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Foster and Adoption Laws

Foster care non-discrimination laws protect LGBT foster parents from discrimination by foster care agencies and officials. Some states explicitly restrict foster care by same-sex parents. Other states ban adoption by unmarried couples, effectively resulting in a ban on foster care by same-sex couples if marriage for same-sex couples is not available in that state.

United States Map
States support fostering by LGBT parents by restricting discrimination (7 states)
States are silent on fostering by LGBT parents (42 states + D.C.)
States restrict fostering by LGBT parents (1 state)
State permits state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse to place and provide services to children and families, including LGBT people and same-sex couples, if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs
NOTE: Utah prohibits unmarried couples from fostering. Michigan, North Dakota, and Virginia permit state-licenses child welfare agencies to deny foster and adoption services to youth and families. For additional information, contact Family Equality Council, Human Rights Campaign, or American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Percent of LGBT Population Covered by Laws

30% of LGBT population lives in states which have laws that support fostering by LGBT parents 70% of LGBT population lives in states which are silent on fostering by LGBT parents 1% of LGBT population lives in states which restrict fostering by LGBT parents

Joint adoption laws permit same-sex couples to adopt a child together, so both prospective parents become that child’s legal parents. Adoption non-discrimination laws protect LGBT parents from discrimination by adoption agencies and officials. Some states explicitly restrict adoption care by same-sex parents. Other states ban adoption by unmarried couples, effectively resulting in a ban on joint adoption by same-sex couples if marriage for same-sex couples is not available in that state.

United States Map
LGBT parents can petition for joint adoption statewide (49 states + D.C.)
Availability is uncertain (0 states)
Same-sex couples face legal restrictions when petitioning for joint adoption (1 state)
Law prohibits discrimination in adoption based on sexual orientation (7 states)
Law also prohibits discrimination in adoption based on gender identity (2 states)
State permits state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse to place and provide services to children and families, including LGBT people and same-sex couples, if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs
NOTE: Based on analysis by MAP and consultation with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). May require being in a legally recognized relationship, such as marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership. Michigan, North Dakota, and Virginia permit state-licenses child welfare agencies to deny foster and adoption services to youth and families.

Percent of LGBT Population Covered by Laws

99% of LGBT population lives in states where LGBT parents can petition for joint adoption statewide 0% of LGBT population lives in states where the availability of joint adoption is uncertain 1% of LGBT population lives in states where LGBT parents face legal restrictions when petitioning for joint adoption

Second-parent adoption laws permit a parent in a same-sex relationship to adopt his/her partner’s child and become a legal parent of that child, giving the child two legal parents and giving both parents legal rights. Stepparent adoption laws require the parents be married, while second-parent adoption laws do not.

United States Map
Parents in legally recognized same-sex relationships can petition for stepparent adoption statewide; relies on access to marriage or relationship recognition (50 states + D.C.)
LGBT parents can petition for second-parent adoption statewide (15 states + D.C.)
Availability is uncertain (0 states)
LGBT parents face legal restrictions when petitioning for either stepparent or second-parent adoption (0 states)
NOTE: Based on analysis by MAP and consultation with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). This map indicates availability of second parent adoption for same-sex couples whose relationships are not legally recognized. Availability of stepparent adoption is limited to couples who enter into legally recognized relationships in states that offer such recognition.

Percent of LGBT Population Covered by Laws

100% of LGBT population live in states where parents in legally recognized same-sex relationships have access to stepparent adoption statewide 45% of LGBT population lives in states where LGBT parents can petition for second-parent adoption statewide 0% of LGBT population lives in states where the availability of stepparent and second-parent adoption is uncertain 0% of LGBT population lives in states where LGBT parents face legal restrictions when petitioning for either stepparent or second-parent adoption
Protections for LGBT parents

Restrictions for LGBT parents

State Foster Care Laws & Regulations Joint Adoption Second/Stepparent Stepparent Adoption
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming


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Data current as of 07/21/2015