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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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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News

Indiana Court Says Couples Using Sperm Donors​ Can Both Be Listed on Birth Certificate — But Ruling Excludes Male Couples

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, a major victory for LGBTQ parents — but the Attorney General may appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that said that both parents in a same-sex relationship are entitled to be listed on the birth certificate — previously, the state of Indiana had required the non-biological parent within a same-sex relationship using assisted reproductive technologies to adopt their child after the birth in order to get her or his name listed on the birth certificate, a lengthy and expensive process not required of straight couples in the same situation.

It's a double standard LGBTQ parents have long been subjected to in many states across the country. So this represent a major win. As reported by CNN, this ruling "takes a lot of weight off" the shoulders of LGBTQ parents, said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a lawyer representing one of the couples in the case. "They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart."

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case, according to CNN, for more than two and a half years, which is one of the longest in the court's history.

However, because all the plaintiffs in the case involved female same-sex couples using sperm donors, the ruling left open the similar question of parenting rights with respect to male couples. Indiana's Attorney General, moreover, may also appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

We'll be following the case closely and be sure to keep you up to date. For more on this recent decision, read CNN's article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

As a Gay Dad, What's the Impact of Letting My Son Perform Drag?

Michael Duncan was excited when his 10-year-old son asked if he could perform in drag for charity — but he also felt fear and anxiety.

As LGBT parents, we have all lived through some sort of trauma in our lives. For many it is the rejection of our family, being bullied, or abuse. We learn to be vigilant of our surroundings and often are very cautious of who we trust. As adults, we start to become watchful of how much we share and we look for "red flags" around every corner.

So, what effect does this have on our children? Does it unintentionally cause us to be more jaded with our interactions involving others? For some the answer may be a resounding "no." But as we look deeper into the situation, we often find that through survival our interactions with others have changed and we may not even realize exactly how much we are projecting on those around us.

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A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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