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Aiming to Increase Families for `Waiting’ Children, Institute Releases New Research on Gay/Lesbian Adoption and Recommends Best Practices

Posted by Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute on with 0 Comments

NEW YORK, October 20, 2011 – Despite laws in some states that impede the practice, a growing number of lesbians and gay men are adopting children in the United States – at least half of them providing families for boys and girls from foster care and 60% adopting transracially, according to the results of an extensive new survey by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

The survey is part of a broad, four-year-long research project by the Adoption Institute that culminates in the publication today of a 68-page report, “Expanding Resources for Children III: Research-Based Best Practices in Adoption by Gays and Lesbians,” which provides important new information about and insights into the perceptions, experiences and needs of non-heterosexual adoptive parents. 

“We know the majority of adoption agencies readily work with gay and lesbian clients, and our research shows that most want guidance about how best to do that,” said Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Adoption Institute. “Our hope and belief is that by providing greater knowledge to professionals, policy-makers and the public, the result will be more families for the children who need them.”

In addition to the statistics cited above, major (and interesting) findings in the Institute’s report include:

  • About one-third of the adoptions by lesbians and gay men in our new survey were “open,” and the birth families’ initial reactions regarding sexual orientation were very positive (73%). Interestingly, male couples more often reported being chosen because of sexual orientation than did lesbians, saying birthmothers expressed a desire to remain the child’s “only mother.”
  • Over 10% of the children adopted were 6 or older – a population generally perceived as more difficult to place – and 25% were at least 3 years old. Interestingly, the household incomes of respondents were high – and more so for the male parents, $212,380 vs. $115,467, indicating (among other things) that more lesbians adopted as individuals and more gay men as couples.    

Among the report’s recommendations, primarily intended for practitioners and policy-makers, are:

  • Remove legal and cultural barriers so that all qualified, vetted prospective parents can be considered, notably including the passage of “gay marriage” laws, because the social institution of marriage brings clear long-term psychological (and other benefits) to children.
  • Provide training, recruitment and educational tools to increase professional competence for working with non-heterosexual parents, and offer pre- and post-placement services to better enable those parents to deal with adoption issues and those relating to their sexual orientation.

 “Expanding Resources for Children III” is being published just days before another major research-based report, “All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families.” That report, which is being endorsed by several child welfare organizations including the Adoption Institute, is being released next week at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. The report will be available on 10/25 at www.lgbtmap.org/lgbt-families.

 The components of the Adoption Institute’s “Expanding Resources for Children” report included an extensive review of adoption practice literature and research on gay and lesbian family life, a national survey of gay/lesbian adoptive parents, a separate national survey of adoption agency practices (which informed this report but the results of which are still being analyzed and not included here), and an  interdisciplinary book entitled Adoption by Lesbians and Gay Men: A New Dimension in Family Diversity, edited by Institute staff members David Brodzinsky and Adam Pertman

 The report also draws from and follows up on three previous publications of the Adoption Institute in this same realm: 1). Adoption by Lesbians and Gays: A National Survey of Adoption Agency Policies, Practices and Attitudes (2003); 2). Expanding Resources for Children: Is Adoption by Gays and Lesbians Part of the Answer for Boys and Girls who Need Homes (2006); and 3). Expanding Resources for Children II: Eliminating Legal and Practice Barriers to Gays and Lesbians Adopting from Foster Care (2008). In addition, it is informed by the work of the Human Rights Campaign, the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, and Dr. Gary Mallon of Hunter College, among others.

 The background for the new report includes these findings from the Institute’s past works:

  • Lesbians and gay men adopt at significant rates, with over 65,000 adopted and 14,000 foster children in the U.S. residing in homes headed by non-heterosexuals. Children growing up in such households show similar patterns of adjustment as those raised by heterosexuals.
  • At least 60% of U.S. adoption agencies accept non-heterosexual parental applicants, and almost 40% have knowingly placed children with them – meaning almost any lesbian, gay man, or same-sex couple can find a professional to work with them.

 For more details about “Expanding Resources for Children III” or to schedule an interview, please contact Pertman at 617-763-0134 or .

 The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute is the pre-eminent research, policy and education organization in its field. Its mission is to provide leadership – through sound research – that improves the lives of everyone touched by adoption. Its award-winning website is www.adoptioninstitute.org.

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