Adoption of children by LGBT people is an issue of active debate; legislation to stop the practice has been introduced in the United States although such efforts have largely been defeated. There is agreement between the parties, however, that the welfare of children alone should dictate policy.
Legal status around the world
Adoption by same-sex couples is currently legal in the following countries:
- Andorra (2005)
- Belgium (2006)
- Brazil (2010)
- Denmark (2010)
- Iceland (2006)
- Netherlands (2001)
- Norway (2009)
- South Africa (2002)
- Spain (2005)
- Sweden (2002)
- United Kingdom:
- Uruguay (2009)
Adoption by same-sex couples is currently legal in the following jurisdictions:
- Australia: Western Australia (2002) and Australian Capital Territory (2004)
- Canada: Ontario (1995, 1999), British Columbia (1996), Saskatchewan (1998, 2001), Nova Scotia (2001), Manitoba (2002), Newfoundland and Labrador (2002), the Northwest Territories (2002), Quebec (2002) and New Brunswick (2007).
- Mexico: Mexico City (2010)
- United States: the District of Columbia (1995), New Jersey (1998), New York (2002), Indiana (2006), Maine (2007), California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, and the unincorporated territory of Guam.
In the following countries, "stepchild-adoption" is permitted, so that the partner in a registered partnership (or unregistered cohabitation in Israel) can adopt the natural (or sometimes even adopted) child of his or her partner:
In the following jurisdictions, "stepchild-adoption" is permitted, so that the partner in a civil union can adopt the natural (or sometimes even adopted) child of his or her partner:
In February 2006, France's Court of Cassation ruled that both partners in a same-sex relationship can have parental rights over one partner's biological child. The result came from a case where a woman tried to give parental rights of her two daughters to her partner whom she was in a civil union with. In the case of adoption, however, in February 2007, the same court ruled against a lesbian couple where one partner tried to adopt the child of the other partner. The court stated that the woman's partner cannot be recognized unless the mother withdrew her own parental rights.
In 1998, a nursery school teacher from Lons-le-Saunier, living as a couple with another woman, had applied for an authorization to adopt a child from the département (local government) of Jura. The adoption board recommended against the authorization because the child would lack a paternal reference, and thus the president of the département ruled against the authorization. The case was appealed before the administrative courts and ended before the Council of State, acting as supreme administrative court, which ruled against the woman. The European Court of Human Rights concluded that these actions and this ruling were a violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights taken in conjunction with Article 8.
On June 2, 2006, the Icelandic Parliament voted for a proposal accepting adoption, parenting and assisted insemination treatment for same-sex couples on the same basis as heterosexual couples. No member of the parliament voted against the proposal. The law went into effect on June 27, 2006.
A January 2005 ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court allowed stepchild adoptions for same-sex couples. Israel previously allowed limited co-guardianship rights for non-biological parents. Then in February 2008, a court in Israel ruled that same-sex couples are now permitted to adopt a child even if that child is not biologically related to either parent. This marked a watershed in granting equal rights to all gay people in Israel. Isrealli, the official blog of the State of Israel, frequently publishes updates on gay adoption news in Israel. The site also has a complete timeline of gay rights milestones in Israel.
In the U.S., states may restrict adoption by sexual orientation or marital status. However, a federal judge ruled in Adar v. Smith that states must recognize out-of-state adoptions that, if performed in-state would be illegal per the Full Faith and Credit Clause. In the U.S., there are 270,000 children living with same-sex couples. Of these, one-quarter, or 65,000, have been adopted.
Utah and Florida are among the states that historically imposed more stringent restrictions of LGBT adoption. Utah prohibits adoption by "a person who is cohabiting in a relationship that is not a legally valid and binding marriage," making it legal for single people to adopt, regardless of sexual orientation, so long as they are not co-habitating in non-marital relationships.
In Florida, however, the statute forbidding adoptions by gays was struck down by Judge Cindy Lederman in November 2008. In her opinion, Lederman said the law violated equal protection rights for the children and their prospective gay parents; adding that there was no rational basis to prohibit gay parents from adopting, particularly since the state allowed them to act as foster parents. The state is appealing Judge Lederman's decision. The case, In re: Gill, is pending before the Third District Court of Appeals, which heard oral argument on August 26, 2009. During the appeal process, Florida state adoption application forms continue to require prospective adoptive parents to assert that they are neither homosexual nor bisexual.
