Can a single homo adopt a baby?
April 23, 2007 9:30 PM   Subscribe

Can a male homo without a partner ever hope to adopt a baby in California or New York?

Does anyone have experience or first-hand knowledge of how difficult it is for a gay man to adopt a child and what the process is like? Since I may or may not find a partner (look up my last MeFi question for specifics), I'm wondering if it's a long shot to get a baby as a single (gay) man. I'm an elementary school teacher living in northern California, but I plan to move to New York at some point. What do adoption agencies look for? Must I have a lot of good friends to vouch for my sanity and trustworthiness? I have no history of mental illness and I live a healthy lifestyle. I won't have a parent living near me to take care of the child when I'm at work. What can I do, within reason, to improve my chances?

I read Dan Savage's book on adoption, but he wasn't single at the time of the adoption and they adopted in Oregon, where adoption laws are very liberal.

Any advice from Californians or New Yorkers would be especially valuable, though all comments are welcome.

If the U.S. won't give me one, I guess I can pull a Angelina/Madonna and wrangle one from an unsuspecting AIDS patient in an underdeveloped country. That, however, would require more effort--and money--than I'm willing to put forth.
posted by DarwinianDan to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't see why your homosexuality is at all a factor. Isn't this just a case of single parent adoption?
posted by phrontist at 9:36 PM on April 23, 2007

Would that that were true, phrontist.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:45 PM on April 23, 2007

A guy I know (a gay guy) has just leapt the last hurdle to becoming a foster parent. He's single. (This is the San Francisco area.) His goal is eventually to adopt. He found a good agency to work with, and doesn't seem to have hit any walls along the way. Both California and New York have adoption agencies that cater to the gay community.
posted by rtha at 9:55 PM on April 23, 2007

BitterOldPunk: How will they know he's gay?
posted by phrontist at 10:21 PM on April 23, 2007

Best answer: It's not the gay part that's hard -- it's the baby part. There aren't many babies who are eligible for adoption (parental rights terminated) -- most are in foster care first.

Pretty much any of the Northern California foster-adoption agencies welcome gay and single parent families. See A Better Way and Family Builders by Adoption.

I'm a single foster parent in San Francisco licensed by the City & County. A huge proportion of the foster parents here are gay and lesbian.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:35 PM on April 23, 2007

phrontist: because they ask things like this when you go through the adoption process. It's long and complicated and gay people can't adopt at all in many US states. Please take futher Metaquestions to MetaTalk if you can't help the OP out with his question.
posted by jessamyn at 10:35 PM on April 23, 2007

Have you contacted adoption agencies and asked them? Adoption is not an easy thing, and I imagine being single is going to make it even harder. But, call, set up an appointment and ask.
posted by edgeways at 10:41 PM on April 23, 2007

Best answer: I don't know whether you're thinking of adopting from foster care, or privately. If privately, keep in mind that you don't have to adopt in the state where you live (though if there is any state where this would be easier than others for a gay man, you'd figure it would be California). The agency we're working with works with gay men and lesbians as well as het people, and with single men and women as well as couples. It's not common, but I know of one specific case where they placed a baby with a single man. The wait can be longer for non-traditional people because (so they tell me) birthmothers usually prefer married opposite-sex couples, so the less-traditional often have to wait until a birthmother surrenders her parental rights, leaving it up to the agency to choose a family for the baby.

We are adopting interstate, in part because we liked this agency (we didn't want to work with any agency that wouldn't accept queer people, which limited our choices). But it also makes a difference in what laws apply to you. For instance, we live in Michigan, which has a fairly lengthy revocation period, but our adoption will be governed by the laws of Illinois, where our agency is. In Illinois, once the birthparents surrender rights, it is not revocable. We like that because it protects us from the horror of bringing a baby home and having it taken away again when the birthmom changes her mind.

All of that was by way of saying that you have a lot of choice in the matter, and can choose an agency to work with based on whether they're willing to work with you.

You will have a few friends vouch for your sanity and whatnot. I think we had three references for our homestudy. You'll probably have to get something from your doctor. How invasive this is depends on the agency. One we looked at wanted to see medical records; the one we ended up working with only asked for a letter from the doctor saying we had no medical conditions that would prevent us from parenting a child, with no specifics at all.

Just to give you one example, we are working with this agency, in their program for African-American newborns.

