While adoptions by family members are the most prevalent kind of adoptions, non-family adoptions are also common. Non-family adoptions can be a little more complicated, especially if there are other issues. This article discusses a few kinds of adoptions and how those adoptions look when adoptive parents are not family members.
Becoming a foster parent can be a very rewarding experience. Foster parents also fill a need because there are many children who are looking for safe foster homes, especially older children and children with disabilities. Many foster parents end up wanting to adopt their foster children. Adopting through foster care is much less expensive than through private, international, or agency adoptions.
Foster parents are usually well suited to adopt the child because, in most cases, the child will have lived with them for a period before the adoption is finalized. That can give both the child and the parents more confidence that the adoption will be a good fit. Since they have already gone through some aspects of the adoption process to become foster parents, such as home studies and interviews, the process may go quickly if the child is available for adoption. However, if either of the biological parents still have parental rights, the process for official adoption will take much longer. During this time, the child will usually be living with the foster parent(s).
The most complicating factor for foster parent adoption is when the biological parents maintain parental rights, yet they are not allowed to have custody of the child. Foster care may then become a kind of limbo in which the child may potentially be returned to their biological parent(s) or may become free for the foster parent(s) to adopt them.
Generally, single parents are able to adopt a child. However, some agencies and countries (in international adoptions) will not allow single parents to adopt. Single parents may face additional burdens in the adoption process, such as needing to prove that their employer is family friendly or that they have childcare in place. Single parents looking to adopt may also need to show that they have family and friends who are able to provide support to them as they parent.
If you are married, you are not able to adopt as an individual; your spouse must also be part of the process. Some states will allow people who are legally separated to adopt as a “single” person.
Almost all states allow same-sex couples to adopt, although laws are changing constantly, and you should look at state-specific laws to be sure. Once again, some private agencies and international adoption agencies will not work with same-sex couples. In some states, LGBTQ people have an easier time adopting as a single person than they do as a same-sex couple. This is because some states require joint petitions to be by a “husband and wife.” While state laws vary, studies are clear that children raised in households with same-sex parents have outcomes that are just as good as children raised in households with opposite-sex parents.
Transgender people who want to adopt may face an uphill battle, depending on the state. This is not necessarily because of the laws, since transgender parents are generally not contemplated in adoption law, but because of discrimination. Judges, social workers, and adoption agency employees may have biases or prejudices against transgender people that interfere with the adoption process. Other states or agencies may not have any issue with it at all, and several states protect LGBTQ adoptive parents from discrimination of this type.
There is no reason why military parents cannot adopt a child. The laws that govern an adoption by military parents will depend on where the parents are located. All military parents will be governed by U.S. law, but they may also need to comply with the laws of the country where they are located if they are overseas. Military benefits may also be available to help reimburse parents for some of the adoption-related costs that they incur.
However, military parents may have more things to figure out beforehand than civilian parents. For example, if it is a single individual, they will need to have a plan for where the child can live if they are deployed. Aside from the logistics of the process, however, it is substantially similar to other kinds of adoptions. It is especially important for military families to keep the social service or adoption agency updated on their plans, as well as keeping command updated on the progress of the adoption.