On November 4, 2008, Arkansas voters approved Act 1, a measure to ban anyone "co-habitating outside of a valid marriage" from being foster parents or adopting children. Although the law could apply to heterosexual couples, it is believed to have been written to target gay couples due to the fact that same-sex marriage is prohibited in that state, thereby making an adoption impossible. Single gay men and lesbians are still allowed to adopt in Arkansas. The law was overturned on April 16, 2010 by state judge Chris Piazza.
As adoptions are mostly handled by local courts in the United States, some judges and clerks accept or deny petitions to adopt on criteria that vary from other judges and clerks in the same state.
In Canada, adoption is within provincial/territorial jurisdiction, and thus the law differs from one province or territory to another. Adoption by same-sex couples is legal in Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Quebec, and New Brunswick. In Alberta, private adoptions and stepchild adoption were allowed in 1999. January 2006 was the first time a child in care of the Alberta government was placed for adoption with a same-sex couple, Lance Anderson and Blair Croft of Edmonton. In the Yukon, the law regarding adoption is ambiguous. NDP MP Libby Davies, has campaigned for national uniformity when it comes to same-sex adoption.[Citation needed]
In Mexico City, the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District passed legislation on 21 December 2009 enabling same-sex couples to adopt children. Eight days later, Head of Government ("Mayor") Marcelo Ebrard signed the bill into law, which officially took effect on 4 March 2010.
In Brazil, same-sex couples can jointly adopt. In Uruguay, same-sex couples can jointly adopt. A government-sponspored adoption law allowing LGBT adoption was approved by the lower house on 28 August 2009, and by the Senate on 9 September 2009. In October 2009, the law was signed by President and took effect. According to Equipos Mori Poll's, 53% of Uruguayans oppose to same sex adoption against 39% that support it. Interconsult's Poll made in 2008 says that 49% oppose to same sex adoption against 35% that support it.
In Australia, same-sex adoption is legal in the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia, while only biological adoption (regardless of type of couple) is possible in Tasmania. The lesbian co-mother or gay co-father(s) can apply to the Family Court of Australia for a parenting order, as 'other people significant to the care, welfare and development' of the child. But the lesbian co-mother and gay co-father(s) will be treated in the same way as a social parent is treated under the law; they will not be treated in the same way as a birth parent. In May 2007, the Victorian Law Reform Commission in Victoria released its final report recommending that the laws be modified to allow more people to use assisted reproductive technologies and to allow same-sex couples to adopt and be recognized as parents to their partner's children.
In New Zealand, preliminary New Zealand Law Commission reports and white papers have raised the issue already, while Metiria Turei, a Green Party of New Zealand List MP raised the issue in late May 2006. In February 2005, the Greens had suggested that an adoption law reform clause should be added to the Relationships (Statutory References) Act 2005, which equalized heterosexual, lesbian and gay spousal status in New Zealand law and regulatory policy, apart from the Adoption Act 1955. While the measure was unsuccessful, it remains to be seen whether a reintroduced adoption law reform bill on its own would fare differently.
Debate over LGBT adoption
Adoption of children by LGBT people is an issue of active debate. In the United States, for example, legislation to stop the practice has been introduced in many jurisdictions; such efforts have largely been defeated, with the exception of Arkansas Act 1. There is agreement between the debating parties, however, that the welfare of children alone should dictate policy. Supporters of LGBT adoption suggest that many children are in need of homes and claim that since parenting ability is unrelated to sexual orientation, the law should allow them to adopt children. Opponents, on the other hand, suggest that the alleged greater prevalence of depression, drug use, promiscuity and suicide among homosexuals (and alleged greater prevalence of domestic violence) might affect children  or that the absence of male and female role models could cause maladjustment.
The existing body of research fails to consider the specific case of adoption: it tends to look more generally at the issue of LGBT parenting rather than adoption and, where adoption is noted, it does not distinguish between adopted children who are parented by unrelated gay persons and those who retain their original family relationships in step-parent households. Nevertheless, the research on the more general case of LGBT parenting has been used to counter the claims of LGBT-adoption opponents, concluding that lesbian mothers do not differ from heterosexual mothers in parenting ability and, while fewer studies exist on gay men and parenting, research suggests gay men may be similar in parenting ability to heterosexual men.
