The popularity of the movie “The Kids are All Right” prompts many people to ask: Should the sexual orientation of prospective adoptive parents be considered when placing children in adoptive homes? According to a new study, the answer may be “no.” In a sample of 106 adoptive children living in different parts of the US, youngsters were developing well regardless of whether they were living with lesbian, gay or heterosexual parenting couples.

Psychologist Charlotte J. Patterson says, “We found that children adopted by lesbian and gay couples are thriving. Our results provide no justification for denying lesbian or gay prospective adoptive parents the opportunity to adopt children. With thousands of children in need of permanent homes in the United States alone, our findings suggest that outreach to lesbian and gay prospective adoptive parents might benefit children who are in need.”

Using standardized assessment procedures, the researchers found that parents and teachers agreed, on average, that the children were developing in typical ways. Measures of children’s adjustment, as well as parenting practices and stress, were found to be unassociated with the parents’ sexual orientation: Regardless of their parents’ sexual orientation, how well children were adjusted was significantly associated with how warmly their parents were oriented to them.

Adoption of young children by same-sex couples has been a controversial topic. Same-sex couples are prohibited by law from adopting children in Florida, Mississippi and Utah. Voters in Arkansas passed a ban on adoptions by same- and opposite-sex unmarried couples in 2008, only to have it overturned by the courts. That case is currently on appeal.

In the last few years, legislatures in a number of other states have also debated proposals to prohibit adoptions by same-sex couples. On the other hand, joint adoptions by same-sex couples are permitted in many states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Vermont.

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