Adoption has increasingly become a way for people of diverse social and marital status to start families, particularly gay and lesbian individuals and couples.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, 21 states and the District of Columbia are "open" to gay adoption. However, there are certain degrees of openness. Some of the HRC's data suggest that the state laws implicitly allow a gay couple to jointly adopt a child. Colorado, for example, allows a gay individual to petition for adoption alone, but not as a couple. Yet, after the adoption is finalized, a same-sex co-parent can petition to adopt a partner's child.
The only state that completely bans any form of homosexual adoption is Florida, when, in 2004, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling of Lofton v. Sect. of the Dept. of Children and Family Services. Florida allows gays to be foster parents, but not adopt. The decision to ban gay adoption in Florida was based on the perceived instability of the relationship by the Federal District Court Judge James King.
Similarly, certain states disallow unmarried and single adoptions, which can affect same-sex couples. More explicit scrutiny involves people's concern about children raised by two people of the same sex instead of a more traditional family, with a mother and father figure. Arguments for gay adoption include the emotional strength that identifying with an underprivileged community can provide to adoptees with special needs.
Many adoption experts do not think gay adoption laws will change if a majority of states continue to operate on implicit legislation, allowing gay couples the same adoptive opportunities as other nontraditional couples.