When you are just starting out thinking about adoption, you may struggle to keep track of all the options. Adopting is complicated, and same-sex couples have many unique issues to deal with. Here is a quick overview of the most common types of adoption and how they can impact same-sex couples.
Private agency placements
Across the country, there are numerous private adoption agencies that will help future parents through the process. These agencies try to simplify things as much as possible, but that comes with what can be a very steep cost. Agencies will typically need to learn all about the prospective parents, and they will look into issues like age, earnings, home life, and temperament. Unfortunately, some agencies still tend to discriminate against same-sex couples, either overtly or simply by treating straight couples as more desirable. On the other hand, many agencies are directly focused on same-sex couples and the Human Rights Campaign can help you identify a great agency.
Public agency adoption
A much-less-expensive option is using a state adoption agency. Each state has a foster care system that takes care of children that do not have parents to care for them. These agencies generally try to place children back with their families, but also seek to find adoptive parents when that fails. Another benefit is that many state agencies are legally prohibited from discriminating against gay and lesbian parents. Individual caseworkers may still have some prejudice, though, and that is hard to stop. The biggest drawback to the public agency route is the government is usually slower and more difficult to work with.
Some same-sex couples choose to pursue an independent adoption. These arrangements can be facilitated by doctors, attorneys, friends or some other intermediary. In some cases, however, the adoption is completely arranged by the family involved. A teenager giving birth after an accidental pregnancy may have some LGBTQ family friends that would like to adopt the child, for example.
Many children around the world have lost their parents and are suffering in poverty, and it has become quite popular for American families to adopt these children. There are international adoption agencies that focus on these types of arrangements. For gay and lesbian couples, challenges can arise when trying to adopt from socially-conservative countries that do not accept same-sex relationships. These foreign governments often have their own agendas and may not be looking out for the children the same way as most adoption agencies in the United States.
Open and closed adoptions
Some birth parents are seeking to send their child off to a better home without maintaining any contact. Other birth parents simply cannot care for a child but hope to maintain some contact. Adoptive parents have different goals as well. Some seek a closed adoption where their child will not know of any other parents. Other adoptive parents may be adopting the child of a loved one and may want to keep in contact. These are important decisions that have life-long implications and should be figured out up front.