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3 Things Same-Sex Couples Need to Know About Adopting a Child in North Dakota

Same-sex adoption has seen tremendous growth in recent years. According to research by the Williams Institute, same-sex couples are four times more likely to adopt a child than different-sex couples.

Right now, 13% of same-sex couples have an adopted child and, in total, more than 16,000 same-sex couples are raising an estimated 22,000 adopted children in the United States.

Deciding to raise a child through adoption as an LGBT person is a popular decision, and the laws of North Dakota support you. However, there are a few laws related to child adoption by same-sex couples that are worth knowing as you begin the exciting and celebrated process of adoption.

#1 Single Gay Adoption

Yes, gay adoption is permitted in the state of North Dakota. Any single or married adult may petition for adoption. This means gender and sexual orientation can’t be considered when a court decides who’s eligible to adopt a child.

Lesbian couples may conceive a child with the help of a sperm donor.  If married, the non-carrying spouse will not need to adopt the child.  She will be treated the same as a straight spouse and her name will be entered on the child’s birth certificate.  If unmarried, however, the non-carrying partner will need to adopt the child to establish a legal parent-child relationship.

#2 Joint Same-Sex Adoption

While no cases have been brought before state courts, no state statute prohibits joint gay adoption and there is one North Dakota appellate case where a same-sex couple successfully adopted an unrelated child.  If a trial court refused to grant an adoption to a couple based on their sexual or gender orientation, an appellate court would reverse its decision as unconstitutional and discriminatory.

#3 Child-Placing Agency Laws

In North Dakota and a few other states, child-placing agencies are not required to participate in the placement of children that violates their religious or moral convictions according to Cen. Code 50-12-17. Until challenged in the courts, this law allows for same-sex couples to be denied a child because of the child placing agency’s beliefs.

Laws like this are why it is essential to work with an agency that supports the rights of same-sex couples and to seek the guidance and counsel of a family law partner with adoption experience in North Dakota.

A public child-placing agency, such as a County Social Services Department could not legally engage in such discriminatory practices.


When you’ve decided that adopting a child is the best decision for you and your family, please let us know. We’d love to help you through this process. We find joy in bringing families together. It’s our pleasure and honor to make the process as smooth, efficient, and problem-free as possible. Visit our North Dakota Adoption page for more information about how we can help.

Please reach out to us when you are ready to start.


Kari A. Losee

Kari joined Gjesdahl Law, P.C. in 2016. She is dedicated to helping families resolve their issues and address their changing needs. Her practice primarily involves adoptions, …
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