Gay adoption law is practiced differently in the United States based on the State in which same-sex couples choose to adopt. Some states are for the adoption of children in all cases as a result of specific legislation or State court rulings, though this applies to less than a fifth of the 50 states. Other states that have ruled in favor of LGBT adoption, meanwhile, have only done so at the trial court level, and as such, gay adoption laws may only apply at the county level.
Conflict of laws is usually construed to apply to cases of international adoption, where a foreign country might refuse gay adoption altogether to the chagrin of American LGBT applicants. However, as gay adoption law is a matter to be adjudicated by the states, interstate adoption within the United States may prove difficult for same-sex couples.
Though they may plan to raise an adopted child in a pro-LGBT adoption State such as Illinois, if they adopted the child from Michigan, where joint custody for same-sex couples is not a legitimate practice, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children might serve to deny lawful recognition of the adoption because it is not legally authorized in both states.
To circumvent conflicts of gay adoption laws, sometimes same-sex adoptive parents will apply separately as individuals in different states. If a partner is not a parent per sé, he or she may consider applying as a second parent to be given full custody rights.
With the lack of consistency and clarity in American gay adoption laws, it is wise for gays and lesbians to enlist the services of an LGBT-friendly attorney.