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How Different Types of Adoption May Affect Same-Sex Couples

Depending on the type of adoption in which same-sex parents are interested, there may be different considerations involved in disclosing sexual orientation. How open prospective adoptive parents are about their sexual orientation depends upon the couples' personal feelings on disclosure and whether direct questions are asked.

One important point for all prospective adoptive parents to be aware of is the difference between not sharing private information and deliberately lying at any time in the adoption process. Although it's completely legal to omit information regarding sexual orientation, it's illegal to lie about it when confronted directly. Failing to tell the truth during the adoption process is considered fraud, and it raises the chance that the adoption will be halted, or at least disrupted.

The following is a discussion of how different types of adoption may affect same-sex couples pursuing an adoption.

Public Agency Adoption

For prospective gay and lesbian parents, success in adoptions within the public child welfare system no longer depends on state adoption laws in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's Pavan v. Smith decision in 2017. While it's illegal for public agencies in the United States to reject adoptive parents on the basis of sexual orientation, that's not a guarantee that prejudices don't exist. Social workers who are uncomfortable with homosexuality may find the prospective adoptive parents unsuitable for "other reasons."

Since final decision adoption decisions are always made by judges at the county level, the availability of adoption as an option to openly gay and lesbian couples is influenced by the political and social community in which the family lives. The court's decision hinges on the "best interests" of the child, a concept interpreted differently by different judges, although the prospective parents' sexual orientation may not be considered.

Private Agency Placements

Private agencies establish their own criteria for the prospective adoptive parents. Age, religion, fertility status, marital status and sexual orientation all may be agency considerations. Some private agencies may disregard sexual orientation. In this case, such agencies will present the prospective parent as a single adopter who lives with another adult. Under such circumstances, the other adult will be registered as sharing responsibility of childcare with the single adopter. This omission of sexual orientation is based on the agency's judgment and relevance to the applicant's parenting qualifications.

Independent and Open Adoption

An independent adoption is an adoption facilitated by parties other than caseworkers associated with an agency. The facilitator may be a physician, an attorney, or other intermediary. In an independent adoption, the placement decision is completely up to the families involved. However, independent adoption does not necessarily mean an open adoption.

An open adoption involves some amount of initial and/or ongoing contact between birth and adoptive families. The adoptive and birth parents agree upon the birth parents' role, future communication, and the degree of openness prior to adoption. Being honest with the birth parents from the first contact allows gay and lesbian adoptive parents the opportunity to have a relationship without the possibility of a disrupting secret.

International Adoption

Adopting a child from a foreign country may involve finding an agency outside the United States willing to accept the adoptive parents' sexual orientation. Keep in mind that this agency would handle disclosure of all relevant information in its dealings with the foreign government. If sexual orientation is relevant, that would be disclosed.

Adoptive parents need to be aware that foreign governments and courts are making placement decisions based on their cultural standards and what they feel is in the best interest of the child.

Learn About Your Adoption Options: Contact an Attorney Today

Now that you understand how different types of adoption may affect same-sex couples seeking a child, you'll likely have many other questions before you start the process. This is a life-changing event. So, having a legal professional is often your best move. Find an experienced adoption law attorney sympathetic to the challenges of same-sex adoptive parents today.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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