LGBT adoption is the adoption of children by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT+) people. This may be in the form of a joint adoption by a same-sex couple, adoption by one partner of a same-sex couple of the other's biological child (step-child adoption), or adoption by a single LGBT+ person. Joint adoption by same-sex couples is legal in twenty-seven countries as well as several subnational jurisdictions and dependent territories. Furthermore, some form of step-child adoption is legal for same-sex couples in five countries. Given that constitutions and statutes usually do not address the adoption rights of LGBT persons, judicial decisions often determine whether they can serve as parents either individually or as couples. Opponents of LGBT adoption have argued that LGBT parenting adversely affects children. However, scientific research consistently shows that gay and lesbian parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as those reared by heterosexual parents. Major associations of mental health professionals in the U.S., Canada, and Australia have not identified credible empirical research that suggests otherwise.

LGBT parenting

The existing body of research on outcomes for children with LGBT parents includes limited studies that consider the specific case of adoption. Moreover, where studies do mention adoption they often fail to distinguish between outcomes for unrelated children versus those in their original family or step-families, causing research on the more general case of LGBT parenting to be used to counter the claims of LGBT-adoption opponents.Charlotte Patterson, et. al, "Adolescents with Same-Sex Parents: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, 7 November 2007, pg. 2 One study has addressed the question directly, evaluating the outcomes of adoptees less than 3-years old who had been placed in one of 56 lesbian and gay households since infancy. Despite the small sample, and the fact that the children have yet to become aware of their adoption status or the dynamics of gender development, the study found no significant associations between parental sexual orientation and child adjustment. Scientific research indicates that the children of same-sex couples fare just as well as the children of opposite-sex couples.Brief of the American Psychological Association, Kentucky Psychological Association, Ohio Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Michigan Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, National Association of Social Workers, National Association of Social Workers Tennessee Chapter, National Association of Social Workers Michigan Chapter, National Association of Social Workers Kentucky Chapter, National Association of Social Workers Ohio Chapter, American Psychoanalytic Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, and American Medical Association as Amici Curiae in Support of PetitionersBrief presented to the Legislative House of Commons Committee on Bill C38 by the Canadian Psychological Association – June 2, 2005.



The adoption of children by LGBT people is an issue of active debate. In the United States, for example, legislation to prevent adoption by LGBT people has been introduced in many jurisdictions; such efforts have largely been defeated. Prior to 1973, state courts commonly barred gay and lesbian individuals from holding a parenting role, especially through adoption. Major professional organizations have made statements in defense of adoption by same-sex couples. The American Psychological Association has supported adoption by same-sex couples, citing social prejudice as harming the psychological health of lesbians and gays while noting there is no evidence that their parenting causes harm. The American Medical Association has issued a similar position supporting second parent adoption by same-sex partner, stating that lack of formal recognition can cause health-care disparities for children of same-sex parents. The following arguments are made in support of adoption by LGBT parents: *The right of a child to have a family, guardians or people who can take care of their wellbeing *Human rights – child's and parent's right to have a family life *There are almost no differences between children raised by same-sex or straight couples. For that reason, sexual orientation of the parents has almost no relevance when it comes to raising a child *Evidence confirming that, despite the claims of those opposed to LGBT+ parenting, same-sex couples can provide good conditions to raise a child *For the children, adoption is a better alternative to orphanage *Less formalities for step-parents in everyday life, as well as the situation of a death of a biological parent of a child The following arguments are made against adoption by LGBT parents: *Many adoption agencies are faith-based - it may go against their religion to support LGBTQ+ parents. *Some people think that children need a mom and a dad, rather than both of one or the other, or neither (nonbinary). They assume that one gender can teach certain things to their children that the other gender can't. *Some people think that children raised in same-sex parenting (or otherwise LGBTQ+) households will more likely experience gender and sexual disorders. *There are a lot of thoughts about typical gender roles, including what a mother and father should do in the house, as well as women needing to "domesticate" men.

