Adoption has become a positive and widely accepted topic today. With the corresponding acceptance of same-sex marriage in many states, the idea of same-sex adoption has also become well-received, especially by the LGBT community. Same-sex adoption has now become prevalent since this is one of the few means by which same-sex couples will have the lawful rights and responsibilities as biological parents over a child.
However, state laws on adoption for same-sex couples are not as clear-cut as those for heterosexual couples. Existing laws in many states are even more silent on adoption issues for single gays or lesbians since there is a requirement for joint petition of husband and wife.
Same-sex couples are included in state statutes that are neutral when referring to gender in its language such as the terms “married couples” or “spouses.” This has been the practice in more than 19 states, as well as in the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. Utah and Mississippi are the two last states that forbade same-sex adoption. However, the following transpired:
- Utah – Same sex marriage was legalized in 2013. Given Utah’s adoption law stating that “a child may be adopted by adults who are legally married to each other in accordance with the laws of this state, including adoption by a stepparent,” same-sex adoption is thereby also legalized;
- Mississippi – Upon the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state via the decision of the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex adoption ban was thereafter challenged. Finally in March 2016, The US Supreme Court found the ban unconstitutional, effectively lifting the 16-year old same-sex adoption ban in Mississippi.
With the new laws implemented in the two states, same-sex adoption is now allowed in all 50 states.
Same-sex adoption statistics
It is estimated that about 2 million individuals belonging to the LGBT community are keen on adopting. The most current survey conducted by UCLA showed that as of 2009, 19% of same-sex couples in the U.S. are raising children. This percentage increased by 8% compared to the last survey held in 2000.
The survey also showed that of America’s total adopted population, 4% are living with same-sex couples. This translates to 65,000 children adopted by an LGBT. Statistics also show that California has the most number of same-sex adoptions at 16,000 adopted children.
Studies on same-sex adoption
Adoptions sought after by gays and lesbians are considered controversial by a number of sectors, if not unacceptable. Others believe that same-sex adoption should be decided on a case-to-case basis. However, with the modern times, this has become tolerable and many are quite happy about this policy.
Despite criticisms about allowing same-sex adoption, many studies showed that there are no adverse effects on the adopted child to grow up under the care of same-sex couples. For instance, a 2010 study in Applied Developmental Science spearheaded by University of Virginia PhD professor Charlotte Patterson showed that adopted children of LGBT couples bear no difference from adopted children of heterosexual couples. Other recent studies showed the same results, mainly, that there is no negative impact on children raised by same-sex couples, whether adopted or born through surrogacy.
Importance of knowing the state laws on adoption
The rules relating to same-sex adoptions differ in each state. It is therefore important that you are aware of the local laws in the state where you want to commence adoption procedures. Some states may have certain prohibitions that should be taken into consideration. The services of an attorney will come in handy in ensuring a trouble free and faster facilitation of the adoption process. Various online same-sex and LGBT adoption websites also provide assistance.