The LGBT Health & Development Program

Family Blog—The Path to Parenthood for the LGBTQ Community

Posted on August 28th, 2015 by IMPACT in Families Blog, Featured. No Comments

Written by David Drustrup, IMPACT intern.

family of two dads and two kids at park

Photo credit: Michael Verhoef, “365.019 – it’s a family portrait,” January 23, 2011.

LGBTQ Adoptive Parenting

Following the recent Supreme Court ruling in support of marriage equality, where does this leave prospective LGBTQ parents? While recent surveys show that roughly two million lesbian and gay couples are interested in adopting, only 5% have taken concrete steps to pursue adoption [1]. With such a discrepancy between interest and actual adoption among the LGBTQ community, what is stopping prospective LGBTQ parents from adopting? Despite growing lesbian and gay parenthood in recent years. LGBTQ families continue to face disadvantages, both internalized and externalized, when considering adoption [2].


Goldberg highlights the legal and societal prejudices in the history of discrimination against LGBTQ parenthood [2].

  • Three states in the U.S. currently permit state-licensed agencies to refuse services if it conflicts with their religious beliefs, with Michigan having passed legislation into law two months ago.
  • Many agencies or social workers have refused to work with a couple upon learning that they are in a same-sex relationship.

In addition, LGBTQ couples face internalized barriers on their path to parenthood such as “internalized homophobia” [2]. The effect of which can be seen with:

  • One out of three men did not believe that parenthood was possible when they came out.
  • The belief that not having biological children would disappoint their own parents.
  • A socially constructed idea that only heterosexuality is compatible with parenthood, largely associated with the absence of same-sex parental role models.

The Good News

Despite the challenges that persist for LGBTQ families seeking parenthood, society has continued to make vital progress towards promoting equal rights for LGBTQ parents.

  • Antiquated beliefs that children of LGBTQ families were at risk for developmental problems have been debunked.
  • Continued legislative battles are fighting the legality of individual states’ laws banning same-sex couples from jointly adopting, like the recent challenge in Mississippi (the last state with such a ban).
  • The number of agencies willing and excited to work with LGBTQ couples has been consistently growing [2].

While becoming a parent in the LGBTQ community is still harder than for a heterosexual married couple, the obstacles are decreasing with many resources available offering support for those considering parenthood.

Information for Prospective Parents

While parents may not know where to start when considering adoption, The Human Rights Campaign program, All Children – All Families, has provided a list of agencies that have fulfilled their benchmarks for LGBTQ competency when providing adoption placements to LGBTQ families. The Independent Adoption Center is a great example of a nationwide LGBTQ-friendly adoption agency. Other LGBTQ-friendly agencies will have similar attributes:

  • A long history of LGBTQ placements
  • LGBTQ-specific resources
  • Knowledge of laws affecting LGBTQ families

Finally, The Family Equality Council provides an interactive community, information, and resources for LGBTQ families including legal protections, youth empowerment, and more.

Becoming a parent is challenging no matter the sexual orientation or gender identity of the parent. LGBTQ parents have an ever-growing pool of resources at hand to make parenthood a meaningful and achievable experience.

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[1] Gates, G., Badgett, M., Macomber, J., & Chambers, K. (2007). Adoption and foster care by gay and lesbian parents in the United States. Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.

[2] Goldberg, A. (2012). Gay dads: Transitions to adoptive fatherhood (Qualitative studies in psychology). New York, NY: New York University Press.

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