There is no rational, child-welfare basis for denying parenting to gay men and lesbians.
Every major national child welfare organization has made multiple statements that make it clear they support same-sex couples, as well as single gay men and lesbians, as suitable for raising children. They also have stated that same-sex couples should not be excluded from adopting or fostering youth.
The following are representative statements from mainstream, respected, American organizations that support equal treatment, regardless of orientation.
“First, homosexuality is not a psychological disorder. Although exposure to prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation may cause acute distress, there is no reliable evidence that homosexual orientation per se impairs psychological functioning. Second, beliefs that lesbian and gay adults are not fit parents have no empirical foundation. Lesbian and heterosexual women have not been found to differ markedly in their approaches to child rearing. Members of gay and lesbian couples with children have been found to divide the work involved in childcare evenly, and to be satisfied with their relationships with their partners. The results of some studies suggest that lesbian mothers’ and gay fathers’ parenting skills may be superior to those of matched heterosexual parents. There is no scientific basis for concluding that lesbian mothers or gay fathers are unfit parents on the basis of their sexual orientation. On the contrary, results of research suggest that lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children.”
— American Psychological Association
Sexual Orientation, Parents, & Children
Policy Statement Adopted by the APA Council of Representatives July 28 & 30, 2004
“Children who are born to or adopted by 1 member of a same-sex couple deserve the security of 2 legally recognized parents. Therefore, the American Academy of Pediatrics supports legislative and legal efforts to provide the possibility of adoption of the child by the second parent or coparent in these families.
“Children deserve to know that their relationships with both of their parents are stable and legally recognized. This applies to all children, whether their parents are of the same or opposite sex. The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes that a considerable body of professional literature provides evidence that children with parents who are homosexual can have the same advantages and the same expectations for health, adjustment, and development as can children whose parents are heterosexual. When 2 adults participate in parenting a child, they and the child deserve the serenity that comes with legal recognition.”
— American Academy of Pediatrics
Coparent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents
Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health - 2002. Reaffirmed May 2009
“Legislation legitimizing second-parent adoptions in same-sex households should be supported. Legislation seeking to restrict foster care and adoption by gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people should be vigorously opposed.”
“Funding of foster care and adoption services should guarantee high-quality services to all children, regardless of their race, ethnicity, language, capabilities, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, geographic location, or socioeconomic status. Additional recruitment alternatives are needed for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender adolescents for whom existing resources are not accepting or are inadequate, such as family foster care using gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender adults as foster parents and group homes designed specifically for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender adolescents. Recruitment efforts should be made to bring families in the child welfare system who are willing to be trained to work with this population and also who are willing to adopt.”
— National Association of Social Workers
Foster Care and Adoption
February 12, 2009
“Indeed, the scientific research that has directly compared outcomes for children with gay and lesbian parents with outcomes for children with heterosexual parents has been remarkably consistent in showing that lesbian and gay parents are every bit as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents.”
— “American Psychological Association
in 2008 Friend of the Court brief for the legal marriage suit of Varnum v. Brien.
“While respecting the church’s right to its opinion, it has become increasingly hard to demonstrate what harm might come from gay adoptions. Many studies, including a 2004 article in the journal Child Development, research from 2002 by the Child Welfare League of America, and a major survey in 1995 by the American Psychological Association all conclude that children brought up by single-sex couples were virtually identical to other children in academic performance, socialization, and sexual orientation. One study indicated a very slightly greater willingness by girls brought up by lesbian parents to ignore gender stereotypes and seek training as doctors, lawyers, and engineers. The Vatican may be moved in part by Massachusetts’ legalization of single-sex marriages, but again, with the law in effect for more than 21 months, the institution of heterosexual marriage has survived quite well.”
— “Adoption and Doctrine,” Boston Globe editorial, March 11, 2006
“Anyone who wishes to examine the 20 years of peer-reviewed studies on the emotional, cognitive and behavioral outcomes of children of gay and lesbian parents will find not one shred of evidence that children are harmed by their parents’ sexual orientation.
“The empirical and clinical evidence suggesting same-sex parents are equivalent to heterosexual parents in their ability to care for children and provide loving homes is so compelling that there is a growing consensus among legal and child welfare experts that there is no rational basis to deny adoption to gay and lesbian couples solely on the basis of their sexual orientation.”
— Carol J. Trust, executive director, National Association of Social Workers,
Massachusetts chapter, and Mark Gianino, licensed social worker
“Bad-faith pitch for bigotry,” Boston Herald, Massachusetts, March 11, 2006
—————— Child Welfare League of America|
“All applicants [for adoption] should have an equal opportunity to apply for the adoption of children, and receive fair and equal treatment and consideration of their qualifications as adoptive parents, under applicable law.
