The United States has nearly 95,000 households consisting of same-sex couples with children. Nearly 73% of those households have only biological children of one member of the couple, while 21% are step-children or adopted children only. Interestingly, 6% are a combination of biological and step- or adopted children.
Same-sex couples who wish to start families typically turn to adoption. It’s also possible for one of the partners to have a biological child from a previous relationship or marriage. The process of adopting a stepchild is generally much more straightforward than a couple adopting a child from an adoption agency or out of foster care. However, any type of adoption can incur significant expense and require tremendous amounts of paperwork. Retaining a qualified Austin same-sex couple and LGBTQ couple adoption lawyer can help guide you through the process.
The United States Supreme Court’s Ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges recognized that same-sex couples retain the same marriage rights as their opposite-sex counterparts. In broad terms, the ruling upheld the right to legally marry as well as individual rights typically given to married spouses. One of the commonly recognized marital rights of any couple is the right to have children. In turn, the 2015 ruling states that one of the benefits of same-sex marriage is the ability to adopt children.
Before the supreme court ruling, each state could make its own laws regarding the legality of same-sex adoption. Some states chose to make same-sex adoption illegal, while others actively protected the rights of same-sex couples to adopt; still others had no laws at all. However, the 2015 ruling made laws declaring same-sex adoption illegal, null and void.
After the Supreme Court ruling, a few states attempted to pass legislation designed to work around the ruling and continue to exclude LGBTQ couples from adopting. Notably, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, passed legislation to allow faith-based organizations to exclusively control adoption. Since the government cannot force private, faith-based organizations to adopt to anyone, LGBTQ citizens could not adopt.
If you wish to adopt in Texas, keep in mind that faith-based organizations may still choose not to work with LGBTQ couples. In general, state law cannot require individuals and organizations to give up strictly held religious beliefs. In light of this First Amendment right, you may want to pursue adoption outside of a faith-based organization. However, not all faith-based organizations restrict same-sex couples from adoption. To learn more about your rights to adopt, contact our Austin adoption attorney.
The Supreme Court’s decision did not address unmarried individuals, as it was a decision regarding LGBTQ marriage rights. Currently, however, the state of Texas does not prohibit single LGBTQ individuals and couples from adopting children. Finally, Texas does not prohibit a same-sex partner from petitioning to adopt his or her partner’s children.
The language used is “does not prohibit” for a reason – Texas state courts have not heard disputed cases of same-sex married couples adopting a child. Lower courts have allowed such options as well as adoptions by same-sex unmarried couples. More and more, same-sex adoption appears to be gaining traction in Texas courts.
Overall, experts estimate the number of children living with at least one LGBTQ parent lies anywhere between 6 and 14 million, a number which would likely increase with the inclusion of children living with gay parents who are not open about their sexuality. LGBTQ parents have proven to be loving, effective parents to the vast majority of children, and many couples are interested in adopting subsequent children.
Around two million LGBTQ individuals or members of same-sex couples nationwide have expressed interest in adoption. Currently, only 4% of all adoptive couples are same-sex couples – an estimated 16,000 couples raising around 22,000 adopted children. However, the millions of prospective parents available means more of the nation’s children currently in the foster system could experience permanent, loving homes.
In fact, same-sex parents are as much as four times more likely than opposite-sex parents to raise an adopted child – 13% of all same-sex parents as compared to 4% of opposite-sex parents. The statistics show that not only are same-sex couples willing to adopt, they want to adopt in large numbers. However, same-sex couples likely need more legal help than their opposite-sex counterparts to adopt.