Parent adjustment over time in gay, lesbian, and heterosexual parent families adopting from foster care

  • Lavner J
  • Waterman J
  • Peplau L
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Although increasing numbers of gay and lesbian individuals and couples are adopting children, gay men and lesbian women continue to face increased scrutiny and legal obstacles from the child welfare system. To date, little research has compared the experiences of gay or lesbian and heterosexual adoptive parents over time, limiting conceptual understandings of the similarities they share and the unique challenges that gay and lesbian adoptive parents may face. This study compared the adoption satisfaction, depressive symptoms, parenting stress, and social support at 2, 12, and 24 months postplacement of 82 parents (60 heterosexual, 15 gay, 7 lesbian) adopting children from foster care in Los Angeles County. Few differences were found between heterosexual and gay or lesbian parents at any of the assessments or in their patterns of change over time. On average, parents in both household types reported significant increases in adoption satisfaction and maintained low, nonclinical levels of depressive symptoms and parenting stress over time. Across all family types, greater parenting stress was associated with more depressive symptoms and lower adoption satisfaction. Results indicated many similarities between gay or lesbian and heterosexual adoptive parents, and highlight a need for services to support adoptive parents throughout the transition to parenthood to promote their well-being.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Foster care
  • Gay or lesbian parents
  • High-risk adoption
  • Nontraditional families
  • Transition to parenthood

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  • Justin A. Lavner

  • Jill Waterman

  • Letitia Anne Peplau

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