“Applicants should be fairly assessed on their abilities to successfully parent a child needing family membership and not on their appearance, differing lifestyle, or sexual preference.
“Agencies should assess each applicant from the perspective of what would be in the best interests of the child. Those interests are paramount.
“Sexual preference should not be the sole criteria on which the suitability of adoptive applicants is based. Consideration should be given to other personality and maturity factors and on the ability of.the applicant to meet the specific needs of the individual child. The needs of the child are the priority consideration in adoption.
“Gay/lesbian adoptive applicants should be assessed the same as any other adoptive applicant. It should be recognized that sexual orientation and the capacity to nurture a child are separate issues. Staff and board training on cultural diversity should include factual information about gays and lesbians as potential adoptive resources for children needing families in order to dispel common myths about gays and lesbians.
“Gay and lesbian applicants should be informed that biological parents are told about potential adoptive families for their child, including the sexual orientation of the prospective adoptive parent(s). Some biological parents may choose not to consider gay or lesbian families, and agencies usually follow the expressed wishes of the parent.”
— Standards Regarding Sexual Orientation of Applicants, 1988
———————— Child Welfare League of America|
Guiding Adoption Principles of Child Welfare Agencies Nationwide
“Public and private child welfare agencies approach their adoption work with a shared vision and mission, articulated in what is essentially the ‘industry standards’ in adoption, produced by the nation’s oldest and largest children’s group. These 166-page standards are rooted in a statement of core values, which follows.
“Core Values and Assumptions Underlying Adoption Services
“Given the complexity of the broader societal context in which adoption practice now occurs, it is especially important to reaffirm the fundamental values that provide a framework for professional adoption services. The core values listed below form the foundation for the ethical development and delivery of adoption services.
— Standards of Excellence for Adoption Services (Revised Edition), 2000
- All children have a right to receive care, protection, and love.
- The family is the primary means by which children are provided with the essentials for their well-being.
- The birth family constitutes the preferred means of providing family life for children.
- When adoption is the plan for a child, the extended family should be supported as the first option for adoptive placement, if appropriate.
- Adoption as a child welfare service should be focused on meeting the needs of children to become full and permanent members of families.
- All children are adoptable.
- Siblings should be placed together in adoption unless serious reason necessitate their separation.
- Adoption is a life long experience that has a unique impact on all the parties involved.
- Adoption should validate and assist children in developing their individual, cultural, ethnic, and racial identity, and should enhance their self-esteem.
- All adoption services should be based on principles of respect, honesty, self-determination, informed decision-making, and open communication.
- All applicants for services should be treated in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner.
- Changes in adoption practice, policy, and law demand professional expertise to assist birth families, adoptive families, and adopted individuals.
- The knowledge, skill, and experience of professional social workers should be used in developing and providing all aspects of adoption services.
- The practice of adoption, currently and in the future, will require collaboration if all parties in an adoption are to be served effectively.”
Specific Criteria for Assessing Children’s Needs
“Children’s needs and best interests are not as subjective as the debate over gay parenting may make it seem. They’re assessed using specific criteria, which vary but are generally based on the same basic principles. In addition to psychiatric and medical testing, there are specific ways that child welfare agencies assess children’s circumstances and needs — and based on those findings, eventually place them with adoptive parents who are best suited to help them grow into healthy, productive adults. Following is part of the criteria laid out in the ‘industry standards’ in adoption, produced by the nation’s oldest and largest children’s group.
Assessment of Children
The comprehensive assessment of a child prior to adoptive placement serves to identify the unique needs and strengths of the child and the type of family that will be best able to provide a safe and nurturing permanent family for the child.
Assessment and History Gathering
The agency providing adoption services should conduct a comprehensive assessment of those children for whom the permanency plan is adoption. The assessment should encompass any information required to be collected and disclosed by state law, as well as the child’s and birth family’s health and background information.
At a minimum, the following health and background information should be collected and disclosed to prospective adoptive parents:
As available, the child’s current medical, dental, developmental, and psychological history, including an account of the child’s prenatal care, medical condition at birth, and developmental milestones; any drugs or medications taken by the child’s birth parents during pregnancy; any prior medical, psychological, or psychiatric examinations and diagnoses of the child; any physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect suffered by the child; any developmental assessments reflecting deviations from typical development; the child’s current developmental level; and a record of any immunizations and health care received while in out-of-home or other care.
