Colombia's constitutional court ruled on Wednesday to keep the current limits on same-sex adoption.
The court said that same-sex couples could only adopt a child if it was the offspring of one of the partners.
Discussion about whether to lift the current restrictions had dominated social media in the hours before the ruling.
It comes almost two years after the country's Congress voted against allowing gay marriages.
Colombian media said the ruling showed great wisdom, arguing that it took the middle road between allowing same-sex couples to freely adopt children and banning same-sex adoption outright.
But lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups expressed their disappointment, saying the ruling did not go far enough.
Senator Armando Benedetti, a supporter of LGBT rights, called the judges "cowards".
The president of Colombia's Conference of Bishops, the Right Reverend Monsignor Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga, said he would continue fighting for "the right of children to have a father and a mother".
"Two mums don't make a dad," he said.
The decision by the court does not prevent Congress from legislating on the issue in the future.
In fact, the court suggested Congress should debate the "legislative vacuum" LGBT couples face in Colombia.