Same-sex rights and adoption: an overview

Many strides have been made lately in terms of LGBT rights, most prominently the Obergefell v. Hodges decision which federally allowed same-sex marriage, but they are still under threat.

Like marriage, adoption for LGBT couples has a complicated legal history too. For a long time, like other rights denied to LGBT people, adoption was not permitted. That has changed in some parts of the country, but not in that many places.

Just 16 states and the District of Columbia permit LGBT people or couples to petition for the adoption of a child.

At present, because there is no federal legislation covering the matter of LGBT adoption, each state is able to set its own rules. This means that some states might explicitly restrict it, while others can allow it in full or allow it in certain situations.

For example, adoption and foster care agencies in some states can outright refuse to place a child with LGBT parents, such as in Michigan, or there could be exemptions against LGBT parents from adoption and foster care agencies, like in Virginia.

Generally, often, only the biological parent of a child can adopt the child, or one individual, but not an LGBT couple together.

This means that oftentimes, for LGBT couples, one of the parents is legally a parent—either through adoption or biologically—and the couple leaves it at that because they have no legal recourse to do anything about it.

Arizona is, fortunately, one of the states that allows for same-sex adoption. This post explains what is allowed in Arizona for LGBT individuals and couples. Here at Stuart & Blackwell, we are here to help in a variety of situations and for couples of all kinds.

Same-sex adoption is permitted in Arizona

While many state legislatures are threatening the rights of LGBT individuals at the present—the right to adoption being one of them—Arizona is standing firm. Right now, LGBT couples can adopt in Arizona. Arizona allows for same-sex adoption in a few ways.

First, one distinction that could come up within states that do allow some kind of LGBT adoption is whether they permit LGBT individuals to adopt versus LGBT couples. Arizona allows both single LGBT individuals to petition to adopt and it also allows couples, which makes it different from states that do not allow any kind of LGBT adoption or just individual adoption. So, in Arizona, LGBT couples can petition for adoption.

Second, there is also the situation where one individual wants to adopt their partner’s child, which is allowed in Arizona (no explicit prohibition on this).

This is called second-parent adoption. It is a way for one parent to adopt the biological child of the other parent, or a child another parent already adopted and they want to raise together.

The main limitation on adoption in this fashion is not on the sex of the parents, but that the parents must be married.

In sum, LGBT couples can enjoy the ability to petition for adoption in Arizona. Indeed, the Arizona legislature is considering a nondiscrimination bill, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation related to many basic rights.

What is considered in adoption?

Like in any situation, when an LGBT couple looks to adopt, factors will include:

  • marital status
  • where the child’s siblings have been placed
  • relationships between the child and adoptive family
  • the new family’s ability to meet the child’s needs and support the child financially

Further, there are adoption expenses that can be financially burdensome for couples looking to adopt, but nonprofits and GoFundMe can be two places couples can look for assistance in this.

What can Stuart & Blackwell do for you?

At Stuart & Blackwell, we believe strong, caring families come in a variety of shapes and sizes. As described above, LGBT families can adopt in Arizona. We want to be there for these—and all—families looking to add a child to their growing family and to provide the legal support and know-how that comes with extensive family law experience right here in Arizona.

While adoption can be complex, expensive, and challenging, we want to be there every step of the way, from the initial consultation discussing options to the arrival of your adopted child into your home.

At Stuart & Blackwell, we take care of the legal side of things, so you can take care of all of the other, more important parts of adoption and getting prepared to care for your child. Contact us at (480) 420 2900 today for your free consultation.