There is no developmental difference between children adopted by homosexual couples versus those adopted by heterosexual couples in the U.S., a recent landmark study featuring a GW professor found.
Over the past four years, psychology professor Stephen Forssell worked with two researchers from the University of Virginia to study whether children adopted by homosexual couples would develop similarly to those adopted by heterosexual parents. The research pertained to the development of preschool-age children adopted at birth by 27 lesbian couples, 29 gay male couples and 50 heterosexual couples.
Forssell joined the study due to ties with Charlotte Patterson, a UVA professor with whom he worked closely while receiving a bachelor’s in the school’s psychology department in 1998.
“She has done this for many years,” Forssell said. “She has previously done many lesbian adoption studies.”
Forssell remained in contact with Patterson and decided to join her team.
During the research phase, the team conducted various interviews and interactions with each family, including speaking to caregivers and teachers associated with the children. They had an intricate measuring system to rate each child’s behavior and adjustment abilities during a two-hour interview with the child.
According to the study – which was published in the August issue of the Applied Developmental Science journal – the findings “challenge received notions about the importance of children having both one female and one male parent.”
Additionally, the study stated there are “no significant associations between parental sexual orientation and child adjustment.”
The results also show that from a policy standpoint, there is “no justification for denying lesbian and gay adults from adopting children.”
Some states, including Florida and Arkansas, have tried to ban same-sex couples from adopting children, while in Utah and Mississippi same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt children.
Forssell said his next research project may involve more long-term research to see whether the development of the children changes throughout childhood and adolescence.
“It would be really wonderful to do follow-ups,” Forssell said. “Our research is just a snapshot at any given time.”