San Jose Family Law Attorney Discusses Adoption for Same Sex Couples:
In March 2007, the Urban Institute and the Williams Institute at the University Of California School Of Law reported that over 65,000 adopted children are being raised by same-sex parents in the United States. The same report estimated more than 14,100 foster children were living with one or more gay or lesbian foster parents. Though denied the right to marry in every state except for Massachusetts and California, more and more same-sex couples are turning to adoption and foster care to form families.
Enduring the time-consuming process of adoption or foster care is difficult enough for heterosexual couples, but gays and lesbians face additional complications.
Eleven states and Washington D.C. either implicitly or explicitly state that sexual orientation cannot legally prevent gays and lesbians from adopting. Three states have laws denying gays and lesbians the right to adopt or to even take in foster children. Though Mississippi allows single gays and lesbians to adopt, it prohibits same-sex couples from adopting. Utah excludes same-sex couples indirectly through a statute barring all unmarried couples from adopting or taking in foster children. Florida is currently the only state that specifically bans “homosexual” individuals from adopting, although the state does allow them to be foster parents.
For prospective gay and lesbian parents, success in adopting from the public child welfare system depends on the state adoption law and the attitude of the agency. For example, in New York and California, gay and lesbian prospective adoptive parents are protected against discrimination. It is illegal for public agencies in those states to reject adoptive parents on the basis of sexual orientation. However, that is not a guarantee that prejudices don’t exist. Social workers who are uncomfortable with homosexuality may find the prospective adoptive parents unsuitable for other reasons. Private agencies establish their own criteria for the prospective adoptive parents. Age, religion, fertility status, marital status and sexual orientation all may be agency considerations.
Each state decides independently who can adopt. Since the final decision is made by judges at the county level, the availability of adoption as an option to openly gay and lesbian couples is influenced by the political and social community in which the family lives. The court’s decision hinges on the “best interest” of the child, a concept interpreted differently by different judges.
If you are a same-sex couple and have questions about adoption, call our experienced team of family law attorneys. We handle all types of family law cases. We have five Bay Area locations, including San Mateo, Redwood City, San Jose, Monterey, and Fremont. We offer a free consultation, either in person or over the phone. Call today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced San Jose Family Law Attorney.