More Tolerance for Gay Adoption; Study Says Children Do Equally Well in Homes

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At a time when more and more Americans approve of gay adoption, a recent report from UCLA psychologists says high-risk children adopted from foster care do equally well when placed with gay, lesbian or heterosexual parents.

"The children showed meaningful gains in heterosexual, gay and lesbian families," said Justin Lavner, a UCLA doctoral candidate in psychology and lead author of the study. "Their cognitive development improved substantially, while their behavior problems and social development were stable."

 The study is published in the October issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.

According to the PEW Research Center, the majority of Americans say gay and lesbian families are “at least OK — and might even bring something positive to society.”

But single mothers are less accepted, the poll found.

“There’s no doubt there’s been a shift in attitudes towards gays and lesbians,” Charlotte Patterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia told the PEW Research Center. “You also see the shift in attitudes towards marriage. Just 15 years ago a Gallup Poll found that 68 percent of Americans said gay marriage should not be legally recognized while 27 percent said it should be. Now the split is 50/50.”

“When we have contact with diverse types of people, attitudes change. You saw this with the integration of the military many years ago. When black and white soldiers worked toward a common aims, you saw attitudes change,” Patterson says.

Some experts say the rise in role models on television shows  such as  ‘Modern Family’ and in movies like The Kids are All Right, also has made the matter more acceptable.

In July the PEW Research Center released a report that said there has been a steady increase in support for allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children. In 1999, just 38% favored gay adoption while 57% were opposed. Today, 52% favor gay adoption while 42% are opposed. 

Like support for gay marriage, support for allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children has increased in recent years. There has been a 10-point increase in support since July 2006 (when 42% of the population supported allowing gays to adopt and 52% were opposed). Since 1999 there has been a 14-point increase in support.

“In many ways divisions in views about gay adoption mirror those of gay marriage. Both parties are split over allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children. While 85% of liberal Democrats favor gay adoption, 55% of conservative and moderate Democrats do so. Among Republicans, moderates and liberals are at least twice as likely as conservatives to favor gay adoption (53% vs. 23%).

“More women than men favor gay adoption (57% vs. 46%). And gay adoption is supported by more of those younger than 30 (67%) than any other age group.

“As with gay marriage, whites are more likely than African Americans to favor allowing gays to adopt (54% vs. 43%).  However, while Hispanics are more likely to support gay marriage than to oppose it, they are roughly evenly divided regarding gay adoption, with 44% in favor and 48% opposed.“

\According to the UCLA report, “At a time when tens of thousands of foster children lack stable homes and concerns about the suitability of gay and lesbian adoptive parents limit the pool of potential parents, the study indicates that gay and lesbian parents can provide nurturing homes for these children in a manner similar to that of heterosexual parents.There is no scientific basis to discriminate against gay and lesbian parents.”

Asked whether children need a mother and father, senior author Jill Waterman, a UCLA adjunct professor of psychology, said, "Children need people who love them, regardless of the gender of their parents."

 More than 100,000 children in foster care in the United States are awaiting adoption, said Lavner, who has a graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation. Adoption policies toward gay men and lesbians vary among the states. Every state allows single gay and lesbian parents to adopt, but not all states allow same-sex couples to adopt; California does.


Pew study: "Public Opinion on Gay Marriage: Opponents Consistently Outnumber Supporter" by David Masci, Senior Research Fellow, Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Visit your local library for more resources on this topic:

Adoption by Lesbians and Gay Men : A New Dimension in Family Diversity
David Brodzinsky, Adam Pertman, (2012).

Gender Issues and Sexuality : Essential Primary Sources
Brenda Wilmoth Lerner,  K. Lee Lerner, editors, (2006). Primary resource collection and readings.

Family in Society : Essential Primary Sources
 Brenda Wilmoth Lerner,  K. Lee Lerner, editors, (2006). Primary resource collection and readings.

J.  Stacey, E. Davenport,  "Queer Families Quack Back," in: D. Richardson & S. Seidman (Eds) Handbook of Lesbian and Gay Studies, (2002).



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Parents: Taken at the San Francisco Pride Parade by nerdcoregirl

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