Same Sex Adoption


While there are a few U.S. States and some countries that specifically prohibit same sex adoption, there are others that specifically allow singles, same-sex, or unmarried couples to adopt. In the U.S., the adoption laws are different in each state. Most laws do not mention sexual orientation when defining the requirements to adopt. The requirements vary based on the type of adoption – domestic, international, or foster adoption.

  • Domestic Adoption (in the U.S.):
    • Unless there is a state law or adoption agency policy that doesn’t allow same sex adoption, then it is up to the prospective birthparents to choose the adoptive parents for their child. However, it is best to contact an attorney who specializes in adoption to make sure you understand the laws in your state.
  • Foster Adoption:
    • Unless there is a state law that doesn’t allow same sex adoption, the child welfare professional or judges will make placement decisions based on the best interest of the child.
  • International Adoptions:
    • Many countries currently do not allow same sex adoption.
    • U.S. citizens must first be eligible to adopt under U.S. law (determined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)
    • If unmarried, you must be at least 25 years old
    • If married, you must jointly adopt the child
    • Must also meet your home state’s adoption requirements
    • Each foreign country has its own requirements for adopting parents

Types of Same Sex Adoption

There are several ways for a same sex adoption to take place. A joint adoption is where a married or unmarried gay couple will adopt a child. A second parent adoption is when one parent adopts a child and then later a second parent completes the necessary paperwork to adopt the child so they can share the responsibilities of parenting the child.

It is important to always seek the advice of a qualified adoption attorney so they can explain the current adoption laws in your state or refer you to adoption attorneys who practice in other states or internationally.

Reviewing adoption agency websites and contacting them directly will help with finding an agency that will welcome same sex families. While specific challenges continue to face many prospective adoptive parents, those challenges depend on where you live and whether you adopt as a single or a couple.

Additional information about same sex adoption can be found at: