

Parenthood is expensive. But parenthood while queer is still prohibitively costly for so many segments of the LGBTQ community interested in pursuing a family, according to a new repot by the Family Equality Council, titled, "Building LGBTQ+ Families: The Price of Parenthood."

Among the more interesting findings was this one: the cost of family planning is relatively similar for all LGBTQ people, regardless of income level. This shows "that the desire to have children exists regardless of financial security," the report's authors conclude.

Research for the report was conducted through an online survey of 500 LGBTQ adults over the age of 18, and was conducted between July 11-18, 2018. For comparison, the survey also included 1,004 adults who did not identify as LGBTQ.

Other interesting findings of the report include:

  • 29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
  • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
  • Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, and error associated with question-wording and response options.29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
  • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
  • Regardless of annual household income, 45-53% of LGBTQ+ millennials are planning to become parents for the first time or add another child to their family. Those making less than $25,000 a year are considering becoming parents at very similar rates as those making over $100,000.
  • Data from the Family Building Survey reveals that LGBTQ+ households making over $100,000 annually are considering the full range of paths to parenthood, from surrogacy and private adoption to foster care and IVF. The most popular options under consideration in this income bracket are private adoption (74% are considering), foster care (42%), and IVF or reciprocal IVF (21%). At the other end of the economic spectrum, for LGBTQ+ individuals in households making less than $25,000 annually, the most commonly considered paths to parenthood are intercourse (35% are considering), foster care (30%), and adoption (23%).

Fatherhood, the gay way

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