For nearly a decade same-sex couples in Minnesota have had their marriages legally recognized by state law since Minnesota made its marriage law gender-neutral in 2013. Since then, while same-sex couples have enjoyed many rights that accompany a legal marriage, they face additional hurdles when it comes to starting a family.
While Minnesota may have legally recognized same-sex marriage two years prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, it has yet to come to terms with the nuances in family creation, especially when it comes to establishing parentage. While state lawmakers have looked to stepparent adoption laws to protect a female spouse of a woman who has given birth to the couple’s child, that doesn’t have much application to same-sex male couples looking to start a family or same-sex female couples where neither one is able to carry the child themselves. In these cases, a standard or regular adoption is a common way to grow your family.
Working with a private adoption agency
There are many private adoption agencies that operate in Minnesota and neighboring states that may work with your family. Some of these organizations may have more experience working with same-sex couples. For this reason, it is important that you do your research, read reviews, and request consults with potential agencies to make sure you feel comfortable at the outset with any adoption agency you may choose to work with.
Adopting a child from an international program
While there are many children in Minnesota and neighboring states that are in need of a loving home, many of these children are older or require placement with any existing siblings. Because of this, if you are looking to adopt a newborn/infant, the domestic adoption process may take longer than you expect as it can take up to two to three years.
Some couples may find that international adoption may provide a faster solution for newborn/infant adoption. However, there are additional complexities that surround an international adoption, such as compliance under the Hague Convention. The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (“Convention”) is an agreement signed by many countries, including the United States, to safeguard intercountry adoptions. The Convention applies to all adoptions by U.S. citizens who reside in the United States and children who reside in another country that is a party to the Convention. An adoption under the Convention requires the approval of the Central Authority of both countries. While having a Convention compliant adoption may take longer than a non-compliant adoption because of the dual approval requirements, the Convention provides greater protections to those seeking to adopt. Another important consideration, particularly for LGBTI individuals or same-sex couples, is that while our federal law does not prohibit LGBTI individuals or same-sex couples from adopting, some foreign countries may not permit such an adoption. If you fall into this category and are considering an international adoption it is important to do your research on the specific country you would like to adopt from. The State Department also offers resources for intercountry adoptions by LGBTI/same-sex couples.
Direct adoption arrangements with an expectant mother
Sometimes the easiest way to adopt is to cut out the proverbial middleman. Some couples have had great success using advertisements in newspapers and church bulletins or even on social media to reach pregnant mothers considering placing their children for adoption.
Connecting with a specific expected mother can be an effective way for a same-sex couple to adopt. It can also provide more resources for the child as an open adoption is easy to facilitate when the couple adopting the child know the mother even before the birth. However, it is important to note that Minnesota has specific laws on direct placement adoptions, so even if this is the approach you want to take to potentially save on time and money, there are still a number of steps you much take to ensure this adoption is legal. It is for this reason that many choose to utilize the services of an adoption agency and/or attorney.
Adding a new member to your family can be a challenge, but a successful adoption can be a beautiful way to grow your family and the love you have to share.