LGBT Adoption: Are Gays Allowed to Adopt in United States?

By Babygest Staff
Last Update: 10/01/2019

In United States, in general, any single adult or a married couple (US citizen) can be eligible to adopt.

In order to do this, the only thing necessary is that the adopters comply with the requirements demanded by the law of the United States.

However, international gay adoption is much more complicated, as few countries allow same-sex couples to adopt.

What is Gay Adoption?

Gay adoption is adoption by a same-sex couple, that is, by two men or two women.

The term gay family is also used to describe families made up of two fathers or two mothers and their children, who may have different origins:

  • Be adopted
  • Be born by surrogacy
  • Being born thanks to an assisted reproduction treatment with donor sperm (only in the case of lesbian couples).

Since women can conceive their own children, unless there is a serious fertility problem, gay adoption is more common in male than female couples.

Where a Gay Couple may adopt?

There are two types of adoption depending on the nationality or origin of the adopted child:

In the following sections we will comment on both types of adoption when the adopters are a couple of men or women

In the United States

Before various U.S. Supreme Court decisions, adoption laws varied considerably from state to state. While some states granted full adoption rights to same-sex couples, others totally prohibited it or only allowed the partner to adopt the other partner's biological child.

First, on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court struck down all prohibitions on same-sex marriage in the United States.

Then, on March 31, 2016, a federal district court overturned adoption ban on same-sex couples in Mississipi.

Finally in June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court overturned a decision of the Arkansas Supreme Court and ordered all states to treat same-sex couples equally with opposite-sex couples regarding the issuance of birth certificates.

Thanks to these court decisions, adoption by same-sex couples has been legalized in all 50 states.

Now, every married couples that meet the state requirements can adopt jointly in any state. It is more complicated for unmarried (LGBT or heterosexual) couples because in some states, it is not possible to adopt jointly without being married. In order to have the same rights as parents, it is necessary to complete a second-parent adoption.

However, second-parents adoption is only available in these states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Colombia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

Even if second-parents adoption is not allowed in your state, it is always possible to provide a degree of legal security through wills or guardianship agreements.

The requirements to adopt depends on every States laws. If you want to learn more about these, you can find them in this post: Domestic Adoption in U.S: – What Are the Requirements & Process.


In contrast to domestic adoption, same-sex couples who want to initiate an intercountry adoption procedure have a much more complicated procedure, as very few countries recognize adoption by same-sex couples.

Here is a list of countries where intercountry adoption by gay couples is possible:

  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Mexico (only in some States: Mexico City, Coahuila, Campeche, Colima, Michoacán, Morelos, Veracruz, Baja California, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Puebla and Querétaro)
  • Portugal

There are many other countries that allow gay adoption, especially in Europe, America and Australia.

Each country has its own requirements for adopting parents. So, it is necessary to find them and be sure that you meet them.

If you want to have more information about intercountry adoption by U.S. citizen, we recommend you to read the following post: International Adoption in the U.S. – How Does It Works?

Debate about Gay Adoption

There is still a lot of debate and opposing views on gay adoption today. Whereas some defend it as a right of homosexual couples, others argue that children should have a paternal and maternal referent.

However, it should be noted that the main objective of adoption is the best interests of the child. The main concern of the State is the welfare of children, so it is considered that it is better for them to grow up in a family rather than being abandoned in a children's home.


Below, we will comment on the arguments supporting same-sex couples adoption, which are based on many psychosocial studies of different family models:

  • An adopted child is a child desired by its parents, so it is also ensured that there is economic stability in the family.
  • An adopted child is a less homeless child, as many of the adopted children are in a children's home and without a family to care for them.
  • Gay families generally promote values of equality, respect and inclusion, thus contributing to the eradication of homophobia, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination.
  • There is no scientific evidence that children raised by homosexuals follow the same sexual orientation as their parents.
  • Gay parents become more involved in their children's education, are more motivated and committed to their duties as parents, which helps to reduce the rate of school failure.


Despite what has been said in the previous section, some people still question whether homosexual parents are the right reference for their children.

Among their arguments against homoparental adoption, we point out the following:

  • The children of homosexual couples lack a father or mother model, which could affect their psychological development.
  • Homosexual couples' homes are more unstable because there were more divorces and separations than heterosexual couples, which does not guarantee the stability necessary to raise a child.
  • The children of homosexual couples experience relationship problems because they may feel insecure and shy about talking about their family.
  • Homosexual couples may experience more psychological and drug addiction problems, which contributes to the increased stress of their children.
  • Children of homosexual couples are at greater risk of bullying.

FAQs from users

Can a gay couple adopt even if they're not married?

By Zaira Salvador (embryologist).

Yes, but it depends on each country's legislation. Currently, only 28 countries authorize joint same-sex adoption throughout their territory. Therefore, it is necessary to consult the requirements of each State to see if marriage is an indispensable condition for adoption.

The countries most commonly used for intercountry gay adoption (Colombia, Brazil and Mexico) do not include marriage as a requirement for adoption.

Do children adopted by gay couples suffer from psychological disorders?

By Natalia Álvarez (project manager).

There is no reason why: children adopted by same-sex parents are just as emotionally and psychologically healthy as any child raised by heterosexual parents.

Several studies have shown that children who have grown up in a gay family environment are more open and have fewer prejudices within society regarding the segmentation of sexual roles. Having and raising a child is a process that is based on love and the desire to care for the child first.

We make a great effort to provide you with the highest quality information.

🙏 Please share this article if you liked it. 💜💜 You help us continue!


Adoption Laws State by State: [here]

About Intercountry Adoption on the website of US Department - Bureau of Consular Affairs

National Cental for Lesbian Rights about laws by states: [here]

About Gay Adoption Laws: [here]

About Foster and Adoption Laws: [here]

Perrin EC, Siegel BS; Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Promoting the well-being of children whose parents are gay or lesbian. Pediatrics. 2013 Apr;131(4):e1374-83.

FAQs from users: 'Can a gay couple adopt even if they're not married? ' and 'Do children adopted by gay couples suffer from psychological disorders?'.

Read more