Site Search

Adoption and Foster Parenting

For many generations, parenting by LGBT people was not an option. Increasing acceptance by society has made it possible for many LGBT couples and individuals to adopt or become foster care parents to infants, children, and teens. Even as nontraditional families continue to thrive in our country, many anti-LGBT religious and political groups campaign against LGBT individuals and couples adopting or becoming foster care parents.

Whether or not an individual or couple can adopt within any particular state may depend upon what county they live in or the judge that hears their case. States also vary on second-parent/step-parent/joint adoption laws, which allow the non-biological or non-legal parent to establish a legal relationship with their child.

In some states, LGBT people can adopt and become foster care parents, in other states they cannot. For instance:

  • Florida – the only state that explicitly prohibits adoption by gay and lesbian couples and same-sex couples.
  • Nebraska – Department of Social Services prohibits adoption and foster care by individuals known to be gay or lesbian.
  • Utah – forbids adoption and foster care by unmarried cohabiting couples, thereby discriminating against all same-sex couples
  • Mississippi – Prohibits adoption and second-parent adoption by same-sex couples

Conservative religious and political groups are working hard to bring up legislation or ballot measures that would ban LGBT individuals and couples from adopting or becoming foster care parents.  A March 2007 report from the Williams Institute confirms that prohibiting LGBT people from adopting or becoming foster care parents would bring more instability in the lives of youth in the foster care system and increased costs to the states.  Even though this legislation has been defeated in states like Ohio, Georgia, and Texas, we do not expect the anti-LGBT groups to stop their malicious campaign against LGBT parents. 

In contrast to the claims of conservative groups, many important child welfare organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, National Association of Social Workers, Child Welfare League of America, and the North American Council on Adoptable Children support the right of LGBT persons to adopt and/or be a foster parent. 

For more information on the status of adoption, foster care and parenting laws in your state see Overview of State Adoption Laws and for a general overview of the status of same-sex adoption laws see Adoption by Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Parents: An Overview of Current Law.