California LGBT adoption

Adopting a child is wonderful experience. However, it can also be highly complex, particularly for LGBT individuals and couples. In this post, we’ll cover a few of the many aspects that makes California a unique place for LGBT adoption.

What makes LGBT adoption unique?

The LGBT community has different adoption and foster parent trends than the overall U.S. population. For example, the Census Bureau reports that nationally, “same-sex couples are […] at least 4 times more likely to adopt.” The same report also notes that LGBT families are “six times more likely to foster children.” This is notable because, in many cases, families begin with foster care and move on to adopt their foster children. That said, there are in fact several different types of adoption, which we’ll note below.

Additionally, though gay marriage is now legal nationwide, the LGBT community still faces discrimination in adoption, and there continues to be some regulations affecting LGBT folks in particular, particularly regarding international adoption. Therefore, it is advisable for LGBT folks to consult an experienced attorney when considering adopting.

What makes adoption in California unique?

Though detailed statistics on LGBT adoption are not widely available at the state level, there are some interesting state vs national adoption trends overall. For example, individuals (as compared to couples) are more likely to adopt in California than nationwide: 28.3% of CA adoptions are by single females, while single males make up 4.6% of CA adoptions. Compare this to 26.5% and 3.2% nationally.

In California, adoptions are governed by what is called the “Family Code.” Though we cannot go into an in-depth discussion here, there are many pieces of this legislation that are unique to California. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

There are several types of adoptions in California, and each one has a different required steps, and in some cases, different rules and regulations. These include:

  • Stepparent or domestic partner adoption (most often when a stepparent adopts a child from another marriage)
  • Adoption of an Indian/Native American (where additional rules and requirements must be followed)
  • Agency adoption (where a licensed organization controls the adoption process)
  • Independent adoption (where the birth parent/s choose the adoptive parents themselves, and the parties navigate the process without an agency)
  • International adoption (where a child is adopted from another country)

Even within these categories, there are nuances in how a potential parent must proceed, as well as varying levels of communication between the birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s). For example, when going through an agency, potential adoptive parent(s) will be carefully screened. After the child is placed with a new family, it may still be six months or more until the adoption is finalized. This process differs if you are adopting a child from another country, or adopting directly from the birth parents.

Though these categories are relatively common in other states, California has many laws governing the adoption process that are unique. For example, a law passed in 2013 changed the requirements of birth parents giving their child up for adoption. In the past, the birth parents waived all rights and responsibilities when the child was adopted. In the new law, “the termination of the parental duties and responsibility of the parent or parents may be waived if both the parent or parents and the prospective adoptive parent or parents sign a waiver at any time prior to the finalization of the adoption.” In other words, if all parties agree, the birth parents can have some contact with the child throughout their life. This can have significant ramifications on your child’s life, and is one of the many items to consider when adopting

In this post, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what makes LGBT adoption unique in California. Adopting a child is not as simple as filling out a few forms–navigating the adoption journey takes time. LGBT folks are also more likely to face discrimination and other barriers. Our attorneys, based in the Los Angeles area, and serving LGBT individuals and families in West Hollywood, Palm Springs, and beyond, are skilled in navigating LGBT adoptions. Contact us for a free consultation to see if we may be the right firm for your adoption journey.