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Research On Gay, Lesbian Adoptions Named ‘Distinguished’

April 1, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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A paper by assistant professor of sociology Mary Ann Davis that looks at adoptions by the gay and lesbian community has been recognized by the Southwestern Sociological Association.

“Gay Male and Lesbian Same Sex Couple Adoptions in the United States” was named the “Distinguished Paper” by the organization during its March 16-19 meeting in Las Vegas.

The research is part of a chapter in Davis’s forthcoming book “Children for Families or Families for Children: The Demography of Adoption Behavior in the U.S.,” which will be published by Springer Publishing.

Davis’s paper was a demographic analysis of state laws of both marriage and adoption, statistics on national domestic and foster care adoptions, and how international laws vary by country for inter-country adoptions.

In her research she found that only one state in the U.S., Arkansas, does not allow adoptions by gays and lesbians, and that law is currently challenged and on the Arkansas State Supreme Court Docket. She also found there is overwhelming support for the practice from professional associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the National Association of Social Workers.

A licensed clinical social worker with emeritus status, Davis said she has worked for a number of years in child welfare, foster care and placing children for adoption.

“I have noticed for a long time that one of the unspoken practices is the large number of gay and lesbian foster parents who adopt,” she said. “They are actively recruited because these (foster children) are the children that it is very difficult to find homes for.”

Davis said preventing gay and lesbian adoptions has been a recent topic of discourse in the Texas Legislature.

Child welfare agencies have spoken in support of gay male and lesbian foster parenting and adoption: because of the volume of foster children adopted by the population and the numbers of children on waiting lists without homes; it is in the best interest of foster children currently in these homes remaining in these stable placements; and, most importantly, research has shown no detrimental effect along with “many children who have been physically and sexually abused are unsuccessful in homes with the offending sex,” she said.

One measure that supports adoption by the gay and lesbian community is the “Best Interest of the Child” dictum followed by the courts and child-placing agencies.

“The best interest of the child is to have a stable home, and we don’t have enough foster homes,” Davis said. “When we had hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the five states affected by the hurricanes had to place children in 19 different states. There is a cultural lag between what the practices are, what’s actually going on, and what people think is going on. It’s a very topical and interesting area of research.

“The other thing is that people on the street will think is that there are going to be adverse consequences (for the child),” she said. “There have been three meta-analyses—which are comparisons of all of the research that’s been conducted—and all of the studies agree that there are no detrimental effects on children who are adopted by gay male or lesbian same sex couples.

“There are detrimental effects, however, if children go to institutions versus foster homes—if there aren’t enough foster homes and they are moved out of state or have multiple placements, moving from place to place to place.”


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