Now that same-sex couples are free to marry throughout the U.S., many more of them will likely consider growing their families through adoption. In my work as an adoption consultant, I see so many different kinds of families looking to adopt. Each of them have their own questions and worries about a birth mother picking them based on their background, lifestyle or personal situations. Everyone has their own hurdle to jump over when going through adoption and same-sex parents are no different. When you are trying to adopt as same-sex parents, there are a few special things to consider throughout the process.
1. Know your state’s laws
As was previously the case with same-sex marriage, each state has its own laws about same-sex parents adopting a child. Depending on the state, the laws for adoption can be complicated and unspecific. In general, you can bet that states that were at the forefront of allowing gay marriage will also have easier-to-navigate adoption laws. It is a good idea to work with an adoption consultant or facilitator that understands the nuances of state-by-state laws and can help you find the best path for a successful adoption.
2. Understand the birth mother
Ultimately, whether or not you will adopt hinges upon a birth mother picking you. Arguably this is the most difficult part of the adoption process as it is the piece you cannot control. Some birth mothers are looking for a particular family while others are more open to the different options out there. But as a same-sex couple, it may take longer for a birth mother to pick you.
Here is an important thing to remember: You’re not just waiting for any birth mother to select you; you’re waiting for the right birth mother to select you. Most domestic adoptions these days are semi-open, meaning the birth mother is sent regular updates on how the child is doing. You want to have a birth mother that you can have a good relationship with. If she has any reservations about choosing you, then that relationship would not be the best option for you and the child.
3. Showcase who you really are
Besides accepting that some birth mothers are not going to pick you, the way you present yourselves to potential birth mothers will make a huge difference. This is true for any person going through the adoption process. The key is constructing your profile, the “scrapbook” that the birth mother is going to look at, in a way that provokes an emotional response from her. By showcasing who you really are and how that will benefit the child’s daily life, you are more likely to have a connection with the birth mother.
In general, same-sex adoption is not radically different from heterosexual or single-parent adoption. But single parents and same-sex parents may have a slightly more difficult time adopting because of birth mother preferences. Focusing on the presentation of you as a couple will make a huge difference in your adoption success.
Bio: Nicole Witt is the owner of The Adoption Consultancy, an unbiased resource serving pre-adoptive families by providing them with the education, information and guidance they need to safely adopt a newborn, usually within three to 12 months. She is also the creator of Beyond Infertility, a community support site and online magazine geared towards families who have gone through infertility. You can visit that website at Beyond Infertility.