“There is as much love in heterosexual couples as in homosexual couples, there is as much love for these children and all these children are the children of France. This is how Christiane Taubira, then Keeper of the Seals and bearer of marriage for all, defended her bill in the National Assembly ten years ago. The project opened up civil marriage to same-sex couples, but also adoption.
Ten years after the passage of the law, however, it is not always easy for gay and lesbian couples to really form a family in the face of the difficulties represented by the process of adoption. If today it is legal and accepted by society, the procedures are sometimes long and trying.
A “painful wait”
After almost five years of “painful waiting” Karim, 38, and François, 37, (the first names have been changed) “are not giving up”. Pacsés in 2015, they decide to marry in 2018 “for love” but also in order to start a family. “At the time, you had to be married to apply for adoption,” Karim told 20 minutes. In effect, since the law of February 21, 2021aimed at reforming adoption, the latter “can be requested by a married couple not separated from the body, two partners bound by a civil pact of solidarity or two cohabitants”.
Karim, for whom the desire for a child had been acquired since adolescence, and François then embarked on the process. They are the same for all couples. It starts with a request to the House of Adoption. There, Karim remembers that many couples were all gathered in a small room. “It was shielded, there were about fifty of us in a tiny space where special remarks were held, he recalls. Everything was done to put us off. Contacts and appointments with a social worker are set up, with parallel sessions with a psychologist or psychiatrist. Unlike heterosexual couples, gay couples will take care to choose the professional who will be able to determine whether or not they are suitable to become parents because they can always come across individuals who are closed to the idea of homoparenthood.
Nine months later, they obtain approval. “And there, the waiting period begins,” breathes Karim. “You create your own imagination, you dream, shimmer, there are no more appointments, no more contact, no more news. We have no answer on the place for our file and each year, it must be renewed, he continues. It’s the opacity at the level of the sequence that is violent, we don’t know anything. In the meantime, all life projects are on hold, because overnight, the long-awaited letter can turn everything upside down. Her husband, François, “has slowed down in relation to his development in his work”, because they are “attached to Paris”. Changing departments means starting from scratch and losing seniority. “It is not easy within the couple, the family, the relatives. It can lead to depression”, explains Karim who insists all the same: “This project is close to our hearts. But if the five years pass without success, you will have to reapply for approval with the administrative and psychological process that it requires.
Adoption, a complicated global context for everyone
Impossible to know if this long waiting period is due, or not, to their sexual orientation. For Nicolas L. Faget, spokesperson for Association of Gay and Lesbian Parents (APGL), contacted by 20 minutes, “the overall context of adoption is complicated for all applicants because there are more people who want to adopt than children to adopt. “However, he notes improvements concerning same-sex couples despite “hiccups, remarks, behaviors or lack of consideration of files, which however remain marginal”.
According an annual report from the ONPE published in 2019, around 900 children were adopted in 2016. Roughly the same figure for 2017. While there are no official figures for same-sex adoption, “around 200 children, born in France or abroad abroad, have been entrusted to same-sex couples since 2013,” says Nicolas L. Faget. “It’s little but not zero,” he remarks.
The choice of the couple who will be able to welcome the child is made by a vote at the Family Council, made up of associations, elected officials and professionals of child welfare (ESA). On average, the wait lasts two and a half years between approval and the arrival of the child. “It’s close to the average for heterosexual couples,” explains Nicolas L. Faget. But we don’t have any statistics on the couples who are unable to adopt or on the number of couples who are still waiting. »
But hope is possible
Two and a half years is about the time that Loïc and her husband, married since 2015, have waited for the purpose of adopting. The law on marriage for all has allowed this desire for a child “to become a reality”, according to Loïc. And despite the warnings, they launched the process the same year. The same route as Karim and François then embarked on. Except that the wait was shorter and today they are parents of a little boy aged almost 4 years.
After steps where “everything went well” and a “long wait”, remembers Loïc, it is the deliverance. They receive a letter while Loïc is abroad for professional reasons: they are going to be related to a little boy of three months. “It was a lot of emotion, a lot of joy and a little stress. At home, the bedroom was ready, only furniture and clothes were missing. “We had nothing because we didn’t know if it was going to happen,” he explains.
There follows “a whole protocol” to meet the child. Gradually, for about a week, they will get to know their son until the day they can return to their family home. “He was super well prepared,” congratulates Loïc, thanking the foster family with whom their baby lived until his adoption. “This week of matching is very important”, supports the father who received “a lot of advice” on practical gestures such as bathing or diapers.
Other solutions to become parents
Delays can nevertheless discourage some, especially when the outcome is not assured. Loïc and her husband “could have thought about co-parenting” if their adoption plan had not been successful. Spouses indeed turn to other means, sometimes more expensive, just as complicated as adoption but with the certainty that in the end, they will be parents. If female couples can, since the opening of PMA for all in 2021, turn to this solution and many lesbian couples had already chosen this legal option for years in neighboring countries such as Belgium or Spain , couples of men can turn to co-parenting or surrogacy (GPA), illegal in France and accessible only in certain countries.
It is this last option that Quentin, 38, and her husband of English nationality have chosen. They had “the desire for a child from the start of [leur] encounter. “But from the first echoes and returns they had on the adoption six years ago, “it seemed very complicated and closed, he tells 20 minutes. At the time, among the members of the APGL, only one couple had succeeded in adopting. »
But “even if from an ethical point of view, surrogacy was not obvious to me, we turned to this solution. “In a very supervised way, they therefore proceed to a GPA in England. They are now the happy parents of a little girl who will celebrate her 4th birthday in June. Because if “today, the doors have opened”, he observes, “even for heterosexual couples it is complicated. You have to have endurance because the outcome remains uncertain. You have to be able to wait five years for maybe nothing. »