Public opinion

National debates

, there are national debates on LGBT parenthood in the following countries: * Chile * Czech Republic (step-child or partial adoption)

Legal status

Joint adoption by same-sex couples is legal in the following countries: * Andorra (2014) * Argentina (2010) * Australia (first jurisdiction 2002, last jurisdiction 2018) * Austria (2016) * Belgium (2006) * Brazil (2010) * Canada (first jurisdiction 1996, last jurisdiction 2011) *Colombia (2015) *Costa Rica (2020) * Denmark (2010) ** Greenland (2016) ** Faroe Islands (2017) * Finland (2017) * France (2013) * Germany (2017) * Iceland (2006) * Ireland (2015) *Israel (2008) *Luxembourg (2015) * Malta (2014) * Netherlands (2001) * New Zealand (2013) * Norway (2009) * Portugal (2016) * South Africa (2002) * Spain (2005) * Sweden (2003) * United Kingdom ** England and Wales (2005) ** Scotland (2009) ** Northern Ireland (2013) * United States (first jurisdiction 1993, last jurisdiction 2017) * Uruguay (2009) Joint adoption by same-sex couples is legal in the following subnational jurisdictions or dependent territories: * UK Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories: ** Bermuda (2015) ** Cayman Islands (2019) ** Gibraltar (2014) ** Guernsey (2017) ** Isle of Man (2011) ** Jersey (2012) ** Pitcairn Islands (2015) ** Falkland Islands (2017) ** Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (2017) * Mexico: **Aguascalientes (2019) ** Baja California (2017) ** Campeche (2016) ** Chiapas (2017) ** Chihuahua (2017) ** Coahuila (2014) ** Colima (2016) ** Hidalgo (2019) ** Mexico City (2010) ** Michoacán (2016) ** Morelos (2016) ** Nayarit (2019) ** San Luis Potosí (2019) ** Puebla (2017) ** Veracruz (2016) ** Querétaro (2017) * Caribbean Netherlands (2012) The following countries permit step-child adoption in which the partner in a relationship can adopt the natural and the adopted child of his or her partner: * Estonia (2016) * Italy (2016 – on a case-by-case basis) * Slovenia (2011) * Switzerland (2018) * San Marino (2018) *Taiwan (2019) Since 2014 in Croatia, a similar institution called partner-guardianship exists. It allows a life partner who is not a biological parent of their partner's child or children to gain parental responsibilities on a temporary or permanent basis.


South Africa

South Africa is the only African country to allow joint adoption by same-sex couples. The 2002 decision of the Constitutional Court in the case of ''Du Toit v Minister of Welfare and Population Development'' amended the Child Care Act, 1983 to allow both joint adoption and stepparent adoption by "permanent same-sex life partners". The Child Care Act has since been replaced by the Children's Act, 2005, which allows joint adoption by "partners in a permanent domestic life-partnership", whether same- or opposite-sex, and stepparent adoption by a person who is the "permanent domestic life-partner" of the child's current parent. Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2006, and is equivalent to opposite-sex marriage for all purposes, including adoption.



Canada has no nation-wide law legalizing same-sex adoption, but rather has smaller provincial laws that cover the entire nation. Same-sex adoption legalization in Canada began with British Columbia in 1996 and was finalized with Nunavut in 2011. By 2013, an Ipsos Global poll showed 70% of Canadians approved of same-sex adoption to some degree with 45% strongly approving.


In Chile, same-sex couples are allowed to apply to adopt a child. If applicants are approved as suitable to adopt, legally only one of them would be the legal parent of the child. A 2017 survey, shows that 45% of Chileans support same sex adoption, whilst 50% are opposed.


On 4 November 2015, in a 6-2 Constitutional Court ruling, Colombia decided to allow adoption by LGBT peoples. The ruling came before same-sex marriage became legal in the country on 28 April 2016.


As of May 2019, the Honduras Supreme Court is expected to rule on a decision regarding both same-sex marriage and adoption.


