By Juliet Werner
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 33 percent
of lesbian couple households and 22 percent gay
couple households reported at least one child
under the age of 18 living at home.
In a state like New York, where gay marriage is
not yet legal, same-sex couples are jumping through
hoops to start a family.
There are many adoption agencies nationwide that
|Chris Goeken and Glenn Magpartay adopted their son Malcolm last year.
from same-sex couples. The Children's Village,
Lutheran Social Services and NY Council on Adoptable
Children are three City agencies that provide
second-parent adoption. Second-parent adoption
enables one to adopt his/her partner's biological
or adopted child without terminating the first
"What a lot of people don't think about is that
while you're waiting for second-parent adoption
to go through you have to have things in place
in order to protect yourself," Heidi Gonzales,
spokeswoman for Adoptions from the Heart, said.
"There's a lag time. When one partner wants to
take child to doctor, they need power of attorney
cause they're not yet the legal guardian."
In researching her new book, "Dreaming the Family,"
University of Iowa Women's Studies and Anthropology
Professor Ellen Lewin discovered many legal costs
associated with second-parent adoption.
"It's workable, but it's a legal expense that
wouldn't be necessary if these couples could marry,"
Lewin said. "Same-sex couples have to make legal
arrangements for all these things that would be
automatic if they were married."
International adoptions are largely out of the
question for same-sex couples and some international
adoption agencies are starting to require their
clients to sign a document stating they're not
gay or lesbian.
"It's being enforced more and more," Gonzalez
said. "Before there was more of a 'don't ask,
don't tell' policy with these agencies."
Adopting domestically comes with its own set of
"Today most domestic adoptions are done open and
in open adoptions it is the birth mother who chooses
the family," Gonzalez explained. "And so the hurdle
with gay and lesbian families is getting birth
parents to choose their families over a heterosexual
couple. It happens. We've placed a lot of children,
but it is definitely a bigger hurdle than a heterosexual
couple would have."
Parents In The Wings
The Human Rights Campaign is a national organization
that fights for the rights of lesbian, gay and
transgendered people. Last December, HRC launched
the "All Children - All Families" campaign in
order to promote equal opportunity for gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgender foster and adoptive parents.
to data from the Williams Institute, GLBT families
are already raising about 65,500 adopted children
and 14,000 foster children.
"We must break down the barriers that stand in
the way of children being placed with qualified
GLBT parents who want to open their hearts and
homes to these children," Human Rights Campaign
Family Project Director Ellen Kahn said.
As part of the initiative, HRC produced a guidebook
for adoption and foster care agencies called,
"With this guidebook, adoption organizations nationwide
can educate themselves and reach out to the nearly
two million gay, lesbian and bisexual people who
are interested in adoption," Kahn said.
Dozens of adoption agencies have signed the "All
Children - All Families" Pledge of Commitment,
including Family Focus Adoption Services in Little
For more information on the campaign, visit www.hrc.org/acaf.
According to the Williams Institute, there were
an estimated 270,313 children in the United States
living in same-sex couple households in 2005.
This statistic was made possible, in part, by
"Surrogacy is the Cadillac, no, the Rolls-Royce
in terms of cost," Lewin said.
Artificial insemination is another increasingly
popular option. According to Lewin, more and more
lesbian couples are choosing to use one person's
egg and another person's body as the surrogate.
"It's a very interesting phenomenon in that they
both see themselves biologically linked to the
child," Lewin said.
In the future, lesbian couples may be able to
procreate through same-sex reproduction methods.
In 2008, several research groups announced they
had made inroads into formulating a so-called
Will Kids Change Everything?
Although gays will not change the culture surrounding
parenting, it is possible that parenting could
change the culture traditionally associated with
the gay community.
"[Having children] changes their relationship
to the wider communities in a lot of ways," Lewin
said, adding, "The stereotypes we have - going
out a lot, late night activities, cultural activities
- a lot of these things fall by the wayside when
you're a parent."
The American Psychological Association's Policy
Statement on "Sexual Orientation, Parents, & Children,"
released in 2004, argues that when it comes to
raising children, gay and lesbian parents are
no different than their straight counterparts.
"There are a lot of scholars who denounce it who
think that it's just assimilation," Lewin said.
"They see these people as sellouts. But they're
assuming that there's a completely separate gay
culture. I don't think there's a separate gay