Researchers estimate that the total number of children nationwide living with at least one gay parent ranges from six to 14 million. So far only one state, Florida, totally bans gay adoption. Nine states allow for openly gay and lesbian couples to adopt jointly: California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, plus Washington, D.C. It is more common for one partner to adopt and then for the second to apply as the second parent, or co-parent. Second parent adoption creates a second legally recognized parent for the adoptive children. This is the only way for gay couples to both become legal parents of their children. Second parent adoptions have been granted by the courts in twenty-one states as well as D.C. These states include - Alabama, Alaska, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, and Washington. In general, state agencies and courts now apply a "best interest of the child" standard to decide these cases. Under this approach, a person's sexual orientation cannot be the basis for ending or limiting parent-child relationships unless it is demonstrated that it causes harm to a child. Today social workers must make a difficult decision: should a gay couple be permitted to adopt In fact, gay men and lesbians have always adopted, though in the past they usually hid their sexual orientation. Today, as they have become more visible in all aspects of society, they are determined to be considered seriously as potential adoptive parents. Having children often puts people in contact with many institutions. The alternative to being out and honest for gay parents is to lie or avoid the topic. However, the school administrators will not release a sick child to a "friend", and physicians cannot recognize the medical requests of a "roommate". The situation could be much worse for a child, if his or her "legal" parent dies - then, the other parent, who has no legal parental rights, is unable to do anything to help the child (Curry, Clifford, & Hertz, 2005).
One belief that often underlies both judicial decision-making in custody litigation and public policies governing foster care and adoption has been the belief that lesbians and gay men are not fit to be parents. In particular, courts have sometimes assumed that gay men and lesbians are mentally ill, that lesbians are less maternal than heterosexual women, and that lesbians' and gay men's relationships with sexual partners leave little time for ongoing parent-child interactions (Editors of the Harvard Law Review, 1990). Results of research to date have failed to confirm any of these beliefs (Falk, 1989; Patterson, 1994, 1995, 1996). The psychiatric, psychological, and social-work professions do not consider homosexual orientation to be a mental disorder. More than 25 years ago, the American Psychiatric Association removed "homosexuality" from its list of mental disorders, stating that "homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities" (American Psychiatric Association, 1980). The American Psychological Association and The