Monday, 4 March 2013

A timely piece of research during LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week

Today marks the start of national LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week. 

Portentous, then, that today also sees the release of a report from British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) comparing the experiences of and approaches to parenting of same-sex parents and their heterosexual counterparts.

The research, carried out by Cambridge University’s Centre for Family Research, confirms that the adopted children of same-sex parents are thriving.

The report examines the experiences of 130 adoptive families, comprising 49 heterosexual couples, 41 gay men and 40 lesbian parents.  Their children were aged between four and eight.  The study focussed on family relationships, how parents coped and how children adjusted. 

The conclusion reached is that same-sex adoptive parents are raising children just as successfully as heterosexual ones.  Gay men are found to be faring particularly well in managing the parenting challenges presented by children who have had negative and damaging experiences in early life.  There was no evidence to support speculation that children's masculine or feminine tendencies were affected by having gay or lesbian parents.  Family life and the quality of relationships were very similar for children regardless of their parents' sexual orientation. 

Professor Susan Golombok, the report’s co-author, commented on the results:  Overall we found markedly more similarities than differences in experiences between family types.” Quoted in Sunday’s Independent, she added:  "What I don't like is when people make assumptions that a certain type of family, such as gay fathers, will be bad for children. The anxieties about the potentially negative effects for children of being placed with gay fathers seem to be, from our study, unfounded."

The report rather puts paid to antediluvian views like those expressed by Welsh Secretary, David Jones, last month, following his claim that gay couples "clearly" could not provide a "warm and safe environment for the upbringing of children".  Not that I suspect an evidence-based approach would disabuse him, and people like him, of their prejudices.

Speaking on the eve of LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week, the Government’s adoption adviser, Sir Martin Narey, urged more LGBT adopters and fosterers to come forward.  "I have seen how LGBT people, who tend to come to adoption as their first choice for becoming parents, bring determination and enthusiasm to it.  Many more gay adopters need to be encouraged to come forward.”

On current figures, about 4,000 children are waiting for adoptive families, and a further 9,000 need foster carers.  These figures are increasing annually.  At present, each year only about 60 gay couples and 60 lesbian couples adopt. 
Some thirty events are scheduled around the country to encourage LGBT individuals to become adopters and fosterers. 

LGBT people interested in adoption or fostering should consider attending an event near to them during the week.  Alternatively, they should contact the Social Services Team at their Local Authority to register their interest, obtain information and start the assessment process.

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