LGBT couples, even married ones, have been banned from being foster parents in Nebraska since 1995. That’s extremely unusual; most other states, including Florida, have no official policy one way or another, even when they have other laws approving or restricting LGBT parenting of other types.
For current and potential foster children, there was big news this week. The Nebraska Supreme Court has now reversed the internal administrative memo that, in 1995, banned LGBT couples from being foster parents. If it represents a trend, it very positive for the estimated 500,000 kids in foster care nationwide, about 100,000 of whom need permanent homes. Unfortunately, qualified parents are available to adopt only about 20,000 of those kids.
Foster parents don’t always adopt the children they care for, of course. Often, children who are removed from their homes due to parenting issues do get to go home once their parents resolve the problem. Others are dedicated to being available as foster parents and choose not to adopt. Still, foster parents make up a great pool of potential adoptive parents.
Are LGBT folks able to adopt kids?
Yes. In all 50 states, LGBT couples can petition to jointly adopt children and have the right to be treated the same as all other parents. That said, the fact that one or both parents may be non-biological means that steps do have to be taken to make the parent-child relationship legal and official. An adoption order or court recognition of parentage for any non-biological parent can prevent a lot of problems.
Florida does not have any official policy prohibiting discrimination against LGBT couples in foster care or adoption. Florida law is silent on these issues. That means the LGBT community should feel welcome to petition to be parents in these areas, but should be prepared for a few snafus and difficulties as the official policy is sorted out.