LGBTQ+ Adoption Legal Representation
There is no single standard for a loving family. Divorced or married, single or separated, blended or intact – any family can provide a safe and loving environment for the thousands of children who need parents and a home. Strong family units include couples who are unmarried and cohabitating; multiple generations in one household; and, children living between households. Whatever it looks like, anyone who wants to—and can—love and care for a child should be afforded the gift of adoption; and, this includes the growing number of LGBTQ+ individuals, couples, and families.
In the United States, more than 3 million children under the age of 18 are being loved, cared for, and raised by an LGBTQ parent. LGBTQ couples are nearly seven times more likely to foster and/or adopt than heterosexual couples, and the number of same-sex couples adopting children continues to rise exponentially every year as society becomes more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community.
However, while LGBTQ+ parents and couples are no different than anyone else, their experiences with the adoption process can be.
Challenges to LGBTQ+ adoption in Oklahoma
Though LGBTQ+ rights in Oklahoma have come a long way in recent decades, it has been a tumultuous uphill battle with so much further to go. Same-sex marriage and adoption were finally legalized in Oklahoma in 2014, but just 10 years prior, the state legislature had approved a constitutional ban on it. So, while laws may be changing, deeply-rooted underlying biases are still very much recent history.
Oklahoma legally allows adoption by a couple or unmarried adult regardless of sexual orientation, holding both heterosexual and same-sex couples to the same terms and conditions; and, technically speaking, the adoption process for both traditional and non-traditional families are the same. However, subtly nuanced legislation still active in Oklahoma can pose barriers to successful adoption for same-sex or LGBTQ+ couples and individuals.
Oklahoma’s lack of state-level nondiscrimination legislation expressly protecting LGBTQ+ couples seeking adoption, along with the absence of federal nondiscrimination laws, poses an inherent challenge. Complicating the situation is Oklahoma Senate Bill 1140, the religious adoption bill signed by former Gov. Mary Fallin in May 2018, that allows adoption agencies to decide where to place—or not place—children in accordance with their religious or moral beliefs. This means state-licensed agencies can refuse to place and provide services to children and families, including same-sex couples and LGBTQ+ individuals, if it conflicts with their religious and/or moral convictions.
The subtleties in legislative and social discrimination, both in Oklahoma and around the world, present themselves in a number of ways, including an unwillingness by nearly 80% of adoption agencies to actively recruit LGBTQ+ adoptive parents, and an unspoken hierarchy of preferred parents in those that do consider LGBTQ+ placement. More broadly speaking, LGBTQ+ couples and individuals seeking adoption risk rejection if birth parents in an independent open adoption oppose their gender identity or sexual orientation; and, in international cases, they may face challenges from explicit or implicit policies or codes of other countries biased toward LGBTQ+ individuals.
What does all of this mean for LGBTQ+ individuals and families seeking to adopt in Oklahoma?
It means you need an experienced, professional, and diligent legal partner on your side who knows how to navigate the complexities and nuances of LGBTQ+ specific adoption laws, and who will represent you with assurance and resolve.
LGBTQ+ Adoption in Oklahoma
Stereotypes, restrictions, and bias aren’t helpful, and can stand in the way of providing safe, loving, caring homes for hundreds of kids. I know from personal experience the challenges you face as an LGBTQ+ person seeking adoption in Oklahoma, and I understand your passion to build a family. I also know your rights, your options, and your responsibilities as an adoptive party, and I take the time to make sure you know and understand them, too, so you can be confident in your decisions.
Oklahoma adoption laws allow the following for adoptive parties 21 years of age or older:
- Same-sex couples (married or unmarried) can petition for joint adoption
- A married person may petition the court to adopt a spouse’s child or children from a prior relationship
- In the instance of in vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination, a non-birthing spouse may petition to adopt the child of the birthing spouse; and
- Single LGBTQ+ individuals can petition to adopt as a single parent.
Additionally, a 2007 ruling now requires Oklahoma to issue revised birth certificates of children adopted by same-sex couples that list both adoptive parents; and, as of 2018, the Oklahoma Department of Vital Records now allows parents to choose from more inclusive parent designations on a child’s birth certificate, the options being Mother/Father, Mother/Mother, Father/Father, Parent 1/Parent 2.
Oklahoma Adoption Attorney Specializing in LGBTQ+ Adoptions
Couples or individuals who wish to adopt should never feel pressured to hide their relationship, sexual orientation, or gender identity, because none of these are a determinant of the strength of your family and social network, the depth of your commitment to your family, or your ability to love, care and provide for a child. As your adoption attorney, I will make sure that you are afforded all legal rights and options, and that you are represented with compassion and experience.
I have been providing LGBTQ+ families and individuals in Oklahoma with professional, respectful, and competent adoption services for over 15 years. I understand the toll the legal process can take on everyone, and especially for those who may feel disadvantaged by the very nature of their relationship, sexuality, or gender orientation. I am here to help guide you through that process and your family’s adoption journey with sound legal advice and guidance tailored to your unique situation.
To schedule an adoption consultation or request a free case evaluation, please call me today at 405-602-8446. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or use my online contact form.