When it comes to adoption, same-sex couples have the same options as heterosexual couples. They have many options to expand their family, and the legal processes are largely the same.
Below is a breakdown of some of the ways couples may adopt a child. Our firm can discuss your unique family and goals and help you take the best route.
Thousands of children in the U.S. are in the dependency system after being removed from their families by the court. Before the State of Pennsylvania can remove a child from a home and mark him or her as dependent and on the track to adoption, the state must make all reasonable efforts to reunify the child with the biological family.
Public child welfare agencies often receive funding from the government, religious groups, or non-profit organizations. They do not work to match adoptable children with new parents, however.
Prospective same-sex parents adopt through the public dependency system when they want to help a child in need or one in an abusive or neglectful situation. They may choose to foster a child, but they are prepared for the fact that fostering first does not always end in adoption. Our attorneys can assist couples with exploring the public adoption route. We can connect them with the right agencies and professionals and help them complete the process.
Private Agency Adoption
Birth parents may work through an agency to choose prospective adoptive parents for their child. Some birth parents and adoptive parents get to know each other before the adoption takes place. In other cases, an agency will work alone to match a child with parents.
The private agency process is different from that of a public agency because the child never enters the government dependency system. Rather, he or she is matched with a new family privately, often before birth.
Stepchild and Second Parent Adoption
Many same-sex couples adopt one another’s children from a previous relationship. To complete the process, the non-custodial parent (the parent without custody of the child) must terminate his or her parental rights. This change can happen with the non-custodial parent’s consent or through involuntary termination. Most often, involuntary termination results from abandonment or failure to be consistent in the child’s life for the last six months or more.
After the non-custodial parent’s parental rights are terminated, the stepparent may finalize the adoption. Stepparents who adopt their spouse’s child then become a legal parent of that child.
When a person is unable to care for a child, it’s often the best interest of the child to be in the permanent care of a birth family member. Kinship adoption refers to the process of adopting and becoming the legal parent of a family member’s child. We often see this situation when a parent is too young to handle the responsibility of caring for a child or when there are addiction or mental health concerns.
With every type of adoption, success is all about taking steps in the best interest of the child and the family. Our lawyers make sure the process goes smoothly, so families can enjoy this exciting time.
Your Legal Rights
Adoption by same-sex couples became legal in all 50 states in 2016. Depending on the jurisdiction, however, couples still may face some hurdles. For example, some states have restrictions on same-sex partners fostering children. Other couples have experienced difficulties with social workers and agencies when trying to adopt.
If you are a same-sex couple considering adopting or fostering a child, it’s important to know the most up-to-date laws in your jurisdiction before proceeding. An experienced lawyer can explain your rights and guide you through the process.
Contact Our Adoption Lawyers for Assistance
If you’re a same-sex couple looking to adopt, we can help. Contact Petrelli Previtera, LLC for a confidential consultation about adoption. During our meeting, we will discuss your family’s goals and come up with the best course of action.