Relevant information concerning the medical or mental health history of the child’s birth parents, siblings, and relatives, including multiple generations whenever possible; any known disease or hereditary predisposition to disease; age and cause of death of close relatives of the birth parents; any
notably positive health findings such as longevity; any addiction by birth
family members to drugs or alcohol; the health of the child’s mother during
her pregnancy; and the health of each parent at the time of the child’s birth.
Relevant information concerning the social history of the child, including:
— Standards of Excellence for Adoption Services (Revised Edition), 2000
- the child’s personality and temperament, including sensitivities, likes and dislikes, and special aptitudes and interests, particularly for the older child;
- the child’s enrollment and performance in school, results of educational testing, and any special educational needs;
- any significant events that could affect the child’s capacity to relate to a new family;
- an account of the child’s past and existing relationships with any individuals with whom the child has regularly lived or visited;
- any history related to the child’s placement in out-of-home care, including reason for placement, attachments and moves prior to placement,
length of time in care, type of care (family foster care, group care, residential treatment), number of placements and reasons for re-placements;
- letters, pictures, videotapes, gifts, etc., from the birth family for the child; and
- reasons for the child’s adoptive placement. Relevant information concerning the social history of the child’s parents, siblings, and other relatives, including:
- the family’s racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious background, and a general description of the child’s parents, siblings, and other close relatives, if known (to include a photograph of the child’s parents whenever possible);
- specific information on the child’s racial, ethnic, or cultural background if distinct from that of other members of the family;
- relationship of the parents and their reason(s) for selecting adoption as a plan;
- tribal affiliation of an American Indian family, as well as other information needed to clarify the legal status of such children and the tribal jurisdiction regarding their adoption;
- level of educational attainment of birth parents and siblings of the child, if any, including information about any known learning disabilities;
- special skills, interests, or aptitudes;
- specific accomplishments of the birth parents or other members of the birth family;
- employment and/or vocational information of the birth parents;
- any background information related to criminal convictions for a felony, previous judicial orders terminating parental rights, or substantial reports of child abuse or neglect; and
- any long-term history of multiple generations that provides a picture of the birth family over time.”
———————— North American Council on Adoptable Children
“Everyone with the potential to successfully parent a child in foster
care or adoption is entitled to fair and equal consideration regardless
of sexual orientation or differing life style or physical appearance.”
— March 14, 1998
———————— American Academy of Pediatrics
1) “Children deserve to know that their relationships with both of their parents are stable and legally recognized. This applies to all children, whether their parents are of the same or opposite sex. The.American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes that a considerable body of professional literature provides evidence that children with parents who are homosexual can have the same advantages and the same expectations for health, adjustment, and development as can children whose parents are heterosexual. When two adults participate in parenting a child, they and the child deserve the serenity that comes with legal recognition.
“Children born or adopted into families headed by partners who are of the same sex usually have only one biologic or adoptive legal parent. The other partner in a parental role is called the ‘co-parent’ or ‘second parent.’ Because these families and children need the permanence and security that are provided by having two fully sanctioned and legally defined parents, the Academy supports the legal adoption of children by co-parents or second parents. Denying legal parent status through adoption to co-parents or second parents prevents these children from enjoying the psychological and legal security that comes from having two willing, capable, and loving parents.
“Several states have considered or enacted legislation sanctioning second-parent adoption by partners of the same sex. In addition, legislative initiatives assuring legal status equivalent to marriage for gay and lesbian partners, such as the law approving civil unions in Vermont, can also attend to providing security and permanence for the children of those partnerships.
“Many states have not yet considered legislative actions to ensure the security of children whose parents are gay or lesbian. Rather, adoption has been decided by probate or family courts on a case-by-case basis. Case precedent is limited. It is important that a broad ethical mandate exist nationally that will guide the courts in providing necessary protection for children through co-parent adoption.
“Co-parent or second-parent adoption protects the child’s right to maintain continuing relationships with both parents. The legal sanction provided by co-parent adoption accomplishes the following:
Chapter 3: The Public Policy Case 27.
— February 4, 2002
- Guarantees that the second parent’s custody rights and responsibilities will be protected if the first parent were to die or become incapacitated. Moreover, second-parent adoption protects the child’s legal right of relationships with both parents. In the absence of co-parent adoption, members of the family of the legal parent, should he or she become incapacitated, might successfully challenge the surviving co-parent’s rights to continue to parent the child, thus causing the child to lose both parents.
- Protects the second parent’s rights to custody and visitation if the couple separates. Likewise, the child’s right to maintain relationships with both parents after separation, viewed as important to a positive outcome in separation or divorce of heterosexual parents, would be protected for families with gay or lesbian parents.
