Lesbian and Gay Adoption

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Adoption by Lesbians and Gays:

A National Survey of Adoption Agency Policies, Practices, and Attitudes

ADOPTION BY LESBIANS AND GAYS:
A NATIONAL SURVEY OF
ADOPTION AGENCY POLICIES, PRACTICES, AND ATTITUDES
Funded by the Rainbow Endowment
David M. Brodzinsky, Ph.D.[i] and the Staff of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY2
INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE OF RESEARCH6
CHANGING NATURE OF ADOPTION PRACTICE6
BARRIERS TO ADOPTION BY LESBIANS AND GAYS7
RESEARCH ON PARENTING BY LESBIANS AND GAYS8
ADOPTION BY HOMOSEXUALS: AGENCY POLICIES AND PRACTICES10
GOALS OF THE STUDY12
METHODOLOGY12
SURVEY SAMPLE12
PROCEDURES AND RESEARCH FORMAT14
SURVEY RESULTS16
AGENCY CHARACTERISTICS16
NONPARTICIPANT CHARACTERISTICS19
AWARENESS OF ADOPTION LAW20
AGENCY POLICY REGARDING HOMOSEXUAL ADOPTION20
ACCEPTANCE OF ADOPTION APPLICATIONS FROM HOMOSEXUALS21
SEXUAL ORIENTATION INFORMATION COLLECTION22
REJECTION OF HOMOSEXUAL APPLICANTS24
PLACEMENT PRACTICES OF AGENCIES IN RELATION TO LESBIANS AND GAYS24 INFORMATION SHARING WITH PROSPECTIVE BIRTH PARENTS25
RECRUITMENT OF LESBIAN AND GAY ADOPTIVE PARENTS26
TRAINING IN WORKING WITH LESBIAN AND GAY PROSPECTIVE ADOPTERS28 ATTITUDES REGARDING ADOPTION AND PARENTING BY HOMOSEXUAL ADULTS29 DISCUSSION33
LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY38
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS39
AREAS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH42

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

ADOPTION BY GAYS AND LESBIANS:

NEW STUDY SHOWS MOST AGENCIES NOW ACCEPT HOMOSEXUALS AS PARENTS

Considerable controversy surrounds the issue of parenting by gays and lesbians, and it seems certain to escalate. It is a critical component of the debate over whether homosexuals should be permitted to marry, and it continues to divide policymakers in the United States – as well as in Canada and other countries – as they formulate laws and practices relating to workplace benefits, foster care, adoption, and an array of other important social and personal questions. Even as these discussions proliferate on the legislative and rhetorical levels, however, reality on the ground is outstripping the pace of the debate. That is, a growing number of lesbians and gay men are becoming parents and are living as families every day, irrespective of what the policymakers do or say. They are becoming mothers and fathers in many ways, but primarily through insemination, surrogacy and adoption. The latter alternative, which is becoming increasingly popular (though that fact is not generally publicized), provides critical insights into the cultural changes taking place in two major ways: demonstrating that the adoption of children by homosexuals is an ongoing, unabated practice; and showing that Americans’ attitudes are evolving – as reflected in the fact that more and more agencies are allowing openly gay and lesbian clients to adopt. Solid research, to help inform and shape the dialogue, has been lacking. There have been studies, for example, finding that homosexuals’ parenting capacity and their children’s outcomes are comparable to those of heterosexuals. But little is known about two pivotal aspects of the process: What are adoption agency policies and practices toward prospective adoptive parents who are gay or lesbian? And to what extent are agencies placing children with homosexuals? In an attempt to address these issues and to promote a more informed dialogue on this topic, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute – funded by a generous grant from the Rainbow Endowment – conducted a systematic, nationwide analysis of whether agencies work with lesbian and gay prospective adoptive parents, the extent to which agencies place children with them, and agency staff attitudes regarding adoption by homosexuals. The most sweeping conclusion that comes out of the research is simply that adoption agencies are...
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