Adoption Basics for Single Parents or Same Sex Couples

If you're single or in a same sex couple, it won't stop you from becoming an adoptive parent. Learn the in's and out's for your family here.

A family formed by adoption for same sex couples

When non-traditional families are making the decision to adopt, the first questions they often have are, “How will my identity impact my adoption?” The good news is, single parents and same-sex couples can and do adopt! Learn more about how your marital status and orientation impact the process.

Your Marital Status

All U.S. states permit adoption by single parents, and about 20 percent of adoptive parents are unmarried. However, some U.S. agencies and foreign countries don’t accept application from singles; when you choose an agency or attorney, pick one that explicitly encourages adoption by singles, and talk to other singles who have already adopted.

  • Some countries don’t permit singles to adopt.
  • Some U.S. agencies don’t accept applications from singles; others steer single parents toward specific kinds of children (special needs, older).
  • Few foreign countries and U.S. states permit unmarried couples to adopt together. If you and a partner (gay or straight) both want to adopt a child, one of you must adopt first, then the other completes a “second-parent” adoption, similar to adoption by a step-parent.

Your Gender Orientation

  • Many sending countries forbid adoption by gays and lesbians. Some follow a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Others actually require would-be parents to swear they’re not gay.
  • Whether you can complete an adoption as an openly gay parent will depend on the laws in your state, which change depending on political pressure. As of June 2015, adoption by same-sex couples was legal in 49 states and the District of Columbia (Mississippi remains the lone exception).
  • Some U.S. agencies will not accept applications from gays and lesbians.
  • Some birth mothers will not choose gay parents for their children; others (disenchanted with their own heterosexual relationship) distinctly prefer to place a child with a gay family.

The gay adoptive families among our readers recommend that you find an agency or attorney with whom you can be completely honest, and let them decide how much information to pass along to the sending country or birth family.

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