Removing Barriers to U.S. Public Adoption: The Impact of Equal Legal Rights for Same-Sex Married Couples

Scott Dallman , University of Minnesota

Within the last five years, the legal status and rights deemed to same--sex marriage has undergone major changes. Beginning Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, the IRS announced it will recognize all legally married same--sex couples for federal tax and benefit purposes. With the 2015 ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges, all 50 states were required to issue marriage licenses to same--sex couples and to recognize the legal rights of married same--sex couples. This study examines how the legal recognition of same--sex marriage has affected U.S. public adoption rates. While the private market for domestic and international adoption has been available for same--sex couples, historically they faced major barriers to publicly adopting a child. Using a difference-in-difference framework, this study finds a slight increase in the number of public adoptions post--2014 IRS same-sex married couple recognition using the 2015 state--level count of IRS same--sex married couples joint tax filers as a heterogeneous treatment.

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 Presented in Session 4. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions