Adoption and Foster Care

Second Parent Adoption

A second-parent adoption allows a second parent to adopt the child of an existing legal parent without terminating the first parent’s parental rights. The result is that both the first and second parent are recognized as legal parents. This is a common choice for same-sex couples as it allows for the recognition of a second parent who is already acting as a parent alongside their partner, the first parent. In addition to not requiring that the parents be in a formal relationship, these adoptions also result in an adoption judgment, which creates a very strong legal parent-child tie even where no blood relationship exists.

Stepparent Adoption

Stepparent adoption allows a new spouse in a family to become a full legal parent of a child without terminating the parental rights of the first parent. Stepparent adoptions require that the parents be married, which, after the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, is possible for same-sex couples across the United States.

While it is currently possible for married same-sex couples to petition for stepparent adoption across the country, Family Equality Council is working to ensure that any threats to this availability on the federal, state, and local levels are defeated.

Joint Adoption

Joint adoption allows both members of a couple (not necessarily married, but often restricted to couples who are married) to adopt a child at the same time, creating legal ties to both of the parents in a single step. A great option for same-sex parents adopting a child together, joint adoptions are very secure and also have the benefit of creating ties to both parents from the start. However, the availability of joint adoptions for LGBTQ parents is made more difficult by legal restrictions (as in the case of Mississippi) or the personal objections of child welfare service providers.

Foster Care

A child is placed into foster care when his or her parents are incapable of providing adequate care. The child is then placed with a certified caregiver called a “foster parent,” and many of these placements result in adoptions and the creation of a forever family. While the federal government creates guidelines, the majority of decisions regarding when a child can be removed from his or her parents and with whom they can be placed are made within the child welfare agencies in each state. Similar to joint adoption, becoming an LGBTQ foster parent can be made more difficult by legal restrictions (as in the case of Mississippi) or the personal objections of child welfare service providers.