While there’s no doubt that the end result is worthwhile, it’s equally indisputable that the adoption process can be a grueling one. The costs add up quickly, legal procedures can be confusing and take time, and each successive step can quickly feel like yet another roadblock. As if this weren’t a difficult enough journey, it’s made all the more so for LGBTQ couples, who face additional hurdles and, in many places, outright prejudice throughout the adoption process.
Anyone who identifies as part of the LGBTQIA+ community—that is, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and other orientations besides heterosexual or cisgender—can be an excellent parent, should they choose to become one. Given the opportunity, the same is true of an LGBT couple. Meeting an LGBT adoptive parent and their spouse or co-parent can come as a surprise. To some people, it may seem so unconventional as to be utterly jarring. That said, this bias, conscious or otherwise, should not keep LGBTQ individuals or couples from building a family.
1. Know your rights.
As an LGBT couple—or, for that matter, any prospective adopters—talking to an attorney and heeding their legal advice can be a pivotal step to navigating the intricacies of adoption. An experienced lawyer, particularly one focused on family law, will understand the ins and outs of adoption in a legal sense. Many will even have years of experience serving the LGBTQ community in cases related to custody, child support, or adoption.
As Louisiana child custody attorney Betsy A. Fisher explains, “We understand how important it is for you to maintain that special relationship you have with your child.” That is equally as valid, if not more so, for non-biological parents, LGBT or otherwise. By consulting a family law attorney, you can handle not only the initial adoption process but any concerns over child custody, second-parent adoption (if required), and other family law needs that might arise.
2. Prepare yourselves.
As you and your partner make your way through the adoption process, it‘s essential to prepare yourselves and your relationship for everything involved in it. On the one hand, the formalities and waiting periods associated with adoption can be emotionally complex. Knowing what feelings might arise ahead of time can help you be ready to combat them with the best tools at your disposal, whether that’s mental health treatment or stress-reduction techniques, like meditation.
On the other hand, your relationship may face emotional stress, too. Same-sex couples or otherwise, a lot of changes when you bring a child into your family. By recognizing this, you can maintain a loving, intimate relationship through parenthood. Of course, it‘s even more crucial to bring a child into a safe space, demonstrating a happy, healthy relationship. If you and your partner struggle with stressors from the adoption process or other relationship issues, consider working through LGBT couple counseling before the process goes further. It’s for the best interest of your child and, just as importantly, for the two of you.
3. Remember what’s most important.
The most crucial part of this process is that your child is welcomed into a happy family in a safe place. Each frustration that arises is, for the most part, aimed at what’s in the best interest of the child, even it seems like an unnecessary obstacle between you and the family you’re dreaming of. Keep that thought—prioritizing your future child’s needs—in mind as you navigate the adoption process, and each snag can seem a little more manageable.
Even as the general acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community grows, individuals and couples with a sexual or gender identity that’s anything besides cishet still face many barriers that others will not. The adoption process is just one example of such a situation. But, with the right legal advice, emotional effort, and understanding of the process, adoption can be one of the most fulfilling experiences you embrace as a couple.