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Can Pennsylvania same-sex couples adopt?

On Behalf of | May 3, 2023 | Same-Sex Matters

If you are a same-sex couple in our state and you want to start or expand your family through adoption, you may have some questions about the process and the legal requirements. There are two main types of adoption for same-sex couples in Pennsylvania: third-party adoption and second parent adoption.

Third-party adoption

Third-party adoption is when a person or a couple adopts a child who is not biologically related to either of them. This can include adopting a child from foster care, from a private agency or from another country. Third-party adoption requires a home study, background checks and court approval. Same-sex couples can adopt jointly as a married couple or as an unmarried couple as long as they meet the eligibility criteria for adoption in Pennsylvania.

Second-parent adoption

Second-parent adoption is when a person adopts the biological or legal child of their partner or spouse. This can include adopting a child conceived through assisted reproduction, such as sperm donation or surrogacy, or adopting a child that the partner or spouse adopted previously. Second-parent adoption allows both partners or spouses to have equal parental rights and responsibilities for the child, regardless of their marital status. It is usually faster and easier than third-party adoption since there is already an established relationship between the child and the adoptive parent.


Both types of adoption have advantages and disadvantages for same-sex couples. Some of the benefits of adoption are it provides a permanent and legal family for the child and the parents. It also protects the child’s inheritance rights and access to benefits, such as health insurance, social security and education. It allows both parents to make medical and educational decisions for the child, and adoption gives both parents emotional security and peace of mind.


Some of the challenges of adoption are that it can be expensive and time-consuming, depending on the type of adoption and the agency involved. It can also be stressful and intrusive as the adoptive parents have to undergo evaluations, interviews and inspections by social workers and judges. It can be complicated and uncertain as the adoptive parents have to navigate different laws and regulations in different states and countries. And, adoption can be emotionally difficult as the adoptive parents may face discrimination, stigma or rejection from their families, communities or institutions.

If you are a same-sex couple interested in adopting a child in Pennsylvania, you do have options. You should also seek support from other adoptive parents who can share their experiences and advice.

Pennsylvania Bar Association

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