And last Monday Jan. But research on families headed by gays and lesbians doesn't back up these dire assertions. In fact, in some ways, gay parents may bring talents to the table that straight parents don't.
Gay parents "tend to be more motivated, more committed than heterosexual parents on average, because they chose to be parents," said Abbie Goldberg, a psychologist at Clark University in Massachusetts who researches gay and lesbian parenting. Gays and lesbians rarely become parents by accident, compared with an almost 50 percent accidental pregnancy rate among heterosexuals, Goldberg said. Not only that, but gays and lesbians are likely to provide homes for difficult-to-place children in the foster system, studies show.
Of course, this isn't to say that heterosexual parents can't bring these same qualities to the parenting table. Rather than comply, Catholic Charities closed up shop. Catholic opposition aside, research suggests that gay and lesbian parents are actually a powerful resource for kids in need of adoption.
According to a report by the Williams Institute and the Urban Institute, 65, kids were living with adoptive gay parents between and , with another 14, in foster homes headed by gays and lesbians. There are currently more than , kids in foster care in the U. An October report by Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute found that, of gay and lesbian adoptions at more than 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. The report didn't compare the adoption preferences of gay couples directly with those of heterosexual couples, said author David Brodzinsky, research director at the Institute and co-editor of "Adoption By Lesbians and Gay Men: 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. No matter how you slice it, Brodzinsky told LiveScience, gays and lesbians are highly interested in adoption as a group. The report by the Urban Institute also found that more than half of gay men and 41 percent of lesbians in the U. 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. In addition, Brodzinsky said, there's evidence to suggest that gays and lesbians are especially accepting of open adoptions, where the child retains some contact with his or her birth parents.
And the statistics bear out that birth parents often have no problem with their kids being raised by same-sex couples , he added. Good parenting 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.
In a review of virtually every study on gay parenting, New York University sociologist Judith Stacey and University of Southern California sociologist Tim Biblarz found no differences between children raised in homes with two heterosexual parents and children raised with lesbian parents.
There is very little research on the children of gay men, so Stacey and Biblarz couldn't draw conclusions on those families.
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.
Most lesbians use donor sperm to have a child, so one mother is biological and the other is not, which could create conflict because one mother may feel closer to the kid.
Two good parents are better than one good parent, Stacey said, but one good parent is better than two bad parents. And gender seems to make no difference. While you do find broad differences between how men and women parent on average, she said, there is much more diversity within the genders than between them. In a paper published in in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Goldberg conducted in-depth interviews with 46 adults with at least one gay parent.
Twenty-eight of them spontaneously offered that they felt more open-minded and empathetic than people not raised in their situation. One year-old man with a lesbian mother told Goldberg, "I feel I'm a more open, well-rounded person for having been raised in a nontraditional family, and I think those that know me would agree. My mom opened me up to the positive impact of differences in people. That's likely because gays and lesbians tend to have more egalitarian relationships than straight couples, Goldberg said.
They're also less wedded to rigid gender stereotypes themselves. That would be the disadvantage. In a study published online Jan. Most cited legal benefits as well as social acceptance.