How Same-Sex Couples Can Navigate the Process of Adoption

What Same-Sex Families Should Expect During an Adoption

As of the 2010 census, there were about 594,000 same-sex couple households in this country. Of those households, 115,000 included children. While about 73 percent of the children living in a same-sex household were the biological offspring of one of the partners, the legalization of same-sex marriage means that more couples will be able to adopt.

Background of Same-Sex Adoption

On June 26, 2015, same-sex households in the United States rejoiced as the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage would be legal in all 50 states and American territories. The legality of marriage between same-sex partners meant that one partner could adopt the other’s biological child or children. It also meant that same-sex couples could adopt children through public and private adoption agencies and foster care programs. Before the ruling, same-sex couples could not legally adopt one another’s biological children, nor could both be listed as the adoptive parents of a child who was not biologically related.

Pathways to Adoption

There are several pathways to adoption. In a marriage, it may be possible to adopt your partner’s child or children. If the other biological parent has relinquished rights, this facilitates the new spouse’s pathway to adoption, and it’s true in either same-sex or heterosexual marriages and civil unions. Another pathway to adoption is surrogacy. In some surrogacy situations, one partner may be the biological parent of the child. In other scenarios, both the egg and sperm are from donors. Other potential pathways to adoption for same-sex couples include:

  • Foster parenting
  • Private placement
  • Private adoption agencies
  • International adoption

New Jersey Adoption Laws for Same-Sex Couples

Adoptions in New Jersey may go more smoothly than in other states. New Jersey’s laws explicitly allow for:

  • Joint adoption by same-sex couples
  • Adoption by the same-sex partner of a biological parent
  • Adoption by single LGBTQ individuals who will raise a child on their own

Choosing an Adoption Pathway

Each couple may have their own preference about which pathway to choose for adoption. Some couples might prefer to be foster parents first. This allows them to get to know the child and determine if the child is a good fit for their family. It is also possible to foster a child without adopting. Some couples might want to get to know the birth parent or parents before the child is born. Other couples might prefer to work with an adoption agency. Some factors to consider when choosing an adoption pathway include:

  • The age of the child
  • Whether the child has special needs
  • The cost of the adoption process
  • The amount of time that the process takes
  • Access to information about the child’s biological family
  • Access to social support services

Requirements for a Same-Sex Couple to Adopt a Child

In New Jersey, same-sex couples must adhere to the same regulations for adoption as heterosexual couples who wish to adopt. The specific rules that a couple needs to follow will depend on whether the adoption is through a public agency, private agency or foster program. Those requirements might include:

  • Completion of a home study
  • Filing appropriate paperwork
  • Attending a final court hearing
  • Developing a contract with the birth parents
  • Obtaining consent in the case of a foster child

Starting the Adoption Process

If you are part of a same-sex couple interested in adopting a child, consider working with a same-sex family lawyerat the Law Offices of Kelly Burton Rocco. We’ll explain the adoption process in New Jersey and tell you about your rights and responsibilities under the state’s adoption laws. Contact our law office in Hackensack, New Jersey, today at (201) 343-0078 in order to schedule a consultation. You can also email us directly at

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