More Evidence: Having Same-Sex Parents Is Unrelated to Child Adjustment

Dr. Abbie Goldberg

Dr. Abbie Goldberg

Yet another study has confirmed what many of us already know: having same-sex parents doesn’t predict how well-adjusted a child will be. This new study is notable, however, for looking at adopted children who were placed in their adoptive homes at a very young age.

The paper, “Predictors of Psychological Adjustment in Early Placed Adopted Children With Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Parents,” was co-authored by Williams Institute Visiting Scholar and Clark University Associate Professor of Psychology Abbie Goldberg and JuliAnna Z. Smith of the University of Massachusetts, and published in the Journal of Family Psychology. Their research examined 40 female couples, 35 male couples, and 45 different-sex couples with adopted children, all of whom were placed in their adoptive homes under the age of 18 months.

Using a standard psychological checklist of children’s emotional and behavioral problems, they found that, “As expected, family type was unrelated to children’s adjustment. This finding is consistent with earlier work, and provides support for arguments that prospective adopters should not be discriminated against, in policy or practice, based on sexual orientation.”

The age at which the child was placed was also not a factor (likely because they were all placed so young).

What did negatively impact a child’s adjustment were less preparedness for the adoption on the part of the parents, greater conflict in the parent’s relationship, and greater depression in the parents.

Many of us may roll our eyes at the obviousness of the above findings. Out same-sex parents have been raising children for over 40 years; probably longer than that if one includes closeted parents. As many as six million American children and adults have an LGBT parent. If our kids tended to end up maladjusted, one would think the trend would have been spotted by now.

Nevertheless, this is still not obvious to many, and studies like that of Goldberg and Smith are invaluable for helping to convince healthcare practitioners, educators, policy makers, and others.

Goldberg is the author of many other papers on gay- and lesbian-headed families, as well as the books Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children and Gay Dads: Transitions to Adoptive Fatherhood. I particularly like the former book, which codifies much of her own research and that of others. Let’s hope she continues to contribute to people’s understanding of our families.

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