Get this: parental stress levels and skills matter more to their adopted kids' development than the parents' sexuality. Meanwhile, the fictional lesbian parents on The Kids Are All Right are pissing some people off.
A recent study found that the children of lesbian parents may actually be better-adjusted despite their tragic lack of a male parent. Now comes another, wide-ranging study of 106 adoptive families, roughly half of which were gay or lesbian parented, involved input from teachers as well as parents — a relatively new data source in such studies. The result:
Measures of children's adjustment, parenting approaches, parenting stress, and couple relationship adjustment were not significantly associated with parental sexual orientation. However, several family process variables—parenting stress, parenting approaches, and couple relationship adjustment—were found to be significantly associated with children's adjustment, regardless of parental sexual orientation.
In other words, the evidence suggests that potential adoptive parents should be evaluated on the basis of whether they might make good parents, not whether or not they are into opposite marriage. Seems simple, right?
Too bad the law doesn't reflect that in several states. As The Washington Post notes, "Same-sex couples are barred from adopting children in Florida, Mississippi and Utah. A similar case is in the Arkansas courts."
And gay parents who take in foster children can face a markedly more difficult path to adoption, as illustrated by a West Virginia case documented by The New York Times magazine last year, in which a court-appointed attorney for a foster child filed a motion to "remove child from physical placement in homosexual home," because, he claimed, children raised by gays are more likely to be abused or become gay. "As in so many states around the country, in the absence of a firm policy, individual social workers, agencies and attorneys still make decisions about who can and cannot be a foster or adoptive parent," the piece noted.
Speaking of representations of gay parenting (through sperm donation, not adoption), The Kids Are All Right, which could help normalize gay parenting in the minds of the unconvinced, "is the largest release ever for a mainstream film about lesbians and is on track to become one of the highest performing indie films of 2010," according to GLAAD. But as predicted, not everyone is pleased about the film. Their roundup of reactions include a small, but very upset contingent of lesbian commentators who are annoyed at the "lesbian just wants a guy" implications they see in the movie.
But at least everyone agrees they seem like pretty good parents! And that the title is true to reality, mostly.
Study: Same-Sex Couples Can Thrive As Adoptive Parents [Washington Post]
Differing LGBT Views About The Kids Are All Right [GLAAD]
Related: The Battle Over A Baby [NYT]