The first step in the adoption process is deciding whether to adopt through a private or public adoption agency. Both types of agencies hold orientation sessions. During the orientation session, the agency’s adoption process is discussed in detail. The philosophies and fees are also discussed during the orientation session. For those seeking to adopt, orientation is where you have an opportunity to have your questions answered. At the end of orientation, an application will be given to those seeking to adopt.
There are agencies that specialize in assisting LGBT couples and individuals with adoption. By using an agency that specializes in LGBT adoption, discrimination is less likely to occur. Other options for the LGBT community include foster care adoption and international adoption. The adoption process is the same for members of the LGBT community seeking to adopt, just as it is with anyone else seeking to adopt; starting with a home study.
A home study will be completed after the agency accepts the application. A home study is done by a social worker to evaluate the environment of the home. The home study is a state requirement and varies from state to state. Persons seeking to adopt will have a physical examination, as well as a thorough background check. The home study on average takes approximately two to ten months to complete, as the social worker may make several visits to the home. During this time, the prospective parents will undergo training requirements for adoptive parents.
Upon the birthparents’ termination of parental rights, the social worker will submit a recommendation for approval after the child has been in the home for at least six months. The adoption process is then finalized by the judge awarding the adoptive parents all legal rights and responsibilities of the child. An attorney will facilitate the adoptive process in the cases of independent adoptions where the prospective adoptive parents know the birth parents. Often with an independent adoption, one of the prospective adoptive parents and one of the birth parents are related.
With LGBT adoptions, it is a common practice for one parent to adopt, while the other partner applies to adopt as a second parent or co-parent. In Washington D.C., and in 21 states, second parent adoptions have legally granted by the courts. For example, a lesbian couple may choose to have one partner give birth to the child with the use of a sperm donor, and the other partner become a legal parent through co-parent/second parent or stepparent adoption.
In any instance — whether the couple are both adopting a child or one partner is adopting — it is best to have a lawyer involved who is familiar with LGBT adoptions in the state where the adoption will take place. The purpose of having a lawyer is to protect all parties during the adoption process, as well as in situations where the couple may later choose to break-up or separate after adoption.