New Numbers Released On Gay And Lesbian Adoption/Foster Care

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Facts and figures often change when it comes to gay and lesbian 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.

Diversity Babies

    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 adopting.
  • 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 Islander.
  • 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 Latino(a).
  • One recent study of Midwestern youth who are or were in foster care found that almost 7% identified as homosexual or bisexual.
  • 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 families.

All statements are directly excerpted from study unless marked with an asterisk*. Otherwise, data was condensed for readability.

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