What They Aren't Telling You About Gay Adoption

The Facts About Gay and Lesbian Adoption

The push against adoption by gay, lesbian and same-sex couples may be more about gay discrimination than child welfare, but progress is being made. Before you buy into the myths and rhetoric that gay adoption poses an unsafe environment for children, or that a gay household is a "recruitment center" for young adults, here are some facts. 

  • Thousands of children already live in gay couple households. The 2010 U. S. Census reported that approximately 115,000 out of 593,324 same-sex households included children. Same-sex parents raise approximately 4 percent of all adopted children in the U.S. 
  • According to the American Psychological Association Policy Statement on Sexual Orientation, Parents and Children, "There is no reliable evidence that homosexual orientation per se impairs psychological functioning ... beliefs that lesbian and gay adults are not fit parents have no empirical foundation."
  • The American Psychological Association also states, "Research suggests that sexual identities (including gender identity, gender-role behavior and sexual orientation) develop in much the same ways among children of lesbian mothers as they do among children of heterosexual parents."
  • There is no conclusive evidence that homosexuality is linked to one's environment. In other words, growing up in a gay couple household will not "make" a child gay. 
  • According to the Sydney Morning Herald, only 50,000 of the 120,000 children available for adoption in Australia have found homes in recent years, yet groups against gay adoption seek to reduce the number of available homes based on false perception and unfounded evidence about gay parents.

    The Result of Misconceptions 

    Adoption extends beyond the traditional concept of a couple providing a home for an unrelated child. It also includes children already living in same-sex households, typically the biological children of one or both partners. So what happens if children already in gay and lesbian households can't be legally adopted or the parents are refused legal custody of children that are not biologically their own?

     

    • Children in gay couple households have no legal status should something happen to a non-biological parent, including death or serious illness.
    • Neither the parent nor the child has visitation rights if the parents separate.
    • The child cannot claim inheritances or other household assets in the case of death.
    • If one parent dies, the second parent has no legal right to take custody or care for the child.
    • A parent without legal rights to a child cannot legally register him or her for school.
    • Parents cannot put children on some health insurance plans.
    • Parents cannot make medical decisions for the child.
    • The child has no claim to Social Security or other insurance benefits of the parent.
    • Gay couple parents without adoption rights can be denied the generous tax deductions granted to heterosexual parents.

    Going Forward 

    Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation allowing same-sex couples to petition for "second parent" adoption: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Vermont. A second parent adoption is the legal process by which a gay individual can adopt his or her partner's biological or adopted child.

    It should be noted that in the vast majority of cases, this type of law may not be enough. The other biological parent who is not in the same-sex relationship must consent to having his own parental rights terminated to pave the way for legal adoption by another party. This same rule applies to stepparent adoptions by heterosexual couples. 

    Same-partners can legally seek joint adoption of children in all states but Mississippi, but they're often required to be in some form of legally-recognized union.