Building Your LBGTQ+ Family: Considering Options

sunset-gc351ff95b_1920Are you an LGBTQ+ person or couple considering ways to grow your family?

Family is about more than just biology – it’s about love. Luckily, the landscape for LGBT family planning has never been better. When you’re sure that you’re ready for a new addition to your family, there are many different options to choose from.

Let’s look at a few of them now:

LGBTQ+ Adoption

In today’s America, adoption truly is for everyone.

Mississippi was the final state to end its laws against LGBTQ+ adoption, when they were ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2016. In combination with the federal marriage equality ruling of 2015, this paved the path for fair treatment of LGBTQ+ parents in adoption.

From coast to coast, adoption for LGBTQ+ families follow the same rules, laws, and processes as adoptions for any other family dynamic. You do not need to worry about being excluded from state-sponsored adoption readiness programs or benefits that may help you on your way to welcoming your new family member.

Foster parents may also sometimes permanently adopt a child or children under their care.

Some private adoption agencies, especially those with a religious affiliation, may be less than helpful when it comes to LGBTQ+ adoption as they are permitted to discriminate against LGBTQ+ persons. State laws vary as to whether they can outright deny applicants so consult with us before reaching out to agencies. Our firm will advise you how to avoid these specific agencies and ensure your adoption proceeds smoothly as there are hundreds of adoption agencies that do not discriminate against anyone and will be glad to support you.

When exploring adoption, prospective LGBTQ+ parents should work with a trusted adoption attorney. Your attorney will represent your interests throughout the process. That includes putting you in touch with the right resources in your local area and ensuring all necessary court filings are made.

LGBTQ+ Step Parent Adoption

In the case of an LGBTQ+ couple where one parent has children from a previous relationship, a second parent adoption may be able to be pursued. If the child has two legally recognized parents, the other

parent must either yield parental rights or lose parental rights at the discretion of the court although in some cases a three-parent adoption may be possible.

LGBTQ second parent adoption follows many of the norms and processes of other adoptions. Because some additional filings might be necessary in the first phase, it’s crucial to reach out to an adoption attorney as soon as you know you’re thinking about this option.

LGBTQ Assisted Pregnancy

There’s a wide range of assisted pregnancy options available depending on the specific details of your situation and the concerns you have. Lesbian couples may pursue artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization using sperm from a sperm bank or they may select a donor who provides sperm through a mutual agreement.

Gay couples may employ a gestational surrogate who will carry a child to pregnancy on their behalf. This also often entails an in-vitro fertilization procedure using sperm from one of the prospective fathers. Working with a surrogate means the couple is responsible for all of the pregnancy-related medical expenses. Surrogate pregnancy has been legal in most states for many years. There are clear processes involved to confer legal parenthood of the child on the prospective parents. A qualified attorney should prepare a surrogacy contract that spells out whether the surrogate retains visitation or other rights.

Jennifer Fairfax has helped LGBTQ+ couples and individuals across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. build their families in the right way for them. To learn more, contact us.

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“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax

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