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Navigating Different Adoption Methods as a Same-Sex Couple

Same-sex couples can come up against certain specific challenges when they go about trying to adopt. Having an adoption lawyer by your side can help.

Same-sex couples who wish to adopt tend to face certain unique challenges, especially when they are not married to each other. While the Supreme Court ruling that affirmed marriage rights to same-sex couples took away some of the hurdles involved, others remain. Going into the process with the guidance of an experienced adoption attorney can contribute by smoothing the path to successful adoption.

What kind of complications can you encounter?

Whether you’re open about your homosexuality during the adoption application process or not depends on how comfortable you are sharing in this area, and whether someone asks you a direct question about your relationship. Failure to disclose such information voluntarily is legal. Intentionally stating an untruth about it, however, could be considered fraud, and could cause disruption to the adoption process.

What follows is a short discussion of the ways in which different kinds of adoption may affect gay and lesbian couples.

Adopting from a public agency

Ever since the ruling in the matter of Pavan v. Smith came out of the Supreme Court in 2017, same-sex couples hoping to adopt no longer need to worry about specific state laws when putting in an application with the public child welfare system. Your real-world experience may depend, however, on the openness of the actual people you deal with. A social worker who happens to be prejudiced against gay adoptions may reject your application by finding you unsuitable for different reasons — ones that are more acceptable under the law. In addition, county judges are able to rule on adoptions based on the best interests of the child; this is a concept that is open to interpretation. A knowledgeable lawyer can prove invaluable.

Adopting from a private agency

Unlike public agencies, private agencies are within the law to exercise their preferences based on sexual orientation, marital status, and other qualities when approving couples for adoption. Some agencies ignore these qualities, but others may pay attention to them. When you have an adoption lawyer to guide you in your search, you’re likely to receive advice on the right private agencies to go to.

Trying an independent or open adoption

When an adoption is facilitated by professionals other than caseworkers attached to an agency, the adoption is termed independent. The facilitators may be adoption lawyers, doctors, or other intermediaries. In these cases, the decision to place a child with a family is up to the two families involved.

In an open adoption, there is a certain amount of contact between the birth parent and the adoptive family. They may discuss the degree to which the birth parent will be involved in the child’s life post adoption. Honesty and openness from the get-go can help make for a smooth relationship in the future.

Adopting from a different country

When same-sex couples adopt internationally, they need to find an agency that helps process adoptions from countries that are sympathetic to their sexual orientation. The laws in conservative countries may be opposed to the idea of adoptions by same-sex couples. In international adoptions by gay and lesbian couples, especially, having a knowledgeable adoption expert to show you the way can be immensely helpful.

If you’re a same-sex couple, starting a family by adopting puts you in unfamiliar territory in many ways. One of the best paths to success is to go in with a seasoned adoption lawyer providing you the handholding that you need.