Thursday, January 19, 2012
Why Gay Parents May Be the Best Parents
Gays and lesbians rarely become parents by accident, compared with an almost 50 percent accidental pregnancy rate among heterosexuals, Goldberg said. "That translates to greater commitment on average and more involvement."
Gay adoption recently caused controversy in Illinois, where Catholic Charities adoption services decided in November to cease offering services because the state refused funding unless the groups agreed not to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Rather than comply, Catholic Charities closed up shop.
An October 2011 report by Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute found that, of gay and lesbian adoptions at more than 300 agencies, 10 percent of the kids placed were older than 6 — typically a very difficult age to adopt out.
About 25 percent were older than 3. Sixty percent of gay and lesbian couples adopted across races, which is important given that minority children in the foster system tend to linger. More than half of the kids adopted by gays and lesbians had special needs.
But research suggests that gays and lesbians are more likely than heterosexuals to adopt older, special-needs and minority children, he said.
Part of that could be their own preferences, and part could be because of discrimination by adoption agencies that puts more difficult children with what caseworkers see as "less desirable" parents.
The 2007 report by the Urban Institute also found that more than half of gay men and 41 percent of lesbians in the U.S. would like to adopt.
That adds up to an estimated 2 million gay people who are interested in adoption. It's a huge reservoir of potential parents who could get kids out of the instability of the foster system, Brodzinsky said.
And the statistics bear out that birth parents often have no problem with their kids being raised by same-sex couples, he added.
Research has shown that the kids of same-sex couples — both adopted and biological kids — fare no worse than the kids of straight couples on mental health, social functioning, school performance and a variety of other life-success measures.
"There's no doubt whatsoever from the research that children with two lesbian parents are growing up to be just as well-adjusted and successful" as children with a male and a female parent," Stacey told LiveScience.
But Stacey suspects that gay men "will be the best parents on average," she said.
That's a speculation, she said, but if lesbian parents have to really plan to have a child, it's even harder for gay men. Those who decide to do it are thus likely to be extremely committed, Stacey said. Gay men may also experience fewer parenting conflicts, she added.
"With gay men, you don't have that factor," she said. "Neither of them gets pregnant, neither of them breast-feeds, so you don't have that asymmetry built into the relationship."
The bottom line, Stacey said, is that people who say children need both a father and a mother in the home are misrepresenting the research, most of which compares children of single parents to children of married couples.
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