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Adoptions by gays & lesbians


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This essay provides general information only. Do not rely on it to determine your legal rights or status. The legal situation in many political jurisdictions is in a state of rapid change. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a qualified attorney.

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Adoption by single lesbian, gays, bisexuals and by same-sex couples is an important factor for the homosexual community:

bullet A growing number of male gays want to form a family with children; adoption is often their only route.

bullet Some bisexual, gay and lesbian couples bring children from their previous families into their same-sex committed relationship. Allowing the non-birth parent the right of adoption would increase the cohesiveness of the family.

bullet A growing number of lesbian couples are planning to have children together via artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization. Adoption by the non-birth mother would place their relationship on a firmer foundation and give their children greater security.

Adoptions by gays and lesbians, either single individuals or committed couples is a controversial topic. Some arguments are:

bulletThose in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children point out that :

bullet There are numerous children stuck in foster homes or institutions where they are currently awaiting adoption. In some areas of the country, foster homes are extremely unhealthy places for children. Many children are uprooted frequently and switched from location to location so that they are never able to put down roots and experience a long-term stable family environment. This is a very weak foundation upon which to build a successful adulthood. Adoptions provide the stability that children need.

bullet A family led by two same-sex parents can be an excellent environment in which to raise a homosexual child. The child would not be subject to homophobia within the family, would have a greater chance of being accepted, and would have parents sensitive to their special needs.

bulletOpponents often believe that only a marriage consisting of one man and one woman provides the type of environment that children need to develop properly. Their main reasons appear to be that:

bullet They feel that for proper social and sexual development, children need to be in a family headed by one man and one woman. They often point to studies conducted by social and religious conservatives which support this conclusion.

bullet They feel that children raised in a family with two mothers or two fathers will be discriminated against in school, play and elsewhere because of the high level of homophobia in society. They will suffer the same type of rejections as minority-race children and mixed-race children face due to the bigotry and rejection of others.

bullet They disagree with the findings of almost all professional associations concerning homosexuality. Rather, they regard homosexual orientation as a disordered, unnatural, abnormal, chosen, and/or sinful state; they feel that Gay or lesbian parenting is thus fundamentally flawed.

There are also two arguments that follow naturally from their disapproval of homosexual orientation and behavior:
bullet They believe that children who grow up in a homosexual environment will choose to become homosexuals later in life. This appears to be a false belief.

bullet A child raised in a home led by heterosexual parents would have a greater chance of choosing to be heterosexual later in life. Again, this does not happen in practice.

Gay and lesbian adoption is in a state of rapid flux, as various states and countries consider changes to their laws and regulations.

On 2010-SEP-22, The 3rd District Court of Appeals struck down a state law that explicitly barred all lesbians and gay men from adopting children. On 2010-OCT-12, the Florida Department of Children and Families announced that they would not appeal the case further. Florida thus became the last state in the U.S. to terminate a lesbian and gay adoption ban.

Many jurisdictions now allow single adults of all sexual orientations to adopt children. However, some do not extend this to lesbian/gay co-parenting situations. This is a situation in which one lesbian or gay wants to adopt the child of their partner.

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Other hurdles to adoption by same-sex couples:

Even though none of the states prohibits all same-sex couples from adopting, there is no guarantee that they will actually be allowed to adopt. Courts and case workers generally use the welfare of the child to be the prime factor in their decisions. Many judges and case workers are disinclined to approve of such adoptions because they:

bullet Accept the belief, promoted by many social and religious conservatives, that people act, think, behave, parent, think in different ways, depending upon their gender. Thus, any child raised in a family headed by either two men or two women are at an extreme disadvantage, both during childhood and as adults.

bullet Are concerned that there is so much homophobia in American society that a child being raised by two mothers or by two fathers will be ridiculed, rejected, harassed and physically assaulted.

bullet Are homophobic themselves.

So, just because same-sex partners are allowed to adopt in every state, there is no guarantee that a given couple will be approved for adoption.

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See also our essay on foster parenting by same-sex couples.

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Information on the Internet:

bullet The GayLawNet® web site has a section which records news items about lesgay  adoption from . See:

bullet The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has a list of lesbian- and gay-friendly adoption agencies in all 50 states of the U.S., and the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. See:

bullet The Human Rights Campaign Foundation also has a description of current parenting laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. They appear to update the data frequently. See:

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Florida appeals court strikes down gay adoption ban," CNN, 2010-SEP-22, at:

  2. John Couwels, "Florida won't appeal ruling stopping adoption ban by gay men, lesbians," CNN, 2010-OCT-12, at:


Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" religious topics > Homosexuality > Parenting > here

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Copyright © 2002 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-NOV-6
Date of last update: 2010-OCT-16

Author: B.A. Robinson
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