Following these studies, a number of professional organizations have made statements in defense of adoption by same-sex couples. The American Psychological Association has supported adoption by same-sex couples, citing social prejudice as harming the psychological health of lesbians and gays while noting there is no evidence that their parenting causes harm. The American Medical Association has issued a similar position supporting same-sex adoption, stating that while there is little evidence against the practice, lack of formal recognition can cause health-care disparities for children of same-sex parents.
Summary of laws by jurisdiction
|State||LGBT individual may petition to adopt||Same-sex couple may jointly petition||Same-sex partner may petition to adopt partner's child|
|Alabama||Yes||No explicit prohibition||In some jurisdictions|
|Alaska||Yes||No explicit prohibition||In some jurisdictions|
|Arizona||Yes||No explicit prohibition||Unclear|
|Delaware||Yes||No explicit prohibition||In some jurisdictions|
|District of Columbia||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Florida||No (legal challenge pending)||No (legal challenge pending)||No|
|Georgia||Yes||No explicit prohibition||Unclear|
|Hawaii||Yes||No explicit prohibition||In some jurisdictions|
|Kansas||Yes||No explicit prohibition||Unclear|
|Kentucky||Yes||No explicit prohibition||Unclear|
|Louisiana||Yes||No explicit prohibition||In some jurisdictions|
|Maryland||Yes||No explicit prohibition||In some jurisdictions|
|Michigan||Yes||No||No explicit prohibition|
|Minnesota||Yes||No explicit prohibition||In some jurisdictions|
|Montana||Yes||No explicit prohibition||Unclear|
|Nebraska||Unclear||No explicit prohibition||No|
|New Mexico||Yes||Unclear||In some jurisdictions|
|New York||Yes||In some jurisdictions||Yes|
|North Dakota||Unclear||No explicit prohibition||Unclear|
|Ohio||Unclear||Unclear||In some jurisdictions|
|Oklahoma||Yes||No explicit prohibition||Unclear|
|Rhode Island||Yes||No explicit prohibition||In some jurisdictions|
|Tennessee||Yes||No explicit prohibition||Unclear|
|Texas||Yes||No explicit prohibition||In some jurisdictions|
|Virginia||Yes||No explicit prohibition||Unclear|
|West Virginia||Yes||No explicit prohibition||Unclear|
|Country||LGBT individual may petition to adopt||Same-sex couple may jointly petition||Same-sex partner may petition to adopt partner's child||Same-sex couples are allowed to foster or stepchild foster|
|France||Yes||No (adopting your own child is allowed)||Yes||Yes|
|Germany||Yes||No (adopting your own child is allowed)||Yes||Yes|
|Italy||No||No||No||No (but singles can exceptionally foster)|
|Lithuania||No (only in exceptional circumstances)||No||No||No|
|Portugal||Yes||No||No||No (but singles can foster)|
|Same-sex couple joint petition||LGBT individual adoption||Same-sex stepparent adoption|
|New South Wales||No (under review since 2006)||Yes||No|
|Northern Territory||No||Only in exceptional circumstances||No|
|Tasmania||No (under review since 2003)||Yes||Yes|
|Victoria||No (under review since 2007)||Yes||Yes|
- For further information, see: LGBT rights in Australia
- ^Even a de facto opposite sex couple can not jointly adopt a child under the law of the Northern Territory.
- ^-^No individual or single people are allowed to adopt a child, only a married or de facto opposite sex couples under the law of South Australia.
|Same-sex couple joint petition||LGBT individual adoption||Same-sex stepparent adoption|
|Guyana||No (Homosexuality illegal)||No (Homosexuality illegal)||No (Homosexuality illegal)|
|Belize||No (Homosexuality illegal)||No (Homosexuality illegal)||No (Homosexuality illegal)|
|Bolivia||No (constitutional ban)||No (constitutional ban)||No (constitutional ban)|
|Ecuador||No (constitutional ban)||No (constitutional ban)||No (constitutional ban)|
|Honduras||No (constitutional ban)||No (constitutional ban)||No (constitutional ban)|
|El Salvador||No (constitutional ban failed)||No (constitutional ban failed)||No (constitutional ban failed)|
|Dominican Republic||No (constitutional ban)||No (constitutional ban)||No (constitutional ban)|
|Mexico||Yes (only Mexico City)||Yes||Yes (only Mexico City)|
- LGBT parenting
- Same-sex adoption in Brazil
- Same-sex marriages and civil unions
- LGBT rights
- Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth & K. Lee Lerner (eds) (2006). Gender issues and sexuality : essential primary sources.. Thomson Gale. ISBN 1414403259. Primary resource collection and readings. Library of Congress. Jefferson or Adams Bldg General or Area Studies Reading Rms
- Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth & K. Lee Lerner (eds) (2006). Family in society : essential primary sources.. Thomson Gale. ISBN 1414403305. Primary resource collection and readings. Library of Congress. Jefferson or Adams Bldg General or Area Studies Reading Rms
- Stacey, J. & Davenport, E. (2002) Queer Families Quack Back, in: D. Richardson & S. Seidman (Eds) Handbook of Lesbian and Gay Studies. London, SAGE Publications), 355-374.