In Mexico City, the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District passed legislation on 21 December 2009 enabling same-sex couples to adopt children. Eight days later, Head of Government ("Mayor") Marcelo Ebrard signed the bill into law, which officially took effect on 4 March 2010. On 24 November 2011, the Coahuila Supreme Court struck down the state's law barring same-sex couples from adopting, urging the state's legislature to amend the adoption law as soon as possible. On 12 February 2014, the state's congress overwhelmingly approved the measure more than two years following the supreme court decision. On 3 February 2017 the SCJN emitted tesis 08/2017 in which it is stated that the family of the LGBT community doesn't end with a couple, but that it also extends onto the right to have and raise children. Therefore, LGBT couples wishing to form a family and adopt children will be legally protected and can't be limited by any governmental entity.

United States

Adoption by LGBT individuals or same-sex couples is legal in all fifty states as of June 2017.


A government-sponspored adoption law in Uruguay allowing LGBT adoption was approved by the lower house on 28 August 2009, and by the Senate on 9 September 2009. In October 2009, the law was signed by President and took effect. According to Equipos Mori Poll's, 53% of Uruguayans are opposed to same sex adoption against 39% that support it. Interconsult's Poll made in 2008 says that 49% are opposed to same sex adoption against 35% that support it.


LGBT rights for adoption of children in Asia are almost inexistent, except in Israel. Some Asian countries still criminalise same-sex activities, do not have anti-discrimination laws, which are an obstacle from legislating for LGBT adoption.


A January 2005 ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court allowed stepchild adoptions for same-sex couples. Israel previously allowed limited co-guardianship rights for non-biological parents. In February 2008, a court in Israel ruled that same-sex couples were now permitted to adopt a child regardless of whether the child is biologically related or not to either parent. This marked a watershed in granting equal rights to all gay people in Israel.


Same-sex couples are able to legally adopt. However, they can only adopt the biological child of their same-sex partner (so-called stepchild adoptions). Taiwan law only allows for married people to adopt, but also allows single individuals to adopt, depending on the circumstances, including individual LGBT people. The same-sex marriage law (that passed the Legislative Yuan in May 2019) grants same-sex couples the right to adopt children genetically related to one of the partners.


