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Homosexuality was found to be very commonly practiced until near medieval times when it was later claimed to be a sinful act against God, and because most of society has been centered around the church and religion over centuries, homosexuality became greatly looked down on and was even highly punishable in many societies. In time, however, as the world began to evolve and change with the rise of new ideas and discoveries, people started moving away from the church and grew more tolerant to non-traditional ways of life. One of these was indeed homosexuality. Although still a foreign and sinful concept in some areas, homosexuality in first world countries has been more and more tolerated in recent years and has even started to become the social norm. With the emerging acceptance of homosexuality came acceptance to others factors involved in homosexual relationships, like marriage and children. Because same sex couples can not naturally have children, many turn to adoption, which happens to be their most difficult challenge legally, physically, and socially. Gay adoption is typically is a longer, more drawn out process, but is slowly starting to normalize in today’s society.
From foster care adoption, to infant adoption, to international adoption, gay couples all have to undergo specific processes depending on the type of adoption and the location where the adoption is taking place. (FindLaw) Despite the type of adoption, however, all processes must be done through an adoption agency, which works with the adoptive parents and birth parents to carry out the adoption legally and responsibly. Adoption agencies match qualities that birth parents are looking for in adoptive parents to adoptive parents that have applied through their agency, and the agency works with both parties to carry out further processes like background checks, homestudies, child visitations, written contracts, legal fees, and court documents. (National Adoption Center) For gay adoptions, however, the legal process can be quite drawn out due to lack of family security with unmarried couples, strained parental rights, and concerns about the child’s upbringing by two same-sex parents.
In traditional domestic adoption, agencies hire social workers to monitor potential adoptive parents and in addition to background checks, social workers review factors such as their living environment, financial stability, and family structure and security. Until June of 2015, gay marriage was not legal in all 50 U.S states, prohibiting some same-sex couples from legally being considered a family unit. (FindLaw) This caused a strain in the adoption process because not only do most birth parents prefer a married couple as the adoptive parents, but unmarried couples are not automatically granted parental status of the child, therefor one partner must adopt the child first, and the other must adopt the child through second-parent adoption. Also, since some U.S states previously did not (and other countries currently do not) recognize gay marriage, parental status was also not recognized for both adoptive parents together, thus limiting the parental rights of one partner. (FindLaw) Another obstacle for gay couples seeking to adopt is the hesitation of birth parents to allow their child to be raised in a homosexual household. Many of the questions that are asked by birth parents include examples like “Will my child grow up to be gay?,” “Will my child be bullied or teased for having gay parents?,” and “Will my child socially and intellectually develop differently?.” (FindLaw) Although these are all reasonable concerns, studies have shown that children adopted by same-sex parents actually do not grow up any different than those adopted by straight couples. According to GayAdoption.org, growing up in a homosexual household cannot make a child gay as most gay children grew up in heterosexual households, these children do not develop any differently socially or intellectually, and potential teasing is greatly reduced due to the growing toleration of gay parents in the United States. Unfortunately, however, these concerns could potentially be the exception preventing birth parents from signing the adoption papers.
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Other than legal obstacles pertaining to what would all be found in paperwork, same-sex couples also endure many issues when actually going through the concrete side of the adoption process. Often times, same-sex couples start their adoption process through conception and birth, making at least one partner the child’s biological birth parent, rather than having a traditional domestic adoption. For lesbian couples, one woman would become pregnant through a male sperm donor, while for gay couples, one partner would use his sperm to impregnate a surrogate mother. It seems simple, but the physical processes are just as, if not more, drawn out than the legal processes.
In a lesbian relationship, for example, couples achieve conception through a process called intrauterine insemination, where a doctor would impact a donated sperm sample into a woman to fertilize her egg. In this case, the partners could choose for one woman’s egg to be fertilized by a sperm donor and she also carry the baby, or they could choose for one woman’s egg to be fertilized and then implanted into her partner’s uterus to carry and deliver the baby. This can be quite difficult for some couples as fertility might be an issue. Many times the partner’s egg that has to be fertilized must go through a series of hormone injections to raise her fertility levels before she is able to get pregnant. (USCFertility) Since one of the women would be carrying the baby herself, the cost of conception and carry is far less expensive than the process would be for male partners. For gay couples, one of the men use their own sperm to fertilize an egg that a surrogate mother carries through the course of the baby’s development. In a process called vitro fertilization, a donor’s eggs are collected and fertilized by the doctor outside of the body and then implanted into a surrogate’s uterus. When choosing a surrogate, gay couples must consider the health of the woman as well as how easily she can conceive, and the obvious factor, her genetics and its contribution to their baby if she is the egg donor. (USCFertility) With the expenses of agency fees, medical fees, carrier fees, and attorney fees, it’s no surprise that surrogacy is extremely expensive. Reports show that surrogacy can cost from $90,000 to over $120,000 in the United States. Thankfully organizations such as Men Having Babies offers financial assisting programs to help gay couples afford surrogacy, including the Gay Parenting Assistance Program that offers cash grants, discounts, and free services gay couples. (GaysWithKids)
As if the legal and physical processes aren’t difficult and long enough to endure, gay couples also face issues with discrimination during the adoption process and after adoption. Although it is becoming more tolerated to be a gay parent, gay adoption still has its misconceptions, especially in areas that are still greatly influenced by religion that disapproves of homosexuality. One of these misconceptions is that gay couples are unfit to be parents, although studies from GayAdoption.org states “On Average, same-sex couples raising adopted children are older, more formally educated, and have more economic resources than other adoptive parents. The average income for same sex couples raising adopted children is 102k versus 82k for opposite sex married couples.” and “On average gay parents tend to be more motivated and committed parents than heterosexual parents because they chose to be parents. Gays and Lesbians rarely become parents by accident, compared to almost 50% accidental pregnancy rate among heterosexuals.” The site even goes on to say that homosexual households often times teach children tolerance and open mindedness, and studies show that these children are less likely to conform to stereotypes and gender roles. (GayAdoption.org)
Through the past few decades, the increase in homosexual tolerance has resulted to an estimated 65k adopted children living with same-sex parents. (GayAdoption.org) Although clearly, same-sex couples have a harder time navigating through the adoption process, the persistence of gay couples and the progression of gay adoption has significantly impacted the American foster care system and has greatly improved the lives of the lives of the children being adopted. With the more resources and support given to gay couples seeking to adopt, more children will have a place to call home and people to call their family.