Gay adoption: How common is gay adoption and is it legal?


Making the decision to adopt a child is a decision of major importance. The process of becoming an adoptive parent is lengthy and involved. At the same time it is, hopefully, ultimately a rewarding one to go through. LGBTI parents are able to adopt in many countries, although in some countries the legal rights of LGBTI individuals and couples are yet to be secured. In this post, Pink Families looks at what adoption is, how common it is and whether it is legal for LGBTI individuals and couples to adopt.

What is gay adoption?

When you adopt a child you become their legal parent. Adoption is where the child’s biological parent, sometimes referred to as the natural parent, no longer have parental rights for the child.

After adoption, the child no longer has any legal ties with their natural parent(s).

Gay adoption is when a child is adopted by a parent or parents who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

What is the history of adoption?

Adoption practices have been in place around the world for thousands of years. It wasn’t until the twentieth century that these practices became more formal.

In the US, for example, the first adoption law was passed in Massachusetts (US). This was the 1851 adoption of children act. This was the first time in American history that the people involved in finding a placement for a child had to consider what was in the best interests of that child.

Adoption in the US

The first US studies into adoption were conducted and published in the 1920s. But it really wasn’t until two seminal acts were passed in the 70s that adoption started to become better regulated and organized. Since that time support of gay adoption in the US has grown slowly but steadily.

Adoption in the UK

In the UK, adoption became legally recognized in the 1920s. Adoption law was established in the 1976 Adoption Act and the 1989 Children Act. Since that time, millions of children have been adopted in the UK.

In the UK, adoption decisions are usually made by an agency. This is often a local authority. Sometimes an adoption is organized by a voluntary agency. Adoption by same-sex couples became legal in the UK in 2005.

How common is gay adoption?

Adoption is a common option for same-sex households. The number of lesbian and gay adoptive parents have grown substantially in number.

Gay adoption in the US

Census data from the US, for example, has shown that 21% of all same-sex couple households have stepchildren or adopted children in their homes. This is the case for households that involve couples that are married (sometimes referred to as same-sex spousal couples) and those that aren’t married.

Gay adoption in the UK

National statistics from the UK have shown that each year approximately 60 children are adopted by gay couples and another 60 are adopted by lesbian couples.

Is gay adoption legal?

In some countries gay adoption is on the rise and gay adoption is being encouraged. LGBT couples are seen by an increasing number of agencies as being able to provide good, stable and loving environments for children. Even though this is the case, in some countries adoptions laws still prohibit LGBT individuals and couples from adopting. This is even the case in some countries where gay marriage is legal.

Gay adoption in the US

In the US, the majority of states do not legally allow for same-sex couples to adopt. However despite this, in the US adoption by same-sex couples is on the rise.

Gay adoption in the UK

It is legal for LGBT people to adopt in the UK regardless of whether or not they are in a relationship. They can adopt if they are single or in a relationship, for example. In fact, in the UK when it comes to adoption it is illegal to discriminate against people on the grounds of sexual orientation. This means that lesbian, gay and or bisexual potential adoptive parents go through the same process as straight families that are trying to adopt a child into their family.

Gay adoption in Australia

In Australia, same-sex adoption is determined not at a federal level, but at a state or territory level. Same-sex adoption is only legal in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Tasmania and Western Australia. Queensland, the Northern Territory, Victoria and South Australia are yet to legalize same-sex adoption.

Gay adoption in South Australia

Adoption by same-sex couples is legal in South Africa. In 2002 the Constitutional Court of South Africa gave same-sex partners the same adoption rights as married spouses, allowing couples to adopt children jointly and allowing one partner to adopt the other partner’s children. Same-sex marriage also became legal in South Africa in 2006.

In this video Anna-Marie De Vos and her family share their experiences of adoption in South Africa. The video was produced by Underdog Productions.

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