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What Gay and Straight Adoptive Parents Have in Common

When it comes to parenting, gay and straight parents share many similarities. Both are dedicated to providing their children with love, support, and stability. They are equally invested in instilling morals and values in their children, guiding them to become responsible, kind individuals. 

While both gay and straight parents share a commitment to loving and nurturing their children, they experience different societal responses to their parenting. Gay parents often have to combat stereotypes and misconceptions about their parenting abilities or the well-being of their children. Despite these challenges, gay parents build strong, resilient families in the same ways that straight adoptive parents do. 

This article reveals the commonalities between gay and straight parents, shedding light on the universal values of love, compassion, and strength within the adoption community.

Shared Challenges in the Adoption Process

While gay parents face augmented obstacles, both gay and straight parents experience many of the same challenges while navigating adoption. Let’s take a look at their shared experiences.

Experiences on the Road to Parenthood

The conditions necessary to love and nurture a child are generally the same. Straight and LGBTQ+ individuals also share some commonalities when it comes to undergoing the adoption process.

Legal and Administrative Duties during adoption process
  • Legal and Administrative Duties: Includes navigating the legal landscape of adoption, submitting to a home study, and completing paperwork in preparation for adoption. Although adoption has long been universally accepted for heterosexual parents, it was only federally recognized for LGBTQ+ parents in 2017, leading to ongoing issues of stigma and judgment.
  • Adoption Expenses: Managing costs associated with adoption, including legal expenses, agency fees, and home study fees
  • Forming Attachment: Being patient and consistent in building trust and connection with their child
  • Processing Difficult Emotions: Includes uncertainty during the waiting period, frustration over setbacks, grief over their inability to conceive, self-doubt about their ability to care for the child, and other emotional challenges
  • Nurturing a Network: Establishing and maintaining a solid support system of friends, family, and professionals

Facing Stereotypes and Stigma

Though the types of stigma vary, both straight and gay adoptive parents deal with misconceptions that pose hurdles in their pursuit of a loving family. 

For example, families involved in transracial adoptions may face societal judgments about their abilities to raise a child of a different race or ethnicity and honor the child’s cultural identity. There is also a pervasive stereotype that adoptive parents, regardless of sexual orientation, are unable to form a bond with a child who isn’t biologically their own. Both parents face dealing with questions from their child or others about the adoption and family dynamics, which is more pronounced for LGBTQ+ families.

LGBTQ+ families face additional layers of judgment when starting or growing their family through adoption. Some adoption agencies may have policies that are less welcoming or discriminatory towards gay parents, limiting their options. Negative attitudes and judgment from some community members can be hurtful, and LGBTQ+ parents may even experience lack of support from some extended family members. 

The emotions that arise from such experiences can be managed through developing a strong support system committed to advocacy and education.

Navigating Identity and Celebrating Diversity

lgbt dads with their adopted daughter

Every child deserves a home that fosters a sense of identity. Inclusivity in adoption promotes and encourages adoptive families to embrace and celebrate the diverse range of backgrounds present in the community.

Parents can engage in practices that teach families and children to appreciate diversity. Here are some examples.

  • Joining LGBTQ+ parenting groups and cultural events, where adoptive parents and children learn to understand and grow in environments that value different backgrounds
  • Opting for transracial or transethnic adoption
  • Exploring openness in adoption, so children maintain  a direct link to their cultural heritage which promotes healthy identity development

Exchanging experiences through collaboration is another invaluable strategy to promote inclusivity between LGBTQ+ and heterosexual parents. These include collaboration through community building, information sharing, mentorship, advocacy, and educational awareness. Such activities enable adoptive parents to develop a sense of belonging and solidarity that will strengthen inter- and intrafamilial bonds.

Building Loving Families

All parenting strategies boil down to building a stable, loving home for the child. Promoting inclusivity and open communication enables adoptive parents to tackle societal stereotypes and assist in reducing stigma. These actions work to impress upon society that regardless of family structure, adoptive parents all share a deep love for their children and want to give them a lifetime of security and love they long for and deserve.

A 2013 report published in the journal Pediatrics supports this principle. Research demonstrates that the most significant contributors to children’s welfare are

  • their relationships with their parents,
  • parental security and competence, and
  • the level of social and economic support available.

These are the factors that affect a child’s well-being, not their parents’ gender or sexual orientation. It’s not about your being a straight or gay parent; it’s about how all parents create a nurturing environment for their child.

Bonus: The Power of Shared Stories

Firsthand experiences offer priceless insights for prospective parents. Let’s dive into real, moving stories from both gay and straight adoptive parents about their adoption journeys.

From Small Conversations to Special Bonds

Devon and Joel adopted Aaron when he was just a newborn, driven by the desire to provide him with a loving home and a stable upbringing. Their journey began with simple chats about the kind of family they wanted to build while recognizing the challenges same-sex couples face. Despite this, they remained determined to adopt, eventually meeting their son through Open Arms Adoptions.

For the couple, meeting Aaron felt like destiny. The agency provided invaluable support throughout, making their journey smooth and fulfilling. In the future, the couple hopes to welcome another precious life into their growing family.

Nurturing Farms and Families

Kaiser’s adoption story began when a loving couple, Kyle and Hallie, moved from Oklahoma City to Ohio in 2017, determined to pursue their farming dreams. After two years, they decided to expand their family through adoption. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, they were chosen to parent Kaiser in 2020, bringing immense joy to their lives.

Balancing parenting and farming duties can be challenging, but the unwavering support they get from the agency and their loved ones makes the journey worthwhile. They also maintain a strong, open relationship with Kaiser’s birth mother, treating her as an integral part of their extended family. For the couple, family is about being together and supporting one another.


As Maya Angelou once said, “Love recognizes no barriers.” Regardless of the differences between LGBTQ+ and heterosexual adoptive parents, they have commonalities rooted in their profound love for children.

Both parents experience the joys and challenges of parenthood and deal with various stereotypes and stigmas. More importantly, both parents work toward building loving families, fostering identity, and engaging in supportive groups to maintain unity and understanding within the adoptive community. 

Open Arms Adoptions is a leading adoption agency that serves individuals and couples of all genders. Inclusivity is the heart of their mission; they warmly welcome all prospective adoptive parents of all lifestyles and envelop them in a supportive environment where everyone feels respected and appreciated.

Contact Open Arms Adoptions if you are exploring a new chapter in your family. Let’s cultivate strength, awareness, and empowerment within the community of adoptive families.

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Open Arms Adoptions is 501(c)3 non-profit agency licensed by the State of Ohio.

Our mission is to provide a loving, stable home to every child in need. We work tirelessly to create an environment that embraces the unique set of circumstances each of our birth parents, prospective adoptive parents and children bring to us. 
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