Gay adoption in America

My journalism school classmate Clay Wirestone has a fantastic series at the Concord Monitor, describing the stories and struggles of gay and lesbian parents as they adopt and raise children. It starts with the story of his own adoption, with his husband Max, of their now 2-year-old son Baxter. Other entries in the series examine… READ THE REST

their now 2-year-old son Baxter

The cute: it burns.


I would simply like to chime in as an adult adoptee. The issue is not whether gay parents are fit or not. The issue is how those who are either marginalized or who see themselves as progressive can avail themselves of a practice and an industry that is, in its exploitation of social inequality, a great violence. Adoption is a mythologized and morally cleansed practice of dispossession and displacement. It is a regressive means of family creation that has its roots in indentured servitude. This is the discussion that needs to take place. Because when Baxter grows up, his issues are going to be greater than dealing with “two daddies”. Forgotten here are his needs, but also those of his mother, family, and community. This is the dilemma of adoptees today: We are “burningly cute” until we grow up, speak out, and resist the system that delivered us. This need change.


What a remarkably shitty way to think about it. You might want to see a shrink. I understand that being given up for adoption, or being adopted out via termination of parental rights can be an emotionally injurious experience and can leave a number of questions lingering and unanswered about why what happened happened, but mis-characterizing current US adoption law and practice as purposefully dispossessing birth parents and displacing kids solely for the good of people that want a family and can’t, biologically, create one demonstrates that you are clearly unable to evaluate the practice fairly or with concern for anyone but yourself.

As someone that work in adoption, I primarily deal with adoptive couples that are, for one reason or another, unable to have their own biological children or are able to but want to give a home to a child that might not otherwise have a stable environment. This happens most often with a mother that wants to give a child up for adoption and a father that consents to the adoption either explicitly or implicitly (usually through abandoning the mother during pregnancy or after birth. The period of abandonment sufficient to give implied consent in my state is six months and, honestly, if you knock a girl up and abandon her for six months then you should have your right to object waived for you forcibly.) The cases we see are most often young, single women who have an unintended pregnancy, are not comfortable terminating that pregnancy (in my state it’s typically because of religious brainwashing.) and who are unable to pay the medical bills associated with the pregnancy and birth, nor would they be able to pay for proper care, medical and otherwise, for the child after birth.

We do complete some DHR adoptions, which are different often in terms of the socioeconomic level of the adoptive parents, the typical sociioeconomic levle of the birth parent(s), and in that the child(ren) have been removed from the care of the natural parent(s) by the state whereupon the parental rights are terminated. Removing a child from the care of the natural parent and terminating their parental rights is no small matter, there are multiple levels of potential appeal, and the strong presumption that the best place for a child to be is with their natural family must be overcome. It takes quite a bit and, generally speaking, a terrible, unhealthy, and unstable environment in order to remove a child from a home. It’s not a happy situation for anyone, but it is done for the best interests of the child.

If you’re talking about the pre-ICWA removal of indian children to non-indian homes, sure, there’s plenty of reason to be bitter and that is a different matter entirely (and one that spawned a federal act giving the tribe(s) first option on adopting a child of indian descent, but railing against a system that has formed many happy families is… limited in scope and you’ve provided no actual support for your position other than your generally negative feelings towards the practice and the implication that indentured servitude taints all adoptions today because of their roots.

Now, the issue pertaining to the article is that, in my state, there is a strong presumption, formed by case law, that being placed with homosexual parent is not in the best interest of the child (which is the standard used in child custody cases, so if you have a child from a marriage, then terminate that marriage and one of the former couple is homosexual, that person is NOT getting custody of the child.) and same sex couples are not recognized in my state. Our adoption statute requires that there be an adoptive married couple, who have been married at least one year. Since there is no state recognition of marriage for same sex couples here, they cannot adopt.

While states should have some rights, the right to discriminate should not be one of them and I look forward to the day that homosexuals are classified as a group that has been historically discriminated against sufficiently to invoke strict scrutiny of any laws treating them differently.


In this state, gay adoption isn’t specifically forbidden. However, if a couple is intending to adopt together, since the state doesn’t recognize gay marriage, a couple adopting must be a man and a woman. However, single-person adoptions are allowed, and this is where it gets tricky…

Single women adopting has long been a pretty common thing. And, so long as it isn’t in-your-face obvious that she’s with a same-sex partner, the agency tries to be as…oblivious…as possible. They’re in the business of finding good homes for babies, after all.

They don’t touch single men wanting to adopt. It’s not a moral thing for the agency, though. It’s just that a single man adopting would, sadly, draw a lot of attention to the agency from interested parties who pay close attention to these things. ‘Who might that be’ you ask?

Agencies in the state are under regular pressure from christian groups to not accept gays as adoptive parents (as well as at least pay lip-service to the right-to-life agenda) A considerably large percentage of adoptive couples are pretty devout Christians who would absolutely heed advice from these groups to not do business with any agency that is found to knowingly take on a gay adoption. This would be the kiss of death for any agency so targeted.

It’s a sad state of affairs.

Suggesting I see a “shrink” is a filthy thing to say, and you owe me an apology.

But I don’t expect more from those with a literally vested interest in adoption as an industry.

To claim there is a “right” to children is twisted in and of itself. To compound and conflate this with discriminatory practices against those who should know better because of their own marginalization within society is to try and hide your cash cow with the flimsiest arguments.

Because this “right” to children is not extended to those who most need protection from the Child Catchers and the Adoption Hyenas.

And this is based on political and economic factors that 1) keep you in business and 2) make of gay couples a new consumer elite. The problem is, children are not consumables.

