As of January 2020, California has introduced 150 state bills and resolutions intended to advance LGBTQ+ civil rights. The state passed AB 460 concerning LGBTQ+ adoption in California and engages in these bills’ family planning practices. However, similarly to the adoption process for heterosexual couples, adoption laws may vary from state to state. LGBTQ+ couples looking to adopt must look closely at local adoption laws to understand their eligibility.
How does LGBTQ+ Adoption Work?
The cost, wait time, and programs available are virtually the same for all adoptive couples regardless of their sexuality. However, the LGBTQ+ adoption process will require more adoption agency-specific research. Further, it will require couples to seek an adoption agency open to LGBTQ+ couples and parenting. The selected adoption agency will then create a profile that collects in-depth details about the couple, such as information regarding their;
- Home environment
- Plan to raise the child, and
- The reason behind their desire to adopt a child.
The couple’s profile can also include photos showcasing their lifestyle, shown to expecting birth mothers. Adoptive parents are encouraged to provide information with genuine and honest pictures to ensure the child’s environment is accurately portrayed. After the profile has been completed, the adoption agency will perform a home study. In adoptions, home studies determine if the home is a safe and stable environment appropriate to raise a child in.
Who is Allowed to Adopt in California?
The California Family Code Section 8802 allows any of the following persons to adopt a child:
- A person who was named in the will of a deceased parent as the intended adoptive parent
- A person who the child has been placed with for adoption
- A legal guardian who has served as the child’s legal guardian for a minimum of one year
- An adult related to the child or their half-sibling by affinity or blood (This includes any step, great, great-great, or grand relatives, or a spouse)
Under these specifications, any person who meets the requirements of the California Family code can file for adoption. California Family Code does not include any restrictions on sexual orientation as a determining factor of a person’s eligibility to adopt a child. In other words, a single LGBTQ+ individual can legally adopt a child on their own, so long as they meet the requirements outlined by the family code.
Moreover, California Family Code Section 197 defines domestic partners as “two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring.” Under this definition and California Family Code Section 9000, registered domestic partners in California can petition to adopt a child.
Second Parent Option & Co-Parenting Agreements:
The need for a second parent option is the main difference between LGBTQ+ couples and heterogeneous couples adopting a child. Adoption by same-sex couples only allows for one legal parent. LGBTQ+ couples are offered the Second Parent Option and the opportunity to enter into a Co-Parenting Agreement.
Second Parent Option
The Second Parent Option is a legal process that allows the second parent to adopt the child without infringing on the first parent’s parental rights. LGBTQ+ couples are then recognized as legal parents to the child even if their adoption agency did not initially allow them to do so. The process allows both parents to have legal rights to their child, similar to those biological parents are given regarding custody and visitation. However, because adoption laws vary from state to state, not all states will have the Second Parent Option. Luckily, for LGBTQ+ couples in California, second-parent adoption is an existing option that same-sex couples are encouraged to use.
Even if a couple chooses to utilize the second parent option, same-sex couples who have decided to adopt a child are encouraged to develop a co-parenting agreement. Co-Parenting Agreements are legal document that addresses the specific rights and responsibilities of raising a child together in a detailed manner. Often, same-sex couples developing a co-parenting agreement will seek assistance from an attorney to ensure the document is created correctly. Co-Parenting Agreements can develop specific plans for raising the child and develop guidelines for continued parenting if the same-sex couple should separate.
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one has more questions regarding LGBTQ+ adoption, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further inquiries. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.