For nearly 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. Her newest findings were published by the Developmental Psychology journal last week online.
This latest research focused on a longitudinal follow-up of 100 adoptive families as their school-age children matured from early to middle childhood. Farr found that the happiness and maturity of the children stemmed from open, communicative and honest parenting, regardless of family type.
“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,” Farr explained.
"Regardless of parental sexual orientation, children (in the study) had fewer behavior problems over time when their adoptive parents indicated experiencing less parenting stress. Higher family functioning when children were school-age was predicted by lower parenting stress and fewer child behavior problems when children were preschool-age. Thus, in these adoptive families diverse in parental sexual orientation, as has been found in many other family types, family processes emerged as more important than family structure to longitudinal child outcomes and family functioning."
The study took several factors into account (including behavior problems, stress levels, couple relationships and family functionality) and repeatedly found “no differences among [heterosexual and same-sex parent] family types.”
“These results, which support many positive outcomes among adoptive families headed by lesbian, gay or heterosexual parents over time, may be informative to legal, policy and practice realms,” Farr remarked.
Since research indicates that at least 65,500 adopted children, over 4 percent of all adopted children in the United States, have sexual minority parents, "the findings may also help to move public debate forward about parenting and child outcomes across a diversity of family forms," she added.
Luisa Fernanda Báez