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

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

Gay Adoption

So You've Matched With a Birth Parent. What's Next?

A pregnant person has chosen you to parent their child. How can you prepare for the first meeting? Here are five easy ways.

A pregnant person has chosen me … we are meeting her! How can we prepare? Here are five easy ways.

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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.

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Fun

Gay Dad Penguins Strike Again! This Time in Berlin Zoo

The latest male penguins to care for an egg together are Skipper and Ping in the Berlin Zoo.

First, there was Roy and Silo — the two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that served as inspiration for the famous children's book And Tango Makes Three. Then Magin Sphen got together in Sydney, where aquarium keepers gave the cocks (Calm down, that's what a male penguin is called!) a foster egg to care for.

And now, please welcome Skipper and Ping in Berlin to the latest list of gay dad penguins! As soon as the two emperor penguins arrived at the city's zoo, they set about trying to start a family, said Berlin Zoo spokesman Maximilian Jaege to DPA news.

"They kept trying to hatch fish and stones," Jaeger said.

So the zookeepers loaned the penguins an egg from a female penguin, who is apparently uninterested in hatching eggs on her own, according to the BBC.

Unsurprisingly, the gay penguins are killing it as parents. "The two male penguins are acting like exemplary parents, taking turns to warm the egg," Jaeger said,

Read the whole article on DPA here.

Change the World

Hungarian Company Raising Money for LGBTQ+ Organization with a LEGO® Heart

Startup WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is helping combat misinformation and prejudice in Central and Eastern Europe

Guest Post from WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD

WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is an innovative startup venture that sells LEGO® parts and unique creations. The core values of our company include social equality regardless of gender identity or origin. As LEGO® is a variety of colors and shapes, so are the people.

We all know that LEGO® is a brand that nearly everyone knows and likes between the age of 3 and 99 so this gives a great opportunity to connect unique LEGO® creations and Pride. We started a fundraising campaign for a Hungarian LGBTQ+ organization who's aim is to bring people closer to the LGBTQ+ community, they help to combat misinformation and prejudice regarding LGBTQ+ issues in Central- Eastern Europe since 2000.

You might know that gender equality and the circumstances of LGBTQ+ people is not the easiest in the former communist Eastern European countries like Hungary so this program is in a real need for help. For example a couple of month ago a member of the government said that homosexual people are not equal part of our society.

The essence of the campaign is when one buys a Pride Heart, a custom creation made of brand new and genuine LEGO® bricks the organization gets $10.00 donation so they can continue their important work. This Pride Heart is a nice necklace, a decoration in your home, and a cool gift to the one you love.

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Entertainment

Single Gay Dad Featured on Season Three of GLOW

Actor Kevin Cahoon joins the Gorgeous Ladies of Wresting in Vegas as a single gay dad — and drag queen — on Season Three of the hit Netflix show

For a couple of years now, Hollywood has been obsessed with gay dad characters (and who can blame them?) But the latest show to get hip to a story line featuring gay man raising kids is Netflix's GLOW, which explores a female wresting troop in the late 1980s.

But GLOW is helping represent a gay character that rarely gets time in the limelight:the single gay dad. In Season three of the hit comedy — which stars Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron — actor Kevin Cahoon joins the case as Bobby Barnes, a single gay father who plays a female impersonator. (80s divas only, of course — Joan Collins and Babs among them)


"I've never done female impersonation," the openly gay actor told OutSmart Magazine, "so I tried to learn really quick. You will know them all; I was very familiar with all of them. There were plenty of talk shows and performances on YouTube to study. I learned that their breathing was very informative."

A single gay dad AND drag queen on television? It's about damn time if you ask us.

Read the full interview with Cahoon here.

Politics

Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.

DRAKE BUSATH/ UTCOURTS.GOV

Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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