In a New York Times article this summer, writer Sabrina Tavernise traced the recent increase in gay and lesbian couples adopting across the country. This is in the face of legal hurdles in many states that make adoption by same-sex parents an especially daunting process. What’s behind these numbers? And will the upward trend continue? In fact, advocates point to two primary reasons for the increase: the need for homes for children who are waiting for adoption, and growing acceptance among Americans of gays and lesbians. According to data from Gary Gates, a demographer from the University of California, Los Angeles, 19 percent of same-sex couples who were raising children in 2010 reported an adopted child as a member of the household, up from just eight percent in 2000. Gates estimates that four percent of the adopted population in the United States -- about 65,000 children -- live in homes in which the head of the household is gay or lesbian.
Researchers from the U.S. Census Bureau recently examined the demographics of same-sex couple households with children. By analyzing Census data, it was found that 26.5 percent of lesbian couples had children in their household in 2008, up from 22 percent in 1990. For gay couples, the figure rose from five percent to 13.9 percent. Of course, not all of these children were adopted, but the numbers do point to an increased tendency among same-sex couples to raise children, and adoption is one way to do that. The sad fact is, the barriers remain even though research shows that sexual orientation does not impact one’s ability to be a good parent. Research findings provide favorable evidence to encourage the continued increase in adoptions by same-sex couples.
Currently there are 107,000+ children in the U.S. foster care system waiting for families. Total foster adoption numbers had been on the rise each year until 2010, when fewer than expected took place. But as the number of adoptions by gay and lesbian couples grows, there may be new hope for many of our nation’s waiting kids.