No Difference in Behavioral Issues In Children Adopted By LGBT Parents & Heterosexual Parents
As more and more gay and lesbian parents adopt children, controversies continue regarding comparative parenting skills and the impact on the children.
For over a decade, University of Kentucky assistant professor of psychology Rachel H. Farr has studied different aspects of family life among heterosexual, gay and lesbian parents and their adopted children. Here are the main findings:
• Results indicated that adjustment among children, parents, and couples, as well as family functioning, were not different on the basis of parental sexual orientation (lesbian, gay, or heterosexual) when children were school-age. Rather, children’s behavior problems and family functioning during middle childhood were predicted by earlier child adjustment issues and parenting stress.
• Children are developing well over time, with few behavior problems overall, regardless of whether they were adopted by lesbian mothers, gay fathers, or heterosexual parents. No differences among these family types.
• Although parents showed more stress when children were school-age (versus preschool-age), they also were more satisfied in their couple relationships overall. No differences by family type.
• When children were elementary school-aged, parents reported relatively high family functioning. No differences among lesbian, gay, or heterosexual parent families.
• Because family structure did not appear to be related to child, parent, or family outcomes, we were interested in how other factors experienced by these families predicted adjustment over time. When parents were less stressed when children were younger (preschool-age), and when preschool-age children had fewer behavior problems, children had better overall adjustment 5 years later (when they were school-age). Furthermore, these same two factors (less parent stress and fewer child behavior problems when children were in preschool) predicted better overall family functioning 5 years later.
• Thus, in these diverse adoptive families, as has been found in many other family forms, family processes appear to be more important than family structure to longitudinal child outcomes and family functioning.