A STUDY in the US has reaffirmed that children adopted by same-sex parents experience the same behavioural issues as those adopted by heterosexual parents.
Professor Rachel Farr at the University of Kentucky studied nearly 100 adoptive families with lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parents, focusing on children that were both pre-school aged and in the middle of their childhood.
In an interview with MedicalResearch.com Farr said there were few behavioural problems overall, regardless of whether the children were adopted by lesbian mothers, gay fathers, or heterosexual parents.
“Any adjustment among children, parents, or couples were not different on the basis of parental sexual orientation,” she said.
“Rather, children’s behaviour problems were predicted by earlier child adjustment issues and parenting stress.
“There were no differences among these family types.”
She added that although parents showed more stress when children were school-aged, they were also satisfied in their couple relationships overall irrespective of their gender.
“When children were school-aged, parents reported high family functioning, with no differences among lesbian, gay, or heterosexual parent families,” she said.
“In these diverse adoptive families, as has been found in many other family forms, family processes appear to be more important than family structure to longitudinal child outcomes and family functioning.”
Both in Australia and abroad, parenting by lesbian and gay adults and the outcomes for their children are often brought up in debates around LGBTI rights.
Farr said it’s important to include research like hers in that dialogue.
“As sexual minority parents increasingly adopt children, research about child development, parenting, and family relationships is crucial for informing such debates,” she said.
“These findings are consistent with previous literature about families headed by LGBTI parents.
“The results have implications for advancing supportive policies, practices, and laws related to adoption and parenting by sexual minority adults.
“These findings may also help to move public debate forward about parenting and child outcomes across a diversity of family forms.”
Farr believes prospective parents shouldn’t be barred or limited from adopting based on their sexual orientation.
“There is no evidence indicating any reason prospective parents should be barred or limited from adopting based on their sexual orientation,” she said.
“All prospective adoptive parents should be rigorously screened before adopting children, regardless of sexual orientation.
“Given that children do well with lesbian and gay parents, adoption agencies would do well to reach out to this particular population of prospective adoptive parents.”