Good luck. There is certainly some way for you to adopt. You just have to find your way and figure out whether you can put up with the costs, the waiting, the annoying social workers, the uncertainty, the waiting, and the more waiting.
posted by not that girl at 10:59 PM on April 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This topic came up at my glb adoptive parents group. The consensus of foster parents, adoptive parents, and a former social worker is that there is an unstated but strongly-held heirarchy of preferences. Married hetero couples are at the top. Single males are at the bottom. The exact order of the other demographics between varies slightly depending on agency and individual social worker, but no one has yet encountered the magic combination of state law + agency + social worker that would rank a single man above any other class of applicant. Even though study after study has shown that "gay male = pedophile" is completely untrue, it's a fear that's still deeply entrenched. But like I said, every agency and every one of its social workers has their own mindset. It's key to shop around for someone who doesn't have a preconception of who you are. If you feel the worker assigned to you is not that person, you CAN and should request someone else.

You'll have much better chances going through the public fost-adopt system where state law says that singles and gays are welcome, than through the private routes (independent agencies, lawyers, facilitators) where it's easier to discriminate. There are far more foster children waiting for homes than there are people willing to take them, so even though you may be a "last choice" you'll find your child. Being open to adopting an African American or Latino child, an older (than 3 years old) child, a boy, a sibling group, or special needs child GREATLY shortens your wait. Everyone else demands to adopt perfect white baby girls... International adoption is probably a lost cause; AFAIK no country is yet willing to place with a single, openly gay foreign male. At a minimum you'd have to be scrupulously closeted; most likely the home country still wouldn't approve you. Adoptions in generally is just not a progressive field, and international adoption is its least progressive sector.

Fost-adopt is a good choice point for you because of the antidiscrimination laws governing adoptions through that system. You need income enough to support yourself, 3 or 4 references who aren't related to you, medical clearance, fingerprints and background check, CPR and first aid certificates, and typically there's some kind of course/counseling requirement and of course the part that most people worry over: the homestudy. There's also a shitload of paperwork to wade through. But they walk you through everything. I've had several friends go through it before me. Licensing can take as little as 3-4 months if you're diligent. I've seen several take their child home within a couple months after finishing the license.

So don't be discouraged. If you're serious, go for it. You'd be staggered by how many hundreds of thousands of children are waiting in this state alone.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:45 AM on April 24, 2007 [3 favorites]

...where state law says that singles and gays are welcome... California's law says that. Most don't.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:59 AM on April 24, 2007

nakedcodemonkey's advice is the best so far. You would have no hope in any of the "Red" states in the U.S., but in California and NY you would have a reasonable chance. You will have to shop around for the proper agency (approximately half of all adoption agencies will decline you as a client, maybe another quarter will take you but they won't like you) and for the proper social worker.

If you're willing to take an older child (older than 1 year), a child that has been in foster care, a special needs child, or a minority child, your odds will improve. If you're seeking a newborn Caucasian child, you may be in for a long wait. International adoption, as noted, is closed to you - China used to do some placements with single adults (and people lied to China about their homosexuality), but China is now banning single adoptions entirely.
posted by jellicle at 5:49 AM on April 24, 2007

Family Pride and the HRC Parenting Pages might offer some further guidance, too. I know you're looking for firsthand experience, but the HRC pages were helpful when I wrote a paper recently on issues surrounding gay parents.
posted by occhiblu at 9:37 AM on April 24, 2007

(The HRC has a specific page on adoption, too.)
posted by occhiblu at 9:38 AM on April 24, 2007

Your chances are good in California. I can't speak for New York. Check out the website for Adams & Romer in San Francisco (the firm we used for our adoption), to get an idea of the range of people looking to adopt and doing so successfully. Good luck.
posted by firstdrop at 9:47 AM on April 24, 2007

What Nakedcodemonkey said. Luckily, NY and CA are full of more liberal agencies, so you'll have an easier time finding a program that's a good match for you. Here's a good place to start looking: The Adoption Guide. (I work for them.)
posted by sonofslim at 10:12 AM on April 24, 2007

That HRC page leads to a list of California glb-friendly agencies. Cross ref that against state adoptions' licensing list (PDF) to narrow it down to those licensed to serve your county. If that leaves you with multiple choices, I'd start with whichever one is licensed to serve the most countie. One, because that's a larger pool of children they're working to place. Two, because hopefully at a large multi-county agency you won't have to be their first single male applicant.

Also here's a good FAQ from the state about their process and the alternatives, with much more info located here

In your other post you sounded kind of young. If you're under 30, bring up your age in the inquiry call. Some programs require older parents. Other just need you to be X number of years (10?) older than the child.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:18 AM on April 24, 2007

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