Believe it or not, LGBT parents are just as hopeful to grow a family as heterosexual couples. History, however, has not been entirely kind on this front. While brief, the background of same sex adoption is riddled with conflict and restrictions. It wasn’t until recently that members of the LGBT community were allowed to marry, much less adopt.
Because of the advancement of the gay rights movement in the past 40 years, though, same sex adoption has seen a very positive spike in occurrence. Changing laws and a growing acceptance of the general public has helped with this. Based on recent surveys, the general public claimed a 53% support rating, while 39% opposed and a mere 8% stated uncertainty. To date, there are only two states remaining in the United States outlawing same sex adoption: Mississippi and Utah. The other 48 states welcome it, albeit with varying laws and guidelines on what they allow.
History and Statistics
Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2003, marking the first step towards equality for the LGBT community. In 2015, the Supreme Court challenged the laws against gay marriage and made it legal across the entire United States. This paved the way for gay adoption to also be accepted, because there was now no legal reason they couldn’t adopt a child together.
That is, depending on the state. Adoption petitions made by both gay and lesbian individuals and couples were met with a lot of controversy. They were decided upon case-by-case. When studies surfaced that LGBT adoptions had no adverse effects on the children who were adopted, policies and laws started to change for the better. Since then, social science research has disproved the misconception that adopted children suffer harm or abuse based on sexual orientation alone.
An estimated 65,000 adopted children live with same sex parents. In other words, gay and lesbian men and women account for 4% of all adopted children in the United States. Statistics show that California maintains the highest ratio of adopted children with same sex parents. Four additional states who hold high percentages of same sex parents are: Washington D.C. at 28.6%, Massachusetts at 16.4%, New Mexico at 9% and Alaska at 8.6%.
One of the biggest misconceptions with same sex adoptions is that it can “make a child gay.” There is no evidence to support this theory. In fact, it shows just the opposite. Gender-identity and sexual orientation develop the same way, whether the child is raised in a same-sex home or heterosexual home.
Ironically, the majority of LGBT community members grow up in heterosexual/straight homes. Gay and lesbian men and women are just as suited and equipped to raise children as straight couples and individuals are. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with being a good parent or bad parent. Rather, good parenting encompasses the couples’ or individual’s ability to love and nurture a child. What’s more, children are far more influenced by their parents’ relationship and mannerisms with each other than their sexual orientation.
Contrary to popular belief, children raised in same-sex homes do not suffer from lacking gender roles, and grow up with a broader sense of tolerance, open mindedness and acceptance.
Same Sex Adoption in New York
In the state of New York, same sex couples are allowed to petition jointly and as a second parent adoption, and singles are permitted to adopt as well. It does not place limits on who can be adopted, but requires the consent of children 14 years and older. So, in general, any adult may adopt. If the adopting parent is married, however, both spouses must adopt the child. Exceptions to this regulation are if the couple has been legally separated by a court degree or for at least three years. There are no restrictions on gender or sexual orientation.
Under certain circumstances, minors have the ability to adopt, so long as they are emancipated or married. In other words, they must have the legal rights of an adult to permit the adoption to go through. A single minor also has the option of adopting another single minor. This is most often seen among siblings.
The biggest thing with New York adoptions is their residency requirement. Before the adoption can be finalized, a prospective parent must reside in the state for three months. This may be waived by a judge in special cases, but otherwise is required by state law.
The rules and laws pertaining to same sex adoptions vary in each state, so please be sure to consult with your adoption agency or lawyer throughout the process. They are skilled and licensed to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information, and will be able to guide you through any potential pitfalls.
Remember — the true purpose of adoption is to provide a child with a caring and supportive home. To let them know that they are valued and loved. At the end of the day, that’s all that really matters: the love a parent has for a child. Not their sexual orientation.
New York prospective parents — be sure to check out all the available resources your state has to offer! Carefully research what agencies best fit your needs, and find professionals who will fully support you. Your dream of becoming a parent can come true!
Adoptions, Lifelong. “LGBT Adoption Laws New York.” LifeLong Adoptions, 2018, www.lifelongadoptions.com/lgbt-adoption-resources/lgbt-adoption-laws/new-york.
“Gay Adoption Facts.” Gay Adoption Facts | Families Are Created with Love., Gayadoption.org, 2018, gayadoption.org/facts-supporting-gay-adoption/.
“Hoping to Grow Your Family by Adopting.” New Jersey Adoption Law Firm, Greenberg & Greenberg, 2018, www.adoptlawfirm.com/adoption-overview/same-sex-couple-adoption-cross-adoption-/.
“Important Facts About Same-Sex Adoption.” Marriage Advice – Best Marriage Advice & Tips for Couples, Marriage.com, 30 Aug. 2017, www.marriage.com/advice/adoption/important-facts-about-same-sex-adoption/.
“New York Adoption Laws.” Findlaw, statelaws.findlaw.com/new-york-law/new-york-adoption-laws.html.
“What to Know About the History of Same-Sex Adoption.” The Best Source for Adoption Information, Considering Adoption, consideringadoption.com/adopting/can-same-sex-couples-adopt/history-of-same-sex-adoption.