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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 28, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 43
Gay adoptions triple over last decade
Section One
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Gay adoptions triple over last decade

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

A new study released this week by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute shows that the number of same-sex individuals and couples who adopted children tripled over the past decade, in part because of eased state restrictions and more foster care options.

The report, a four-year study of 158 Gay parents, found the highest number of Gay people adopted children from Massachusetts, California, New York, and Texas.

Recently, Florida stopped enforcing its strict ban on adoptions by Gay people, and the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down a voter-approved measure to bar same-sex and unmarried cohabitating couples from adopting.

'In the past, adoption was often an option only for wealthy Gay families who could afford to adopt internationally or to pay a surrogate,' reports the Associated Press. 'Allowing Gay couples to adopt from foster care, where healthcare and college is paid for, opens it up to more people, experts said. The study estimates about 50% of adoptive gay families adopt children from foster care.'

Not all adoption and foster care agencies will serve Gay parents - Catholic Charities notably refused to follow the new civil unions law in Illinois this year. About 60% of U.S. adoption agencies welcome applications from Gay parents, according to the Adoption Institute.

According to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, almost 22,000 same-sex couples adopted children in 2009, compared to around 6,500 in 2000, based on Census Bureau estimates.

Still, potential problems for both the parents and the children remain. Children growing up in LGBT families are more likely to live in poverty and may be denied legal ties to one of their parents, a report released on October 25 showed.

A lack of federal recognition of same-sex marriages means such families face higher tax burdens and unequal access to health insurance and government safety net programs, said the report, entitled 'All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families.'

The report was released online and authored by groups advocating for Gay rights, including the Movement Advancement Project, the Family Equality Council, and the Center for American Progress.

'The reality is if you look at today's modern families, they come in all shapes and sizes,' said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council.

'The laws and policies we have in place haven't kept pace with that changing reality,' she said.

An estimated two million children are being raised in such households, the report said. They live in 96% of U.S. counties in racially and ethnically diverse families, and the children are as happy, healthy, and well-adjusted as their peers raised by heterosexual parents.

But such families are more likely to live in poverty than married heterosexual households.

In 31 states, it is very challenging for same-sex parents to establish legal ties for their children to both parents, Chrisler said. Thus a child could be left vulnerable if a parent dies or the relationship dissolves.

The report detailed more than 100 state and federal policy recommendations, including ensuring access to health insurance and care, educating doctors and schools about LGBT families, and revising medical decision-making laws.

It also highlighted legalization and federal recognition of same-sex marriage as an important step to protecting children raised in those homes.

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