Friday, October 21, 2011

Adoptions by Gay Couples Tripled Over the Past Decade

I was just reading about a study that indicates that the number of gays and lesbians adopting children has nearly tripled over the past decade:
About 21,740 same-sex couples had adopted children in 2009, up from 6,477 in 2000, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. About 32,571 adopted children were living with same-sex couples in 2009, up from 8,310 in 2000. The figures are an analysis of newly released Census Bureau estimates.

The New York-based Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute released a report Thursday culminating a four-year project surveying 158 gay and lesbian parents and their experience with the adoption process. Their researchers found the highest number of homosexuals adopted children from Massachusetts, California, New York and Texas...

In the past, adoption was often an option only for wealthy gay families who could afford to adopt internationally or to pay a surrogate. Allowing gay couples to adopt from foster care, where health care and college is paid for, opens it up to more people, experts said. The study estimates about 50% of adoptive gay families adopt children from foster care...

According to the Adoption Institute, at least 60% of U.S. adoption agencies surveyed accept applications from non-heterosexual parents. Nearly 40% of agencies have knowingly placed children with gay families. About half the agencies surveyed reported a desire for staff training to work with such clients...

About a third of the adoptions by lesbians and gay men were "open," and the birth families' initial reactions regarding sexual orientation were very positive, according to the study.

At California's Independent Adoption Center, executive director Ann Wrixon has seen an increase in gay couples adopting. In the last five years, gay families have consistently made up about a third of the 200 adoptions a year.

While the number of gay couples adopting is increasing, the overall number of same-sex couples raising kids is actually declining, said Gary Gates, demographer at the Williams Institute. "The bulk of parenting among gay people is still people who had children at a young age with a different sex partner before they were out," Gates said.
That last paragraph is interesting.  Essentially, more gay and lesbian individuals and couples are adopting children, but fewer gay and lesbian people are creating children through heterosexual relationships earlier in life.  I assume that this is a result of gay and lesbian people from my generation and younger not experimenting heterosexually or getting into mixed-orientation marriages, hence fewer kids who are being creating by such relationships.

Mark and I have been foster parents/adoptive parents for slightly over a decade and have met many gay and lesbian parents during our journey.  In person, I've met many more gay and lesbian parents who have either adopted and become parents through IVF versus become parents through heterosexual relationships by probably a 5:1 ratio (totally non-scientific margin, by the way).  Online, it's been a bit more mixed.  I know some who have adopted as couples and others who've adopted as single parents.  But it's been an exciting time for all of us and I've met a lot of really great families during the past decade plus.

Hopefully, we will continue to see an increase in the numbers of gay and lesbian adoptive families as more couples learn about the potential for them becoming foster and adoptive parents and as more gay and lesbian couples get married and then pursue the next logical step: parenting.

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