- New Zealand Law Commission: Adoption- Options for Reform: Wellington: New Zealand Law Commission Preliminary Paper No 38: 1999: ISBN 1-877187-44-5
- Charlotte Patterson, et. al, "Adolescents with Same-Sex Parents: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, November 7, 2007, pg. 2
- Daniel Ottosson (November 2006). LGBT world legal wrap up survey. International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- David Morton Rayside. Queer inclusions, continental divisions: public recognition of sexual diversity in Canada and the United States. University of Toronto Press, 2008. p. 388 (p. 20). ISBN 0802086292.
- Homosexual couples can adopt children, decides to Supreme Court of Justice
- Gays given equal adoption rights
- David Morton Rayside. Queer inclusions, continental divisions: public recognition of sexual diversity in Canada and the United States. University of Toronto Press, 2008. p. 388 (p. 21). ISBN 0802086292.
- Associated Press (1 April 2001). Gay Marriage Goes Dutch. CBS News. Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- Associated Press (17 June 2008). Norway passes law approving gay marriage. MSNBC. Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- Windy City Media Group (1 October 2002). South Africa OKs Gay Adoption. Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- BBC News (22 December 2005). Gay marriage around the globe. Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- BBC News (6 June 2002). Sweden legalises gay adoption. Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- UK Gay News (30 December 2005). New Adoption Law Gives Gay Couples Joint Rights. Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- Ellen Thomas (20 September 2009). New legislation sees gay Scottish couples win right to adopt children. Herald Scotland. Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- Kilian Melloy (18 June 2008). Door to Gay Adoption Opened in Northern Ireland. Edge Boston. Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- Yanina Olivera (9 September 2009). Uruguay approves Latin America's first gay adoption law. AFP. Archived from the original on 17 September 2009. Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- Uruguay Bill Permitting Same-sex Couples to Adopt Becomes Law
- Shelly Dahl (4 August 2007). Stop the proposed same-sex adoption ban. Green Left. Archived from the original on 31 July 2012. Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- Mary C. Hurley (31 May 2007). Sexual Orientation and Legal Rights. Parliament of Canada. Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- Jennifer A. Cooper (31 December 2001). Opinion on Common-Law Relationships. Government of Manitoba. Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- Associated Press (4 March 2010). Mexico City’s gay marriage law takes effect. MSNBC. Retrieved on 6 March 2010.
- Human Rights Campaign (2008). Adoption Laws: State by State. Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- Robert Crooks, Karla Baur. Our sexuality. 10th Edition. Cengage Learning, 2008. p. 520 (p. 255). ISBN 0495095540.
- Ice News (23 May 2009). Finland extends same-sex adoption rules. Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- Ruling of the Court of Cassation, first civil chamber, on recourse 04-17090
- Ruling in E.B. v. France from the European Court of Human Rights
- Council of State (France), ruling 230533
- BBC, France chided over gay adoption, 22 January 2008
- Gay News From 365Gay.com
- AG okays wider adoption rights for same-sex couples, By Yuval Yoaz, February 12, 2008.
- Cargo, Nick. "Federal court orders Louisiana to recognize gay parents", PageOneQ, 2008-12-24. Retrieved on 2008-12-24.
- Romero, Adam, Census Snapshot, Williams Institute, December 2007
- Utah Code Section 78-30-1
- Miami judge rules against Fla. gay adoption ban
- In re: Gill - Case Profile
- Gay-Adoption Ban Passes in Arkansas
- State judge overturns Ark. adoption ban law
- Human Rights Campaign, Adoption Laws, accessed 2007-09-27
- Tracy Wilkinson (22 December 2009). Mexico City moves to legalize same-sex marriage. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 30 December 2009.
- Gay marriage closer to reality in Mexico. Los Angeles Times (29 December 2009). Retrieved on 30 December 2009.
