How Hard Is it to Adopt a Child as a Same-Sex Couple in Indiana?

Adoption is a complex process, and it’s rarely easy for any person or couple—regardless of their sexuality. Simply understanding the process and being prepared to cover the cost to adopt a child can be daunting.

However, there are some unique adoption challenges that same-sex couples might face. Luckily, the legal right to take on this challenge is not one of those obstacles.

Adopting a Child as a Member of the LGBTQ Community

Any adult over the age of 21 who is able to in the state of Indiana is legally allowed to adopt a child. However, each agency does have its own requirements for prospective parents. Those can include age, marital status, and other factors.

An adult member of the LGBTQ community who meets the requirements for adoption can adopt a child in Indiana. This means that the person must be able to demonstrate that they can financially and emotionally support the child and provide a secure and loving home. They must also complete required criminal background checks, training classes, and the necessary adoption paperwork and process.

Can an LGBTQ Couple Jointly Adopt?

Indiana law requires that married couples adopt a child or children jointly. This means that one person in the marriage can’t adopt the child on their own without the other person participating.

In the same vein, unmarried couples can’t adopt jointly. Only one individual within the relationship could technically adopt a child, and that person would retain the only parental rights.

These two facts were historically a challenge for same-sex couples who wanted to adopt jointly. Prior to 2015, same-sex marriages were not legally recognized in Indiana. This meant that even if a same-sex couple was married in another state that did recognize such unions, they would not be afforded legal marriage rights in Indiana. Because they wouldn’t be recognized as a legal couple, they could not adopt a child jointly. One of the individuals in the union could adopt a child, and the couple could care for the child together. However, this isn’t always ideal, because only the one adoptive parent has legal parental rights.

In 2015, the United States Surprise Court ruled that same-sex couples had a fundamental right to marriage and such marriages must be recognized by all states. This ruling meant that same-sex couples in Indiana had all the legal rights that opposite-sex couples do—including the ability to adopt jointly. This is still true as of October 2023.

Some Challenges Same-Sex Couples May Face in Adopting

Same-sex couples can face all of the same challenges that opposite-sex couples face when seeking to adopt a child. But there are also some challenges that are more likely for or unique to same-sex couple adoptions.

Protecting the Rights of Both Parents

This is a concern for any parents who are entering into adoption. Same-sex couples or individuals may want to ensure that the language in their adoption paperwork is inclusive and specific to ensure that their rights are best protected.

Parental rights may also be important to consider if you are adopting a stepchild. If a same-sex couple enters into a marriage and one of the spouses has a child from a previous relationship, the stepparent may desire to adopt the child. This is a lovely emotional gesture, but it’s not always as simple as desiring to adopt. In this case, you may need to consider the rights of both of the child’s biological parents and how those are impacted by an adoption. You must also get consent from the non-custodial parent for the adoption or demonstrate why that consent is not necessary.

Working With Agencies That Don’t Discriminate

State-licensed agencies can’t legally discriminate against same-sex couples. Instead, these agencies are supposed to consider what is best for a child and whether an individual or couple can provide a safe and loving home.

However, there are certainly organizations with religious affiliations that don’t believe in same-sex marriage. It is possible that there may be some friction in the process if you choose to work with such organizations for adoption. As a same-sex couple, you may want to choose agencies that specifically say they don’t discriminate or have a track record of placing children with same-sex couples.

Overcoming Potential Public Opinion Issues

Even once you get through the process of adopting successfully, you may need to overcome certain ingrained biases or public opinion issues. Depending on the open-mindedness and diversity of the community where you live, this can range from answering questions that opposite-sex couples would never receive to dealing with discrimination in a school or other setting.

Should You Work With a Lawyer?

Working with professionals before, during, and after your adoption process can help you overcome any challenges you might face. Carefully consider the adoption agency you are choosing to work with and be open to working with professionals such as counselors in the weeks and months following an adoption to support the growth and health of your family.

Before and during an adoption, an experienced family law attorney can also be extremely helpful. Your attorney works to support your interests and guide you through the complex process of adoption. Reach out to the Law Office of Deidra N. Haynes at 317-785-1832 to schedule a consultation to find out how we can help.