Same-sex couples have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples under the law. On paper, this is certainly true, but there are some facts that make certain issues surrounding same-sex marriage unique. This is particularly the case when dealing with children and adoption.

The most unique aspect of gay and lesbian adoption is the fact that the child of a same-sex couple will usually only have DNA from one of the parents. For example, a female couple might find a male sperm donor and one of the women will carry the child. A male couple might find a woman who is willing to serve as a surrogate and egg donor. In both of these cases, one part of the couple will not have contributed any DNA to their child.

Stepparent and second parent adoption by a same-sex partner

Once the child is born, the nonbiological parent will usually obtain full parental rights through the stepparent or second parent adoption process. But there have been cases in which the sperm donor or surrogate mother objects and asks to be named as coparent. This can create legal complications, so it’s important that same-sex parents cover all of their bases to prevent legal conflicts like this from occurring.

Seek advice from an LGBT parenting group

Same-sex couples who want to have children can tap into an important support network by reaching out to a local LGBT parenting group. A quick internet search will reveal a lot of resources like this to help woud-be same-sex parents make sure that they are fully prepared from a legal and emotional perspective for the joys of parenting. A great place to start is the Queer Resources Directory.

What if I adopted my partner?

As an interesting side-note, following the legalization of same-sex marriage, there were some same-sex couples who couldn’t get married because one of the partners had adopted his or her adult partner as an estate-planning strategy. Fortunately, ever since a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling in December 2016, these couples are able to get married.

Understand Pennsylvania law as it applies to gay adoption

Before you move forward with a same-sex adoption, make sure you fully understand your legal rights and options — and your parental rights as a same-sex parent. By understanding the law, you will avoid the potential for legal problems later.

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