Newswise — Should the sexual orientation of prospective adoptive parents be considered when placing children in adoptive homes?
According to the results of a new University of Virginia study, the answer may be “no.”
In a sample of 106 adoptive children living in different parts of the United States, youngsters were developing well regardless of whether they were living with lesbian, gay or heterosexual parenting couples. The study found that whether or not adoptive children were developing in positive ways was unrelated to the sexual orientation of their adoptive parents.
The finding appears in the August issue of the journal Applied Developmental Science.
“We found that children adopted by lesbian and gay couples are thriving,” said U.Va. psychology professor Charlotte J. Patterson, who led the study. “Our results provide no justification for denying lesbian or gay prospective adoptive parents the opportunity to adopt children. With thousands of children in need of permanent homes in the United States alone, our findings suggest that outreach to lesbian and gay prospective adoptive parents might benefit children who are in need.”
The research assessed adjustment and development among preschool-aged children adopted at birth by lesbian, gay or heterosexual couples. Using standardized assessment procedures, researchers found that parents and teachers agreed, on average, that the children were developing in typical ways. Measures of children’s adjustment, as well as parenting practices and stress, were found to be unassociated with the parents’ sexual orientation. And, regardless of their parents’ sexual orientation, how well children were adjusted was significantly associated with how warmly their parents were oriented to them.
Adoption of minor children by same-sex couples has been a controversial topic. Same-sex couples are prohibited by law from adopting children in Florida, Mississippi and Utah. Voters in Arkansas passed a ban on adoptions by same- and opposite-sex unmarried couples in 2008, only to have it overturned by the courts. That case is currently on appeal.
In the last few years, legislatures in a number of other states have also debated proposals to prohibit adoptions by same-sex couples. On the other hand, joint adoptions by same-sex couples are permitted in many states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Vermont.
The study was authored by Patterson, who also is a faculty member and research scientist at the Fenway Institute’s Center for Population Research in LGBT Health in Boston; Rachel H. Farr, a U.Va. doctoral candidate; and Stephen L. Forssell, a faculty member in psychology at George Washington University. It was funded by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.