Same sex couples face unique legal challenges when they decide to become a family with children. While California allows same-sex couples to adopt, the process can be long and difficult.
The adoption process is often difficult even for heterosexual couples, and same-sex couples face even greater challenges when it comes to adoption. In California, GLBT adoption and second parent adoption are legal and can present significant legal and social challenges for same-sex couples.
Gay and lesbian couples often decide to bring a child into their lives through conception and birth. For a lesbian couple, this involves finding a male donor or visiting a sperm bank and then having one member of the couple become pregnant. In such a partnership, the other parent can then become a legal second parent through stepparent or second parent adoption. Gay men can also become legal parents of a child through the use of a surrogate mother.
Having a child through conception and birth can be a long and difficult process, so some prospective gay parents choose to go through the state system. For these prospective parents, success in adopting from the public child welfare system greatly depends on two things: the state adoption law and the attitude of the adoption agency being utilized. In California, state law protects prospective gay and lesbian parents from discrimination during the adoption process. It is illegal for public agencies in California to reject adoptive parents on the basis of their sexual orientation.
While the law provides some protection for prospective gay and lesbian parents, it does not guarantee that prejudices don’t exist within the agencies. Social workers who are not comfortable with homosexuality may determine that the prospective adoptive parents are unsuitable for a number of other reasons. Private agencies, on the other hand, establish their own set of criteria for prospective adoptive parents. These agencies may consider age, fertility status, marital status, religion and sexual orientation when making adoption decisions. Same-sex couples, then, may not have as much success in finding a private agency that is open to adoption by homosexual parents.
Raising a child can be one of the biggest decisions in your life, so it is important to know all of the legal ramifications of such a decision before engaging in the legal process of adoption. If you are a same-sex couple considering adoption, you should contact an experienced family law attorney who can help you through this difficult and complex process.