Adoption and Same-Sex Couples: Basics

Gays and lesbians have adopted children in the past but in majority of the cases, their sexual orientation was not in the open. Today gays and lesbians are seriously considered as prospective adoptive parents. The changes in reproductive medical technology have made it easier for same sex couples to have biological children.

The number of same sex biological parents in 1976 was between 300,000 and half a million. In 1990 the number was estimated to be between 6 and 14 million. The number of children bring raised by same sex couples range between 8 and 10 million. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services in 1999 there were over half a million child in foster care of which a little over a 100,000 were legally free for adoption. However qualified adoptive parents were available for only 20% of these children. An estimated 10% of the population of the United States is homosexual. These numbers make it unrealistic to exclude gay and lesbians from adopting children.

Despite the number of gay and lesbian parents increasing, social workers are a little reluctant when considering same sex couples as adoptive parents. They are worried about how the children will be raised by same sex couples and how the children will feel about the fact that they are being raised by a same sex couple while other children have heterosexual parents. The children may be subject to taunts by other children. The social workers also worry about the impact same sex parenting can have on the child’s life at a later stage.

The Status of Gay and Lesbian Parenting

It can be a very challenging task to define the family structure when the parents are a same sex couple. In most cases, the same sex couples have biological children from their former heterosexual partners and then started the new family with their same sex partner. Single gay men and lesbian women have also had children with couples or have used reproductive technology to have children. While there have been research on same sex parents, most research is confined to children born using various reproductive technology to same sex couples or children of born from a heterosexual relationship but raised by a gay or lesbian parent. The research has not dealt with the issue of adoption by same sex couples but social workers often use this information when dealing with same sex adoption. The best way to determine the results of same sex parenting is to go through the testimony of children raised by same sex parents.

Often groups with vested interests or linked to religious or conservative political groups have conducted research studies that show the negative impact of same sex parenting. While the studies conducted by groups supporting gay rights tend to focus on the pros of same sex parenting. What is required is a detailed long term research into the impact of same sex adoption on a large number of children.

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