Science-- there's something for everyone

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kids adopted by gay or lesbian couples do just fine

Here’s a result that should surprise no one. High-risk children who are adopted out of foster care by gay or lesbian couples fair just as well as kids adopted by heterosexual couples. This seems so obvious I shouldn’t have to explain the data, but of course, that’s not how science works. So, here it is:

Eighty-two children under age nine who underwent public adoptions in Los Angeles County were examined at two, twelve and twenty-four months post-adoption. Behavior and cognitive ability was assessed at each time point. The kids were also evaluated for differences in their background that could affect behavior or intelligence, such as prior neglect or prenatal substance exposure.

As expected, the kids from the gay households did not differ in any meaningful way from kids in straight households. This was true despite the fact that the children adopted by gay or lesbian couples often had significantly greater background risk factors. All the children benefited equally from adoption, as shown by an average gain of about 10 IQ points after leaving foster care. These data corroborate prior studies demonstrating that children raised by gay or lesbian parents are indistinguishable from those raised by heterosexual parents in attitude, behavior or gender-role development.

In the U.S., over a hundred thousand kids are currently awaiting adoption. Many of these kids have physical or mental health issues, often stemming from whatever landed them in foster care in the first place. Adoption can often mitigate these problems. By all means, let’s widen the pool of potential parents as much as possible. 

Lavner, J., Waterman, J., & Peplau, L. (2012). Can Gay and Lesbian Parents Promote Healthy Development in High-Risk Children Adopted From Foster Care? American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 82 (4), 465-472 DOI: 10.1111/j.1939-0025.2012.01176.x