- Establishes the requirement for child support from both parents in the event of the parents’ separation. Ensures the child’s eligibility for health benefits from both parents. Provides legal grounds for either parent to provide consent for medical care and to make education, health care, and other important decisions on behalf of the child. Creates the basis for financial security for children in the event of the death of either parent by ensuring eligibility to all appropriate entitlements, such as Social Security survivors benefits. On the basis of the acknowledged desirability that children have and maintain a continuing relationship with two loving and supportive parents, the Academy recommends that pediatricians do the following:
- Be familiar with professional literature regarding gay and lesbian parents and their children.
- Support the right of every child and family to the financial, psychological and legal security that results from having legally recognized parents who are committed to each other and to the welfare of their children.
- Advocate for initiatives that establish permanency through co-parent or second-parent adoption for children of same-sex partners through the judicial system, legislation, and community education.”
“Children who are born to or adopted by one member of a same-sex couple deserve the security of two legally recognized parents”
— Published in its scientific journal, Pediatrics,
after a committee reviewed two decades of studies, most of which found
that the children of gay or lesbian parents were as well adjusted socially
and psychologically as the children of heterosexual parents. February 4, 2002
———————— American Psychiatric Association
“Many gay men and women are parents. For example, estimates of the numbers of lesbian mothers range from 1-to-5 million with the number of children ranging from 6-to-14 million. Most gay parents conceived their children in prior heterosexual marriages. Recently an increasing number of gay parents have conceived children and raised them from birth either as single parents or in committed relationships. Often this is done through alternative insemination, adoption, or through foster parenting. Numerous studies have shown that the children of gay parents are as likely to be healthy and well adjusted as children raised in heterosexual households. Children raised in gay or lesbian households do not show any greater incidence of homosexuality or gender identity issues than other children. Children raised in nontraditional homes with gay/lesbian parents can encounter some special challenges related to the ongoing stigma against homosexuality, but most children surmount these problems.”
— Fact Sheet on Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Issues
———————— American Psychological Association
On the research about lesbian and gay parenting:
“The results of existing research comparing gay and lesbian parents to heterosexual parents and children of gay or lesbian parents to children of heterosexual parents are quite uniform: common stereotypes are not supported by the data.
“In summary, there is no evidence to suggest that lesbians and gay men are unfit to be parents or that psycho-social development among children of gay men and lesbians is compromised in any respect relevant to that among offspring of heterosexual parents. Not a single study has found children of gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents. Indeed, the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by gay and lesbian parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children’s psycho-social growth.”
— APA resource, Lesbian and Gay Parenting: A Resource for Psychologists, 1995
On child custody or placement:
“The sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation of natural, or prospective adoptive or foster parents should not be the sole or primary variable considered in custody or placement cases.”
— APA Council of Representatives, September 2 and 5, 1976
On foster parents:
“The sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation of natural or prospective adoptive or foster parents should not be the sole or primary variable considered in custody or placement cases.”
— APA Council of Representatives, September 2 and 5, 1976
———————— American Psychological Association and|
———————— National Association of Social Workers
“[T]here is no empirical support for any presumption that a gay or lesbian parent’s sexual orientation, or contact with that parent’s.same-sex partner, is or will be harmful to the children. Thus, any assumption that restrictions on visitation are in the best interest of children is contrary to the relevant scientific research. Visitation decisions should be made on the basis of individualized, fact-based assessments without regard to sexual orientation.
“Scientific research has consistently found that the sexual orientation of parents is not a predictive factor as to the parenting ability of those parents or the psychological and social development of their children. There is no empirical basis, therefore, to presume that restricting visitation by a gay or lesbian parent is necessary to promote the best interests of a child. Two decades of scientific investigation have, in fact, provided considerable evidence for the opposite conclusion: that children who retain regular and unrestricted contact with a gay or lesbian parent are as healthy psychologically and socially as children raised by heterosexual parents, and that the parenting skills of gay fathers and lesbian mothers are comparable to their heterosexual counterparts. Further, there is evidence that including the gay or lesbian parent’s partner in the child’s life may generally have a positive effect.”
— Amicus brief, Kimberly Y. Boswell v. Robert G. Bosell
September 1998, Maryland Court of Appeals
“If Americans are so repulsed by gay sex, perhaps the solution is to just allow gays to marry and have kids. After all, everyone knows that parents of young children have no time for sex.”
— Gersh Kuntzman, Newsweek columnist, August 11, 2003