Gay and lesbian couples and individuals face some unique challenges when it comes to adoption. Over the years, the number of children raised by same sex families and individuals has risen. Currently, more than 16,000 same sex couples are raising more than 22,000 adopted children in the United States only. If you’re same sex couple or an individual hoping to adopt, keep these tips in mind.

Know your state’s laws and regulations.

Each state has its own laws surrounding same sex adoptions. Sometimes, those laws vary greatly from state to state. Your first step should be to research all there is about the laws in your state. It’s also recommended to work with a lawyer specializing in LGBT adoption who understands the laws and can help you find the best path for successful adoption. Same sex couples can now adopt children in all 50 states, but there are some special rules about joint custody and parental rights you need to know before the adoption process.

Consider all adoption options.

Before deciding which adoption type to pursue, consider all options. First, you will need to decide whether you want to adopt an infant or an older child. After that it’s the time to figure out do you want to go through private or public adoption agency. Same sex couples can adopt domestically, internationally, or from foster care. Before you even fill out the adoption application, you should consider which adoption type is the right fit for you and your family. Based on the level of openness, there are three adoption types including closed adoption, semi-open adoption, and open adoption.

Choose the right agency or professional.

If you want to find an adoption agency or professional that’s a right fit for you, you should take your time. Ask same sex couples who have adopted for recommendations, set interviews, and write down some questions to ask adoption professionals at that interview. Prospective parents also need to go through a series of interviews and paperwork before becoming licensed. This is why it’s so important to locate an adoption agency or professional that's a good fit for you.

Find a good lawyer and a social worker.

After finding a gay-friendly adoption agency or professional, it’s also important to find perfect adoption lawyers and social workers. You need someone who is going to guide you through the entire process since it will be long and stressful. Interviews, paperwork, and a home study are normal parts of every adoption process. That’s why you need to find a proper lawyer and a social worker.

Find a support community. 

Getting support from like-minded individuals is extremely important for couples hoping to adopt. You must be aware of the fact that an adoption process can be overwhelming. This is why it’s so important to have a group of people on your journey with you. You can also contact other same sex couples who have already adopted to share their experiences. Sometimes, it’s much easier to deal with things when you know what to expect.