Adoption for same-sex couples is a rewarding experience though often very difficult to navigate without expert legal assistance.

As the nation continues celebrating the legalization of same-sex marriage, many states are turning next to adoption rights. California has allowed same-sex marriage since 2013, although the path for equality took a winding, difficult road through Prop 8. But California was ahead of the curve when it comes to equality for adoption rights. In California, single LGBT individuals can adopt children, same-sex couples can jointly adopt, and a same-sex partner can petition to adopt a partner’s child or child of the relationship, but this does not mean adoption is easy.

Fortunately, despite the complexity, it is available to same-sex couples and LGBT individuals to create loving families through adoption. Across the U.S., over 6 million children are being raised by at least one LGBT parent. And California is one of seven states that specifically prohibits discrimination by adoption agencies against same-sex couples. There is no federal law on same-sex adoption, and two states ban adoption by same-sex couples entirely. It is unclear how adoption rights will change in those states that only recently commenced to recognize same-sex marriage.

While legal (and encouraged) in California, adoption for same-sex couples can be a long, convoluted process, one that is largely opaque to those who have not attempted first-hand to adopt. From visits from a social worker to working with international agencies, adoption requires patience and perseverance and an excellent attorney, knowledgeable in the field. Still, the need for adoption is great: in 2014, over 400,000 children were in foster care. Providing a safe, loving environment for those children should be a priority in every state. Yet adoption numbers have been declining since 2004.

California adoption help

You may be wondering whether hiring an attorney is necessary to obtain an adoption. While there is no per se legal requirement that counsel be retained, adopting parents will be required to go through adoption court, prepare and serve numerous court paper, deal with the birth parent(s) and obtain his/her consent and complete thorough interviews and investigations conducted by the state and county. In addition, an experienced family law attorney can help you to answer what will likely be your many questions on adoption, such as:

– What type of adoption do I need? Should I get a stepparent adoption, a private adoption, or an international adoption?

– What are the requirements to adopt? How can I best show the agency involved and California I am ready and able to raise a child? What do I include in my letters of recommendation?

– How do I fill out adoption court forms?

These questions apply to all adoptions. Additional legal requirements and issues may apply to your situation, especially if you are considering surrogacy as an option.

Whether you are just beginning to consider adoption or whether you have already begun the process, obtaining an experienced adoption attorney can save you time and stress, allowing you to focus solely on the adoption and providing a loving home for the child you choose to adopt.

Contact Maya Shulman, a recognized California adoption expert, at Shulman Family Law Group, to discuss your legal options and the necessary steps in the adoption process.