- "Uruguay votes to allow gay adoptions", Melbourne Herald Sun, 2009-08-28. Retrieved on 2009-08-27. Archived from the original on 2012-12-30.
- ADOPTION ACT 1994 - SECT 39 Criteria for application
- Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
- Victorian Law Reform Commission - Current projects - Assisted Reproduction and Adoption - Final Report
- William Satetan,Adopting Premises, Slate, Feb. 7, 2002
- Gordon Moyes
- Patterson, Charlotte J. (2006). Children of Lesbian and Gay Parents. Current Directions in Psychological Science (Vol. 15, Issue 5, pp 241-244). Blackwell Publishing
- Case No. S147999 in the Supreme Court of the State of California, In re Marriage Cases Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4365, Application for leave to file brief amici curiae in support of the parties challenging the marriage exclusion, and brief amici curiae of the American Psychological Association, California Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, and National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter in support of the parties challenging the marriage exclusion
- Paige, R. U. (2005). Proceedings of the American Psychological Association, Incorporated, for the legislative year 2004. Minutes of the meeting of the Council of Representatives July 28 & 30, 2004, Honolulu, HI. Retrieved November 18, 2004, from the World Wide Web http://www.apa.org/governance/. (To be published in Volume 60, Issue Number 5 of the American Psychologist.)
- "Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Marriage", Study finds gay moms equally-good parents, July 2004.
- "Position Statement: Adoption and Co-parenting of Children by Same-sex Couples", American Psychological Association, November 2002.
- "AMA Policy regarding sexual orientation"
- Almanzar, Yolanne. "Florida Gay Adoption Ban Is Ruled Unconstitutional", 2008-11-25.
- State regulatory code allows delaying or denying an adoption based on sexual orientation. With same-sex marriage now legal, how this would apply to married same-sex couples is uncertain.
- Mississippi allows unmarried adults and married couples to petition, amended in 2000 to prohibit "couples of the same gender" from adopting.
- Based on the use of gender neutral and "partner" language on their application for adoption, New Mexico may allow same-sex couples to jointly petition.
- A 2003 law states: "A child-placing agency is not required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, facilitate, refer or participate in a placement that violates the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies." This is expected to allow some agencies to deny placement with LGBT couples and individuals. N.D. CENT. CODE §50-12-03.
- HRC | Oklahoma Adoption Law
- The Rhode Island Family Court routinely grants same sex couple adoptions and has been doing so for over fifteen years. The couples do not necessarily have to reside in Rhode Island and may be having their own birth child, using a surrogate or adopting a child already placed with them. If you adopt in Rhode Island you will receive a decree listing both partners as parents. If you are able to give birth in Rhode Island, you will also receive a birth certificate including both parents. After the adoption, the Rhode Island Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics will amend a locally born child's birth certificate to name both partners as parents. Greenwood and Fink (Providence, RI) - all legal services for same sex adopting couples and more.
- Unmarried, cohabitating couples may not petition to adopt.
- Gay adoption group, New Family Social – UK organisation working for LGBT adopters and their children.
- Families Joined by Love – Books and resources for LGBT families
- AICAN – Australian Intercountry Adoption Network
- National Center for Lesbian Rights – Information about the legal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families, including a legal information hotline
- AAP News Release – AAP Says Children of Same-sex Couples Deserve Two Legally Recognized Parents
- New Position Statement Adopted by the American Psychiatric Association (APA): Adoption and Co-Parenting of Children by Same-Sex Couples (PDF)
- Let Him Stay – A site that describes a recent effort by GLBTQ parents to overturn Florida's ban
- Gay.com – Adoption and Parenting – News and Current Events pertaining to the rights and responsibilities of same-sex parents in adopting and parenting
- Family Pride Coalition – The only US-based national level non-profit organization solely dedicated to advocating for LGBT parents and their families
- Families Like Ours – Adoption resource center with a focus on same-sex parenting
- The Rockway Institute for LGBT research in the public interest at Alliant International University
- COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere)
- Canada.com "In the Family Way" – News story of gay and lesbian adoptive families, and the surrogate and donor family
- Families Like Mine
- Diverse Family Resource, PC, Advocates and supporters of LGBT families
- Greenwood and Fink - all legal services for same sex adopting couples and more. – Providing a path to gay and lesbian adoption: all legal services, access to obstetric and pediatric medical services, accommodations, social services, concierge services and other resources.
LGBT and Queer studies
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