Parenting and Child Development in Adoptive Families: Does Parental Sexual Orientation Matter?

By Rachel H. Farr, Stephen L. Forssell, Charlotte J. Patterson*
July 2010

This study, funded by Williams Institute, investigated child development and parenting in 106 families headed by 27 lesbian, 29 gay, and 50 heterosexual couples with young adopted children. Parents and teachers reported that, on average, children were developing in typical ways. 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. Implications for understanding the role of gender and sexual orientation in parenting, as well as for legal and policy debates, are discussed.

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*Charlotte J. Patterson is a former Visiting Scholar at the Williams Institute.

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