In February 2006, France's Court of Cassation ruled that both partners in a same-sex relationship can have parental rights over one partner's biological child. The result came from a case where a woman tried to give parental rights of her two daughters to her partner, with whom she was in a civil union. In the case of adoption, however, in February 2007, the same court ruled against a lesbian couple where one partner tried to adopt the child of the other partner. The court stated that the woman's partner cannot be recognized unless the mother withdrew her own parental rights. On 17 May 2013, French President François Hollande signed into law the bill that opened marriage and adoption rights linked to it for same sex couples. In 1998, a nursery school teacher from Lons-le-Saunier, living as a couple with another woman, had applied for an authorization to adopt a child from the ''département'' (local government) of Jura. The adoption board recommended against the authorization because the child would lack a paternal reference, and thus the president of the ''département'' ruled against the authorization. The case was appealed before the administrative courts and ended before the Council of State, acting as supreme administrative court, which ruled against the woman. The European Court of Human Rights concluded that these actions and this ruling were a violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights taken in conjunction with Article 8. On 2 June 2006, the Icelandic Parliament unanimously passed a proposal accepting adoption, parenting and assisted insemination treatment for same-sex couples on the same basis as heterosexual couples. The law went into effect on 27 June 2006. In Bulgaria, according to the Ministry of Justice the laws regarding adoption "lack a norm, concerning the sexual orientation of the individuals". Therefore, a single gay person or same-sex couples may adopt. On 17 May 2013, the Portuguese parliament approved a bill in first reading allowing "co-adoption" of the biological or adopted child of the same-sex spouse or partner, where that spouse or partner is the only legally recognized parent of the child (e.g. the mother with the natural father not being registered). However, in October 2013 members of parliament opposed to the bill proposed a referendum on the issue and killed a motion to have the second vote in the plenary; the motion on the possible referendum was then considered, but the Constitutional Court declared it unconstitutional. On 14 March 2014, the original bill was rejected in second reading. On 20 November 2015, 5 proposals from several left-wing parties were voted favourably by the new parliament as result of 4 October General Elections. In July 2014 through Life Partnership Act Croatia recognized an institution similar to step-child adoption called partner-guardian. A partner who is not a biological parent of a child can share parental responsibilities with a biological parent or parents if they agree to it, or if the court decides it is in the best interest of a child. Additionally, a biological parent or parents can temporarily give a partner who is not a biological parent full parental responsibilities. A partner who is not a biological parent can also gain permanent parental responsibilities through an institution of partner-guardian if both biological parents of a child have died, or exceptionally if a second biological parent of a child is unknown, and if the court decides it is in the best interest of a child. In January 2015, the Constitutional Court of Austria found the existing laws on adoption to be unconstitutional and ordered the laws to be changed by 31 December 2015 to allow joint adoption by same-sex couples in Austria. On 6 April 2015, the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015 passed by Parliament in March 2015 which extends full adoption rights to cohabiting couples and those in civil partnerships was promulgated by the President of Ireland. The law went into effect a year later on 6 April 2016. On 20 November 2015 the Portuguese Parliament approved; by 141 votes against 87 with 2 abstentions; a diploma presented by all the parties (except the right-wing PàF) to allow same-sex adoption. On 26 January 2016, the conservative Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva vetoed the bill and a week later the Portuguese Parliament overridden the veto. The law went into effect on 1 March 2016. On 22 June 2016 the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation upheld a lower court's decision to approve a request for a lesbian to adopt her partner's daughter. Prosecutors had appealed against the decision by the Rome court of appeal. Decisions by the supreme court set a precedent. In December 2020, Hungary explicitly legally banned adoption for same-sex couples within its constitution.



In Australia, same-sex adoption is legal in all states and territories since April 2018.

New Zealand

The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013, which came into force on 19 August 2013, allowed same-sex marriage and permitted married same-sex couples to jointly adopt children. Previously, an LGBT individual was able to adopt children, but same-sex couples could not adopt jointly. Currently, there are no specific barriers preventing an LGBT individual from adopting children, except that a male individual cannot adopt a female child. Same-sex marriage law became effective from 19 August 2013, and since then married same-sex couples were able to adopt children jointly. Unmarried couples of any sex and couples in a civil union can now jointly adopt children, under a New Zealand High Court ruling in December 2015. The ban breached the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. The minimum age to adopt in New Zealand is 20 years for a related child, and 25 years or the child's age plus 20 years (whichever is greater) for an unrelated child.

Summary of laws by jurisdiction

See also

* Same-sex marriage * Civil union * LGBT rights * Heterosexism * Adoption proceedings of Emma Rose * ''Mommy Mommy'', a 2007 documentary about a lesbian adoptive couple * ''Preacher's Sons'', a 2008 documentary about a gay adoptive couple * Catholic Charities USA § Controversies * Same-sex adult adoption


Further reading

* Primary resource collection and readings. Library of Congress. Jefferson or Adams Bldg General or Area Studies Reading Rms * Primary resource collection and readings. Library of Congress. Jefferson or Adams Bldg General or Area Studies Reading Rms *Stacey, J. & Davenport, E. (2002) Queer Families Quack Back, in: D. Richardson & S. Seidman (Eds) Handbook of Lesbian and Gay Studies. (London, SAGE Publications), 355–374. *New Zealand Law Commission: ''Adoption- Options for Reform: Wellington: New Zealand Law Commission Preliminary Paper No 38'': 1999:

External links

Gay.com – Adoption and Parenting
– News and Current Events pertaining to the rights and responsibilities of same-sex parents in adopting and parenting

– News story of gay and lesbian adoptive families, and the surrogate and donor family {{Adopt Category:Adoption forms and related practices Category:Adoption, fostering, orphan care and displacement Category:Family law Adoption