July 11, 2022
Yes, same-sex couples can legally adopt children in Texas - with no marriage or partnership required. Adoption by same-sex couples is legal and welcomed in all 50 states. In cases of open adoptions, many birth parents today specifically select gay adoptive parents because they are empathetic, accepting, and loving.
However, despite fewer legal barriers than years ago and gay adoption being more common than ever, same-sex couples pursuing LGBT adoption are not guaranteed an easy path, and may still face challenges with working with faith-based adoption agencies, or in s international adoption situations.
An experienced and understanding LGBT family law attorney in Texas can advocate for you and protect your rights should you face a myriad of issues. In the last several decades, support and acceptance for gay couple adoption, same-sex adoption, and LGBT adoption rights have increased significantly.
Families today are more diverse and unique than ever - and same-sex couples are more likely to be raising foster children and adopted children than heterosexual couples. For many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ+) couples, adoption is the best way to realize dreams of having a family. Same-sex couples have historically faced unique and complex legal issues with adopting children.
Married couples, whether same-sex, trans, cisgender, or opposite-sex couples, can adopt as a couple, as long as they are legally married. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, same-sex couples can also enter into a common-law marriage in Texas. Where common-law marriage is not elected, adoptions involving unmarried same-sex couples may require each parent to go through the adoption process individually, with a minimum 6-month delay between adoptions.
Parentage is the recognition of a parent’s legal relationship with a child. It can be established biologically without legal action. In gay couples, same-sex parentage can be established via various types of adoption. Custody rights are important - and although parents value their children far more than an asset, they don’t always consider the need for legal adoption when one parent is the biological parent.
A second-parent adoption, sometimes called a co-parent adoption, involves a second parent adopting their partner’s biological child as a second child.
The most common type of adoption, stepparent adoption is the adoption of a child by the spouse of the child’s biological or legal parent. In Texas, the child’s other parent must consent to the adoption, and any other legal parent must surrender rights to the child in writing.
A single parent can adopt a child as long as they meet the basic requirements of the state of Texas for foster or adoptive families. This study is the same for LGTQ families as it is for single adopters or opposite-sex couples.
Domestic LGBT adoption is legal in all 50 states, but many gay couples ask “can gay couples adopt a child internationally?”. LGBT families may be able to adopt through an international adoption agency, however, many countries do not permit gay families to adopt. Some countries, like Colombia and Brazil, allow international gay adoption. Other countries, like the Philippines, allow one adult to complete an international adoption and then their partners (second parents) can complete a second-parent adoption in the United States.
When one parent is a biological parent, a second parent adoption may feel like an expensive legal procedure just to be recognized as a parent. And while it may not be legally necessary, adoption is important legal protection for a family. Unfortunately, LGBTQ couples are not immune from divorce and adoption will establish equal rights for a divorcing couple needing to work through custody matters.
The challenges that gay couples face with adoption are not overarching prohibitions, but rather dealing with specific and unique circumstances. Below are some frequently asked questions about LGBT adoptions:
Yes, gay and LGBT couples can adopt a newborn or infant in Texas. The process should not be any different for gay couples than for opposite-sex couples.
No, the adoption process should not take any longer or be more difficult for same-sex couples than for opposite-sex couples.
Gay parents can foster and adopt children in Texas. Texas, along with some other states, does allow adoption agencies receiving taxpayer funding to deny adoptions by LGBT or unmarried couples on grounds of "sincerely held religious beliefs”. Similar legislation exists in other states.
Children certainly have different experiences from one home to another, but LGBT and same-sex parent families can provide a safe, loving environment for children just as any family with opposite-sex parents. Same-sex couples are loving, empathetic parents, and tend to have a high level of commitment and involvement. Abbie Goldberg, a psychologist at Clark University in Massachusetts who is frequently quoted on gay and lesbian parenting issues, stated that “gays and lesbians rarely become parents by accident”.
If you have questions about gay couple adoption in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, consult a family lawyer at Family Law of North Texas. We are well versed in LGBTQ family law and same-sex adoption laws in Texas and can provide one-on-one guidance for your unique family situation. Contact us to arrange a free consultation.
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