Foster care is meant to be temporary. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. In Michigan, children may stay in foster care for years. On average, children stay in foster care for two and a half years before an adoption is finalized. In 2010 in Michigan, only 28% of those children waiting in foster care were adopted. Of the children who were adopted, 50% returned home or to relatives. Also, 45% of the children who were adopted were under the age of four. As foster children age, they are less likely to be adopted. African American and Hispanic children are also less likely to be adopted than Caucasian children. Children who are never adopted face numerous challenges. The foster care system ends for a child once they reach the age of 18. In Michigan in 2010, 347 children "aged out" of the system without a permanent family. These children have a higher risk of homelessness, unemployment, depression, and substance abuse than those children who do find permanent families. If homosexual couples were able to adopt together, more children may be adopted. The same could be said for single parenting. If the adoption process was made easier for single parents looking to adopt, then the number of children waiting to be adopted would also decline.
Currently in Michigan, laws allow homosexual couples to both be foster parents and have the same rights as foster parents, but couples are unable to receive a joint-adoption. When one parent adopts a child, the other parent will lose all parental rights. While single people are able to adopt children regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, only married couples are able to adopt a child together. This remains the case even though there is not a specific law forbidding second-parent adoption. Presently, there are a couple of bills pertaining to second-parent adoption in Michigan. If passed, Senate Bill No. 167 would allow two unmarried people to adopt a child together. Both people would have full parental rights over the child. Perpetually, if passed, this bill would give homosexual couples the right to adopt a child together and still have the same parental rights. House Bill No. 5764, if passed, would give religious adoption organizations the right to chose not to allow same-sex couples to adopt a child.
Gay adoption laws vary widely across the United States. While gay couples are legally permitted to adopt in 18 jurisdictions (California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Colombia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington), many other states do not allow same-sex couples to adopt. Florida is the only state that specifically prohibits gay parents from adopting, but Mississippi, Utah, Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin do so as a matter or practice. Mississippi legally prohibits same-sex couples to adopt. Utah's law is similar to Michigan's. It states that unmarried couples cannot adopt, which has the consequence of keeping homosexuals from adopting together. Courts in Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin have stated that second-parent adoptions are not allowed under their states' adoption statutes. Also, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Missouri are now considering constitutional amendments or laws banning gay adoption. Three states-Arkansas, Nebraska, and Utah-also prohibit gay people from serving as foster parents.