Research: Many of Us Are Parents

A major research project in the United States has revealed that more than 35% of lesbians between ages 18 and 44 have given birth, and 16% of gay men have a child.

The Williams Institute and the Urban Institute recently released a major study on adoption and foster care by lesbian and gay parents. The study uses census data and other government surveys to explore the demographics and characteristics of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals who are adoptive or foster parents.

The Williams/Urban study estimates 65,500 adopted children are currently living with a lesbian or gay parent, amounting to 4% of all adopted children in the United States. The research found 52% of gay men and 41% of lesbians want to have a child; 23% of lesbian or bisexual women are living with and caring for someone else’s birth child; and 10,300 foster children are living with lesbian or gay parents. Also, nearly 52,000 lesbian and gay households include an adopted child under the age of 18.

State policies vary regarding LGB adoption and fostering. Some have bans: Florida has an infamous ban on gay adoption; Mississippi bans “same-gender” couples, and Utah bans all unmarried couples. Other states, including California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington DC, have policies which prohibit sexual orientation from being used as a basis to prevent a prospective applicant from being a adoptive or foster parent. Gays and lesbians in the remaining states may face discrimination when applying to be adoptive or foster parents. Currently, several states are considering laws and policies that would prevent LGB people from adopting and fostering.

The study follows the passage of the Sexual Orientation Regulations in the U.K.. The regulations make it illegal for adoption agencies to discriminate against lesbian, gay and bisexual people and LGB couples. The Roman Catholic church has been given until December 2008 to comply with the law, and have threatened to close their adoption agencies.

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