Adopting as an LGBT Parent

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Hi,

    My wife and I are wanting to start the process of her adopting our son.  We are thinking of doing the adoption ourselves without a lawyer, but I (the birth mom) am part Native American.  Our son was conceived via anonymous sperm donor at a clinic, so I think we don't have to do a home visit by a social worker, and it all seems pretty strait forward.  My only concern is the Indian Child Welfare Act ICWA and how this might impact our adoption.  Has anyone else been in a similar situation?  How did you fill out the forms that seem to only pertain to Native parents giving up the rights to their child?  I'm the birth mom, and my son's only legal parent, and am not wanting to give up any of my parental rights.  We're not against having a lawyer, but it's going to be very expensive.  Does anyone have any advice?    

    I found a lot of information online very quickly.  I recommend you first familiarize yourself with the actual laws.

    ICWA only applies if your child is or is eligible to be a member of a recognized tribe.  I can't tell from your post if that applies. I am part Native American but do not qualify to be a tribal member. This is pretty common. So first establish your and your child's tribal identity and membership eligibility to find out if you even need to worry about this. Also, under ICWA, you are also entitled to an attorney if you can't afford one. 

    Either way, I suggest you and your wife discuss custody issues in case of death or divorce. Sadly, sometimes courts, judges, and/or family members don't accord same-sex marriages full respect, and this could result in some unforeseen legal challenges.

    Wishing you luck.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions Related Pages

Second Parent Adoption (non-bio mom adopting kids)

May 2011

Hi folks - We are a 2 mom family with 2 kids (conceived via sperm bank donor) and my wife (the non-bio mom) needs to adopt our kids ASAP to ensure legal recognition of her ''parent'' status because we are moving to another state that doesn't recognize our marriage (and of course because the feds don't recognize her as their parent without the adoption, even though we are both on the birth certificates - sigh).

Anyway, we need advice from those of you who have done this before about what is the cheapest and fastest way to get the second-parent adoption done. It seems like we can just mail in the forms to the county courthouse and then wait for the visit and court date - is it really that simple? How much did your second parent adoption cost you, and how long did it take? Did you use a lawyer or go through an agency when you did yours? Would that make it faster then just DIY? Is it even possible that a judge would *not* approve a second parent adoption for kids who have only ever been raised by these 2 parents (barring something like neglect/abuse, of course)? It is so crazy that we need to spend so much time and $$ for a parent to adopt her own children! Anyway, any help, suggestions, lessons learned, are much- appreciated. need to get legal

Hi there- we have done this twice- it can take some time for the social worker visit etc... i cannot recall exactly the costs- (800-1300$) but they are tax-deductible on your next return at least. We used a wonderful lawyer who handled it all for us- Ora Prochovnick oprochov [at] Good luck! deirdre
Call Emily Doskow ASAP - The process takes between 6 to 9 months because they (the county) must do a home study. Her information is listed below. It is worth every cent and you can deduct the costs of adoption (yes, even second parent adoption) from your taxes via a tax credit rather than deduction. At nearly $4,000 - we got every cent back on federal taxes. Two kids will not be twice the cost - only one home study and one court date. Emily Doskow- Attorney at Law 1010 Grayson Street, Suite 2 Berkeley, California 94710 T: 510-540-8311 F: 510-531-2074 Emily [at] Two Moms and one Absolutely Terrific Daughter
We did this for both our kids. For one I had to, for the other, I had to if I wanted to leave California. I'm not sure if you still need a home visit, but that's the most expensive part of the whole deal. Having a lawyer helps. I didn't want to risk losing my kids in say, Virginia, because I forgot to dot an I or cross a T. But that's me, I'm still kind of afraid of the rest of the country. BTDT
We used a lawyer (Deborah Wald) for two second parent adoptions. She asks you to decide how much you can pay within a range of 2K to 5K. There's some tax credit for adoption - think you can get all the $ back you spend on lawyers fees, court fees, fingerprinting, etc.

It's a lot of paperwork and legwork.. it took about 6mos from birth to adoption for both our kids. I don't think there's any chance of it NOT being approved - the court session is actually kind of sweet.

It's a drag, but it feels good when it's all done! Good luck! anon

Hi there, We JUST went through this process. We were totally nervous about it but found the whole process to be very quick and painless. The county social worker is quick and the courts are slow right now so things are getting scheduled quickly. From our time of filing to the judge granting the adoption (including sending in our forms, getting recommendations, and the social worker home visit) was slightly more than two months. We went through Alameda County on our own. No lawyer. The social worker, Jennifer Ling, was helpful and guided us every step of the way. It's $500 for the county to write their report but you get it all back when you file taxes. Good luck. It's very exciting when it's over. momma
I wanted to chime in when this was originally posted (May 4), but I missed the deadline. Having read the responses, I felt compelled to write a few lines even though a bit late. I was surprised that almost every response advised seeking the help of an attorney in order to complete the second parent adoption. I want to emphasize that this is not necessary. Second parent adoption is very straightforward in California. You simply have to file the proper forms (which are available at the courthouse - I even believe you can download them online at, and agree to a visit by a social worker (this is the worst part - mostly irritating, time consuming, etc).. You will automatically be granted the status of legal parent unless there is some piece of information that is uncovered in the process which would clearly indicate that you are unfit to parent (there would have to be compelling evidence - e.g., prior criminal history (of a specific and very extreme nature), or perhaps serious drug abuse, etc.).

The other thing to keep in mind is that you will need a couple of references (for the social worker). They can be friends or colleagues at work. They will receive a questionnaire asking about your ''character''. This is no big deal, but it can feel burdensome - and also a bit unfair to be subject to this level of scrutiny, but so it goes.. I have done this recently and will soon be doing it a second time. Believe me, you do not need a lawyer to fill out the simple forms and schedule appointments for you. you might throw away a lot of money. Feel free to ask the moderator for my email if you would like to contact me for any more detailed advice. Good luck. mom in a two-mom family

Resources for Lesbian & Gay Adoption


To the person and her partner who are interested in adoption: If you are, indeed, gay, you might try checking out the Gay and Lesbian Families group (not positive about the name) at the downtown Berkelely YMCA. If I were part of a gay couple interested in adopting, I would want to talk to others who had done so successfully, and that seems a likely place to meet folks who have been down the road, so to speak. As a member of a heterosexual couple, I could recommend lawyers, agencies, etc., and will happily do so, but I don't know much about the particular challenges of working the system as a gay couple.

Editor Note: Probably Our Family