INSTITUTE STUDY FINDS ADOPTION BY GAYS AND LESBIANS `HOLDS PROMISE’ FOR CHILDREN
MEDIA ADVISORY: EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION A.M. FRIDAY 3/24/06
NEW YORK, March 23, 2006 – The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute released a new report today that finds there is no child-centered reason to prevent gays and lesbians from becoming adoptive parents, and recommends that they be utilized more extensively to provide permanent, loving homes for children living in state care across the country.
“Based on both the available research and growing experience,” the report concludes, “adoption by gays and lesbians holds promise as an avenue for achieving permanency for many of the waiting children in foster care.”
The Institute report – which is part of a larger, more extensive yearlong project that will be completed and released in several months – is intended to provide a research-based context for the ongoing debate in the United States over the adoption of children by gays and lesbians. Most important, the Institute seeks to develop information to help shape best practices that focus on providing boys and girls in the child welfare system with safe, committed and enduring families.
The principal findings of the report, which is entitled “Expanding Resources for Children,” are:
- Against a backdrop of increasing public acceptance, social science research concludes that children reared by gay and lesbian parents fare comparably to those of children raised by heterosexuals on a range of measures of social and psychological adjustment.
- Studies are growing in number and rigor, but the body of research on gay/lesbian parenting is relatively small and has methodological limitations. Still, virtually every valid study reaches the same conclusion: The children of gays and lesbians adjust positively and their families function well. The limited research on gay/lesbian adoption points in the same direction.
- Though few states have laws or policies explicitly barring homosexuals from adopting, some individual agencies and workers outside those states discriminate against gay and lesbian applicants based on their own biases or on mistaken beliefs that such prohibitions exist.
- Laws and policies that preclude adoption by gay or lesbian parents disadvantage the tens of thousands of children mired in the foster care system who need permanent, loving homes.
“The bottom line for those of us who advocate for children is clear,” said Adam Pertman, the Executive Director of the Adoption Institute. “There’s simply no credible research to indicate that children are harmed in any way when they’re adopted by gay and lesbian parents, but there’s lots of evidence to indicate that they do well in those homes. So, if we as a society believe that kids should be our primary concern, we have to put aside our prejudices and preconceived notions, and do the best we can for them.”
The Institute’s research examined the relevant issues, laws and practices relating to gay and lesbian adoption and parenting, and the available studies spanning the last several decades. It represents one of the broadest and most thorough reviews and analyses to date on the questions involved.
If the pool of available parents for waiting children is to be expanded to include gays and lesbians, the report recommends that child advocates and policy-makers take steps including:
- Move to end legal and de facto restrictions on adoption by gays and lesbians. This includes working to expand co-parent and second parent adoption, as well as revising agency policies and practices that may impede their consideration as an adoptive resource.
- Develop clear statements in support of such adoptions, recognizing a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach disadvantages parents and, ultimately, their children. And develop contacts with the gay/lesbian community in order to engage in genuine, informed outreach.
- Help workers, supervisors, and agency leaders examine their attitudes and beliefs about gay and lesbian parenting, while affirming the value of these families by including them in outreach, training materials, and parent panels.
- Conduct research to inform the development of resources, training, and support to improve post-adoption success. And work to include and educate children in the process, recognizing that they may encounter prejudice if adopted by gay parents.
The Adoption Institute is the pre-eminent research, policy and education organization in its field. Its mission is to provide leadership that improves laws, policies and practices – through sound research, education and advocacy – in order to better the lives of everyone touched by adoption. Because it is independent of any interest group or cause, the Institute has long been a source of accurate, unbiased information for journalists, researchers and policymakers.
The Institute’s current initiatives include ones on identity formation in adoption, ethics in adoption, siblings in adoption, improving policies for international adoptions, and establishing best practices for birthparents. Our award-winning website, www.adoptioninstitute.org, contains extensive information on a wide array of adoption-related issues.