parenting. Adoption and foster care are areas where this is
particularly true. The Williams and Urban Institutes recently
released an updated study on these issues, combining data from a
number of reliable sources and taking a fresh look at things.
Authored by Gary J. Gates , M.V. Lee Badgett, Jennifer Macomber and
Kate Chambers, the study, “Adoption and Foster Care by Lesbian
and Gay Parents in the United States,” is full of interesting
findings, some of which are excerpted below.
(All statements are directly excerpted from study unless marked
with an asterisk*. Otherwise, we’ve condensed some data for
Parenting and Adoption
- An estimated 27% of same-sex couples identified in Census 2000
have a child under 18 living in the home with them.
- More than half of gay men and 41% of lesbians express the
desire to have a child. The percentage for gay men (52%) is higher
than that of heterosexual and bisexual men (33% each).*
- An estimated 2,000,000 GLB people are interested in
- Approximately 65,000 adopted children are being raised by
lesbian or gay parents, accounting for more than 4% of all adopted
children in the United States.
- Gay and lesbian adoptive parents (uncoupled) represent nearly
one in six single parents raising adopted children.*
- In four racial/ethnic categories, same-sex couples adopt
children of color at a slightly higher rate than married
heterosexual couples.* The racial/ethnic breakdown of children
adopted by same-sex couples is 53% white, 14% African-American, 18%
Hispanic/Latino(a), and 11% Asian/Pacific Islander. The breakdown
for children of married heterosexual couples is 63% white, 11%
African/American, 13% Hispanic/Latino(a), and 8% Asian/Pacific
- The top five states/districts in terms of the percentage of
adopted children living with gay or lesbian parents are as follows:
District of Columbia (28.6%), Massachusetts (16.4%), California
(9.8%), New Mexico (9.0%), Alaska (8.6%).*
- On average, same-sex couples raising adopted children are
older, more (formally) educated, and have more economic resources
than other adoptive parents: The average household income for
same-sex couples raising adopted children is $102,474, versus
$81,900 for different-sex married couples, $43,746 for
different-sex unmarried couples, and $36,312 for single parents.
Same-sex couples hold graduate degrees at 34%, versus different-sex
married couples at 13%, different-sex unmarried couples at 2% and
single parents at 9%.
Parenting and Foster Care
- An estimated 10,300 foster children live with a lesbian or gay
foster parent, accounting for nearly 3% of all of foster children
in the Untied States and 6% of foster children living in non-kin
family foster care placements.
- Almost 40% of all agencies and 83% of public agencies reported
making at least one adoption placement with a lesbian or gay man.
However, one-third of agencies would reject a gay or lesbian
applicant, either because of the religious beliefs guiding the
agency, a state law prohibiting placement with GLB parents, or a
policy of placing children only with married couples. Additionally,
agency heads are more likely to have negative views towards gays
and lesbians adopting when they associate such adoptions with
greater evaluation and support needs.*
- Among the more than a third of foster parents who are single,
one in seven is a lesbian or gay parent.
- Single foster parents are more likely than others to be
African-American (51%) and less likely to be white (31 percent).
Foster children of single parents are more likely to be
African-American (52%) and less likely to be white (26%) than
children in other family types. Among foster families headed by
couples, in contrast, approximately half of foster children are
white and about 20% are African-American and an additional 20% are
- One recent study of Midwestern youth who are or were in foster
care found that almost 7% identified as homosexual or
- As of September 2005, 10,000 of the roughly 500,000 children in
foster care (2%) had run away from their placement.
- The portion of foster children with a disability is highest
among those in same-sex couple households (32%).
- Roughly 60% of all adoptions of children in foster care are by
their foster parents.
- Prohibiting GLB people from fostering would cost an estimated
$87 to $130 million dollars nationwide
- Prohibiting GLB people from fostering would result in the
removal of 9,000 to 14,000 children from existing foster
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