A long-term study of children adopted by gay and lesbian parents has found that the kids are well-adjusted through middle childhood, researchers say.Nearly 100 two-parent families were included in the study, half had gay or lesbian parents. All had adopted children. The kids were assessed at two points: at preschool age, then five years later.
The researchers found no differences between those with same-sex or heterosexual parents. The study focused on behavior problems, stress levels, couple relationships, family function and relationship adjustments over time.
“To the best of my knowledge this is the first study that has followed children adopted by lesbian, gay and heterosexual parents over time from early to middle childhood,” said study author Rachel Farr, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky.
“Longitudinal research [like this] offers insight into what factors may be the best or strongest predictors of children’s development, over and above information that can be gathered at only one time point,” she said in a university news release.
Whatever the parents’ sexual orientation, children in the study had fewer behavior problems over time if adoptive parents said they had less parenting stress, Farr noted.
“Higher family functioning when children were school-age was predicted by lower parenting stress and fewer child behavior problems when children were preschool-age,” she said.
Farr said these findings suggest that the family structure doesn’t seem to matter as much as the way a family functions.
These results support many positive outcomes among adoptive families headed by lesbian, gay or heterosexual parents over time, Farr said. This information may be useful in legal and policy realms, she added.
More than 4 percent of all adopted children in the United States — about 65,500 — have same-sex parents, so “the findings may also help to move public debate forward about parenting and child outcomes across a diversity of family forms,” Farr said.
The study was published online recently in the journal Developmental Psychology.
SOURCE: HealthDay News, Oct. 27, 2016; University of Kentucky, news release, Oct. 24, 2016