Gay couples as fit to adopt as heterosexuals: study

NEW YORK Fri Sep 25, 2009 10:40am EDT

Pop singer Elton John kisses baby Lev during a news conference at a hospital for HIV-positive children in the town of Makeyevka outside Donetsk, September 12, 2009. The singer announced during the news conference that he and his partner are eager to adopt Lev though they have never thought of an idea of the adoption before. REUTERS/Handout

Pop singer Elton John kisses baby Lev during a news conference at a hospital for HIV-positive children in the town of Makeyevka outside Donetsk, September 12, 2009. The singer announced during the news conference that he and his partner are eager to adopt Lev though they have never thought of an idea of the adoption before.

Credit: Reuters/Handout

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Gay or straight, the sexual orientation of adoptive parents does not have an impact on the emotional development of their children, according to a new study.

But researchers said that if parents were satisfied with the adoption process, had a stable income and functioned well as a family the risk of emotional problems in children were reduced.

"We found that sexual orientation of the adoptive parents was not a significant predictor of emotional problems," Paige Averett, an assistant professor of social work at East Carolina University, said in a statement.

"We did find, however, that age and pre-adoptive sexual abuse were," she added.

Averett, Blace Nalavany, also of East Carolina University, and Scott Ryan, dean of the University of Texas School of Social Work, questioned nearly 1,400 couples in the United States, including 155 gay and lesbian parents.

They used information from Florida's public child welfare system and data from gay and lesbian couples throughout the U.S. for the study.

Each couple was questioned about themselves and their children, the family composition and dynamics, and the history of the child before the adoption.

The researchers said the findings, which are reported in the journal Adoption Quarterly, are important because it compared gay and lesbian and heterosexual couples.

"There are implications for social work educators, adoption professionals, and policy makers in this and other recent studies," said Averett.

"We must pay attention to the data indicating that gay and lesbian parents are as fit as heterosexual parents to adopt," Averett added, "because at least 130,000 children are depending on us to act as informed advocates on their behalf."

The American Civil Liberties Union has said that laws and adoption agency policies have created obstacles for gay and lesbian couple who want to adopt children.

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney, editing by Paul Casciato)

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