The irony is that what I am saying is not me speaking alone, but a new movement looking to at least reform if not abolish adoption. A minimum of research will prove this. And I know the days of peddling and trafficking children are soon to be done with.

So you might want to look for another job. See you at the shrink’s office.

Actually, the U.S. adoption industry is more corrupt than that, even. Many of the laws were specifically set up to hide fraudulent practices (read “The Baby Thief: The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who Corrupted Adoption” by Barbara Bisantz Raymond, for example). Some states’ laws are egregious to this day: Utah, for example, is a favorite place for adoption brokers to send pregnant women in the last month or so of pregnancy, as a way to effect the relinquishment the baby without the father’s signature (and no recourse possible).

Here’s a quick, simple example of how the issues in gay adoption are not only about gay rights…

One of the “rights” gay adoptive parents are asking for is to have both parents’ names put on the birth certificate. This is because if/when a child is adopted (even by a step-parent) into the home of a heterosexual couple, the law allows for the birth certificate to be completely re-written. (If an adoption never happens, or is cancelled, the original birth certificate goes back to being the vital record on file.)

Think about that for a moment. Vital records are essential government records. They are supposed to be inviolate. You can’t tell the coroner you don’t want Grandma’s death certificate to show she died of cirrhosis in Reno, so please put “died of a heart attack at home in Peoria” instead. You certainly can’t go back a year later and have it re-written. You can’t alter the names of her parents (yes, that’s on death certificates, no matter the age of death) or next of kin just because you want to. But if a child is adopted, their birth certificate is altered entirely. Parents’ names and occupations, location of birth (including state), whether it was a first, second, third (etc.) birth…it’s all false information. That’s not supposed to happen with vital records…in fact, it’s usually considered a crime.

But there ARE legal documents kept by the government which are allowed to have these sorts of changes, and in fact it’s required to make these changes: titles of ownership. If a car changes hands, or a house, changing the documentation on the government records is exactly the right and legal thing to do.

So ask yourself: whose rights are being trampled here? The gay adoptive parents, for not being able to get their names on the title of ownership just like other adoptive parents do?

People who are denied basic human and civil rights need to work together…justice for ALL.

This is the second time that you’ve made broad assertions supported only by hints at anecdotal evidence. I have no reason to go out of my way to prove your argument to myself, that’s your job, and, in the absence of you doing it, I will continue to think that I am correct.

I said you needed to see a shrink because your angry ranting might be indicative of anger issues, and a shrink might be able to help you with those.

Unless you start actually laying out an argument and support it with facts, I’m just going to tell you you need to see a shrink again.

The birth certificate held at vital records is changed because adoptions are a private matter and the court files are sealed. Keeping two birth certificates in publicly accessible records would go completely against the privacy afforded adoption, potentially create confusion, and be an absolute nightmare when attempting to verify who you were later in life. My firm has dealt with a number of cases where adoptees who reached the age of majority were attempting to travel or obtain a passport and would up being held temporarily for fraud or on suspicion of being a terrorist trying to enter or leave the US with false documents because, when the adoption was performed, things were not done properly. In addition to that, the birth certificate does not have to be changed. It is changed once the final decree of adoption is issued, sent to the department of vital statistics for the state, and the adoptive parents apply for a new and updated birth certificate.

Your outrage at the fact that birth certificates are updated to reflect that, for all legal purposes, the adoptive couple are now as if the child had been born naturally to them is…confusing. You argument seems to be that “vital records should not be changed, for some reason I have not really specified aside from asserting that they are inviolate,a dn I am mad that they are being changed.” You then go on to point out that other important records are frequently changed. Ummmm, indeed they are. Get over it. The cause of death or anything else can be changed on a death certificate by order of the court or due to a scrivener’s error. You act like this shit’s written in stone and it’s not, but you can’t go changing it just because you feel like it.

I’m not asserting that adoption is corruption free, hell, there are a couple of attorneys in town that are more than a little sketchy, but claiming that adoption is overrun with baby thieves aided by politicians that are scheming to deprive natural parents of their children is vastly overstating the case and ignoring all the safeguards in effect to prevent this, particularly in interstate adoptions.


You are getting two different posters mixed up in your responses. You’re also making unsubstantiated assumptions about the laws regarding vital records and my emotional state. I can tell it’s very important to you to be right about how wonderful your industry is. I’m out.

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I confess… I clicked through the pictures a few times before I got around to reading the article itself. And then I went back to the photos.

What a sweet, sweet family.

What a cutie! It’s amazing how a little bitty human being can render an adult into a grinning goof ready to wait on them hand and foot. Good for the Dads and little Baxter. Adoption is a fine gift for all involved whether the kids are new born or a bit shop worn from life. Thanks for the story.

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Adoption brokers ≠ Licensed adoption agencies. Please don’t conflate the two, and don’t make statements that imply that brokers represent the adoption field. They don’t. Adoption brokers are generally seen as a blight on the field by licensed agencies, as most states’ laws and regulations have not caught-up with the existence of brokers, allowing them to operate in a legal vacuum, often to questionable and negative ends.

It’s also misleading to make it seem that adoption is automatically a closed, sealed business. This hasn’t been the case for a good long time, thanks to the growth and popularity of open adoption, which is fast becoming the norm throughout the country, when dealing with legitimate, licensed adoption agencies.

Legally, adoption is a closed, sealed action. In my state, the file is sealed and, in the event the final adoption decree is lost or destroyed, the lawyer for the adoptive couple has to petition the court tore-open the file and issue a new one. Once the adoptee reaches the age of majority, the adoptee can also access the file, but not before.

Whether the adoption is open or closed between the birth parents and the adoptive couple is a totally different matter.

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