The LGBTQ Community and Adoption in 2018
Many LGBTQ individuals and couples plan on someday having a family. For a number of these couples, that means adoption. Even for two same-sex female couples who have a child through artificial insemination, the non-birth mother should still legally adopt the child to make certain her rights are not questioned at any point. This is usually done through what’s legally called a second parent adoption. This allows a co-parent to share legal rights with the other parent, regardless of their marital status. If you’re thinking about moving to another state, you need to understand the adoption laws in that state before you make your home there.
Challenges to LGBTQ Adoption
Unfortunately, LGBTQ adoption rights have been challenged in a number of states. There has yet to be a court case similar to Obergefell v. Hodges to establish a federal decision on same-sex couples and adoption. This means that each state can pass its own laws regarding adoption and LGBTQ couples. In some states, laws have been passed protecting the right of all people, regardless or orientation, to adopt. In other cases, states have refused to pass any sort of non-discrimination law or have even actively worked to take away the rights of LGBTQ couples to adopt.
Where Your Rights Are Protected
If you’re ready to start a family, here are the states that offer protections based on both orientation and gender identity:
- New Mexico
- New York
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
There are a few states that have protections based or sexual orientation, but not gender identity. They include Montana, Arizona, Michigan, and Virginia. Virginia, however, has recently passed laws that allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples, walking back those protections.
Challenges to Adoption
There are a number of states that have worked to prevent same-sex couples from adopting. Nebraska, for example, has often used what some have said is the state’s policy regarding two unrelated adults from adopting children to deny LGBTQ couples. Others have challenged this policy, saying that it has only been applied to same-sex couples. No firm decision has been made in this case as of 2018. Alabama, Michigan, Texas, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota have passed laws allowing adoption agencies to claim “religion exemptions” for allowing same-sex couples from adopting.
Recently, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma legislatures have also considered bills that have been introduced as “child welfare” laws. Despite the name, these laws aren’t really aimed at improving child welfare. Instead, they focus on restricting same-sex couples from adopting. In Oklahoma, the bill was passed and signed into law by Governor Fallen on May 11, 2018.
While the laws are always in flux, currently these are states that LGBTQ couples may wish to avoid if they’re considering adopting. You can always ask your gay or lesbian real estate agent to point you towards resources regarding adoption in the state you’re planning on moving to.