Gay And Lesbian Adoptions Have Tripled Despite Persistent Discrimination

According to USA Today, "the number of gays and lesbians adopting children has nearly tripled in the past decade despite discriminatory rules in many states, according to an analysis of recent population trends" which is the possibly the best kind of Saturday news you could ask for.

"It's a stratospheric increase. It's like going from zero to 60," said Miami attorney Elizabeth Schwartz who has coordinated more than 100 adoptions for gay and lesbian families in the past year. "I think many really dreamed of doing this but it wasn't something they ever thought would become a reality."

About 21,740 same sex couples had an adopted child in 2009, up from 6,477 in 2000, according to the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. About 32,571 adopted children were living with same sex couples in 2009, up from 8,310 in 2000. The figures are an analysis of newly released Census Bureau estimates.

Researchers at the New York-based Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute found the highest number of homosexuals adopted children from Massachusetts, California, New York and Texas —some of which might make sense, since their laws are generally quite liberal when it comes to LGBT folks in general, but even that isn't always an indicator of how fairly same-sex couples are treated during the adoption process:

Tom Bourdon, 35, and his husband interviewed more than a dozen private adoption agencies when they began the adoption process two years ago. The Massachusetts couple found some agencies "didn't really have experience working with a same sex couple and didn't how to treat us equally."

Once they settled on an agency, the couple created a profile that was open about their sexual orientation and desire to create a family. The couple, who were married in 2005, were matched with a birth mother five weeks later. They adopted their son in 2009 and a daughter eight days ago. Both children were born in California.

"We just wanted to be treated like any other prospective parent out there. We didn't want it to be an issue," said Bourdon, who works in education.

Apart from that, there are still quite a few states that prohibit same-sex couples from adopting jointly, while others just make it as difficult as possible for gays and lesbians —individual or couple— to adopt, often on the basis of "well, they're not married!" which ignores the fact that it is often unlawful for the couple to get married. See how that works?

Virginia allows married couples and single people to adopt or become foster parents, regardless of sexual orientation, but bars unmarried couples - gay or straight - from doing so. Earlier this month, hundreds of residents weighed in on proposed regulations that would allow state-licensed groups to turn down prospective adoptive and foster parents because of their sexual orientation.

Sadly, even if the agency staff would like to work with those families, many people are saying that it's unfair to force staffers "to go against their religious beliefs by coordinating adoptions for gay families":

Catholic Charities refused to recognize Illinois' new civil unions law and allow gay couples and others living together outside marriage to be foster or adoptive parents. The state tried to end its multimillion dollar contracts but a judge temporarily allowed Catholic Charities to work with the state.

"If one agency doesn't serve you and you're gay, then another agency will," said Adam Pertman, executive director of the Adoption Institute. "You don't need 100 percent agency participation. The bottom line is if you're a qualified gay or lesbian in America and you want to adopt, you can."

Which, although dim and flickering, is still a light at the end of the tunnel for same-sex couples and kids without homes alike.

Adoptions spiked among gay couples in past decade [USA Today]