Parenting and Child Development in Adoptive Families: Does Parental Sexual Orientation Matter?

A pressing question regarding the effectiveness of certain adoptive parents has increasingly found its way into courtrooms, resulting in legal proceedings and heated custody battles: Does a couple’s sexual orientation have an impact on their children’s development?

To help find out, researchers from the University of Virginia and George Washington University conducted an investigation of 106 families, nearly half of which were headed by gay or lesbian parents. Their conclusion: Children adopted by same-sex couples were able to grow and function at similar rates as those raised in heterosexual households.

The study, which mirrors findings from a recent study about lesbian mothers, looked at correlations between child behavior/gender role problems and various parental characteristics. While parenting approaches and family stress showed an effect on children’s adjustment, sexual orientation did not. Overall, quality of care is much more of an influence in children’s lives than is family structure, the report says.

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