New Adoption Study: Parent’s Orientation to Kids More Important than Sexual Orientation

Charlotte Patterson

From the “not that those of us here needed proof, but it’s good to have” files, a new study from the University of Virginia has found that the adoptive children of same-sex parents were on average “developing in typical ways.”

“We found that children adopted by lesbian and gay couples are thriving,” said U.Va. psychology professor Charlotte J. Patterson, who led the study. Her research used standardized procedures to assess a sample of 106 preschool-age children across the country who had been adopted at birth by same- or opposite-sex couples. She found that whether or not the children were well adjusted and developing in positive ways was unrelated to the sexual orientation of their adoptive parents.

Patterson’s work supports that of Drs. Nanette Gartrell and Henny Bos, whose National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS) has looked at biological children of lesbian parents, and Dr. Abbie Goldberg, whose research covers both biological and adoptive parents. (Goldberg’s book, Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children, compiles and synthesizes decades of research by herself and others.) All of the researchers conclude that children of same-sex parents are as well adjusted as any others—the NLLFS and Goldberg even found they may have advantages in some areas. (We should be careful not to take that too far, however.)

Patterson’ study also concludes what many other studies have found—but it bears repeating (my emphasis): “Regardless of their parents’ sexual orientation, how well children were adjusted was significantly associated with how warmly their parents were oriented to them.”

The results appear in the August issue of the journal Applied Developmental Science.

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