Growing Your LGBT Family

Scales of JusticeThe day of the adoption hearing and the finalization of the adoption is always a heartwarming occasion. Having handled numerous adoption cases, I have had the pleasure of witnessing the special moment in which a child is formally acknowledged as a member of the family. Being able to see the dream of having a child realized is truly one of the greatest joys of my career.

At times, the adoption process can also be an anxious experience. To make the adoption process run as smoothly as possible, it is important that individuals seeking an adoption are informed about adoption laws in their state – and more specifically, their county.

Often times, the anxiety that a couple experiences when going through the adoption process can be magnified when that couple is gay. Many LGBTQ couples fear that they are at a disadvantage as opposed to straight-couples in the adoption process. Sadly, this fear is not unfounded.

While most agencies will consider adoption by members of the LGBTQ community and the National Adoption Center website preaches, “No person should be denied consideration in the adoption process solely based on… sexual orientation” many states still make it very difficult for gay couples.

As you might imagine, states that are traditionally more progressive make it easier for members of the LGBTQ community to adopt. Massachusetts, California and New York have the highest number of homosexual adoptions. On a national level, adoption by same-sex couples has become easier. This October, the Los Angeles Times reported that the number of gay couples adopting has tripled over the last decade.

The intricacies of adoption law from state to state can be overwhelming for many couples going through such a life-altering time. For those who are thinking about growing their family through adoption, I offer the following tips:

– Be informed about adoption laws in your state and in your county;

– Consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable about the laws in your county; and,

– Be mindful of acts of discrimination and make a record of any discrimination you encounter during your adoption process.

While at times the process of adoption can seem filled with obstacles and challenges, remember that love was the catalyst for this new family and will continue to be the foundation as it grows.


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Ellen S. Fischer of the Law Office of Ellen S. Fischer has been working closely with individuals and families throughout the greater Philadelphia region for more than 20 years. Ellen received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Temple University and returned to earn a Juris Doctor degree from the Temple University School of Law. Ellen serves on a number of leadership committees and is a member of Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia (GALLOP). In addition to LGBTQ services, Ellen's practice areas are family law and personal injury.