Other Considerations About Adoption for Gay Couples

by Katharine Swan

Choosing which kind of adoption you want to pursue – closed, open, or semi-open – is only the beginning. There is much to consider and accomplish between the time that you decide to adopt and the time that you actually do adopt. Although the lengthy process may seem intimidating, every part of it is there for a reason: ultimately, so that your family and the child benefit from the best match possible.

The Home Study

In order for the courts to place a child with you, you will need to have completed a home study. Although the home study takes an average of three to six months to complete, the actual time frame can vary. A private agency may finish the study a little faster, but the cost is typically around $1,000 to $3,000 just for the home study; public agencies usually don’t charge, but may take longer to complete the study.

AdoptionDespite what the name might imply, the home study is about more than just an inspection of your house. In fact, the home study is an in-depth analysis that allows the social worker, the courts, and the adoption agency to ensure that you and your partner are fully prepared for the responsibility of raising a child.

As might be expected, the home study will look at all the cold, hard facts: your job security and financial management, your physical health, references, criminal background, and the condition of your home. The social worker’s intent is to ensure that physically and financially, you can handle the responsibility of raising a child. However, the home study is concerned with determining if your home will be a place where a child can feel emotionally secure, as well. Therefore, the study will also include topics such as your own upbringing, your relationship with your partner, your feelings about not being able to have a biological child (for whatever reason), and how the new child will be integrated into the family – particularly if there are already children living in the home. Once all of this information has been gathered, the social worker will write his or her assessment of whether you and your partner are fit to adopt.

Naturally, the home study can be an extremely stressful time for the adoptive family. You and your partner might feel a great deal of pressure to behave, answer questions, or have your home look a certain way. However, it is important to remember that the social worker’s goal is not to discredit you, but to ensure the child you adopt will gain a safe, loving home.

There are a few things you can do to make the home study easier on you and your partner. It may help to ask questions and know what information the social worker will need ahead of time, so that you have plenty of time to get everything together. Many people find the inspection of the home to be the most stressful part of the process; however, rather than judging your cleaning skills, the social worker is looking for things like smoke detectors and an evacuation plan in case of emergency – things that will help create a safe environment for a child.

Most of all, it is important to be yourself with the social worker. Be positive about what you and your partner can offer a child, but be honest too. Remember, the information contained in your home study is part of the process of matching you up with the right birth mother and/or child. Additionally, if you are caught lying during the home study, you may be disqualified from adopting a child.

Dear Birth Mother: Writing a Letter of Introduction

In an open adoption, the birth mother ultimately has the choice of who will raise her baby. To help her narrow down her selections, the adoption agency will give her letters of introduction from the prospective adoptive families, also known as “Dear Birth Mother” letters. These letters are designed to give the birth mother an idea of what each adoptive family has to offer her child.

Letter WritingObviously, there is a lot riding on your letter of introduction. Since a birth mother will make her preliminary decisions based on the information contained in those letters, you should make sure that the letter contains what you feel is most important. Most “Dear Birth Mother” letters contain information about the adoptive family’s work, lifestyle, neighborhood, and religious preferences. You also may be asked to select one or more photos to accompany your letter of introduction.

When preparing your letter of introduction and accompanying photos, it is important to remember that your goal here is not to find a child, but to find a birth mother. Your letter of introduction should be friendly and honest, as it is the first step of a relationship that will last many years.

Making the Decision to “Come Out”

As a gay or lesbian adoptive parent, you have an additional consideration that traditional families do not have: whether to “come out” to the adoption agency. Some gay or lesbian adoptive parents may worry that their sexual orientation could affect their chances of adoption – and in some cases, this concern may be valid.

Your state of residence’s legal position toward gay and lesbian adoption may play a major part in your decision to reveal – or disguise – your sexual orientation. There are several states in which gays or lesbians are restricted from adoption in some form: for example, Utah prohibits all singles and unmarried couples from adopting, while Florida has passed laws that prohibit out gays and lesbians from adopting. Even in states that have not attempted to restrict gays and lesbians from adopting, adoption agencies or social workers may be reluctant to place a child with a gay or lesbian family. Additionally, only certain states allow second parent adoption, which allows both you and your partner to legally hold the same rights as parents. Therefore, it is important to research your state’s laws and previous cases regarding gay and lesbian adoption.

Unless you find yourself in a situation where you will be unable to adopt otherwise, any form of pretense during the home study or adoption process is not advised, as it can disqualify you from adopting a child; lying about your sexual orientation, even in a state that does not restrict gay or lesbians from adopting, can be grounds for the courts to refuse to place a child with you. In order to allow you to be forthcoming about your sexual orientation, you should seek out an adoption agency that has a track record of placing children with gay or lesbian parents. Get recommendations from other gay or lesbian parents, or even ask up front, when you are meeting with an agency for the first time, what their success rate is with gay and lesbian parents.

Starting Your Family

Adoption is a big decision for you and your partner. To compound the seriousness of the decision, you may find yourself bombarded with impressive sounding terminology and legalese. As these issues represent important decisions for you and your partner to make during the process of adoption, it is important to be able to see beyond the big words and the fine print, and consider what will be best for you, your partner, and the child you will adopt.

Information published on The Rainbow Babies website is not a substitute for proper medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or care. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Disclaimer: The Rainbow Babies provides sample contracts and legal/social health articles for informational purposes only—please do not consider it as legally-binding advice of any kind.