Preparing to become a parent as an LGBT individual is an exciting — but sometimes nerve-racking — process. Like any other prospective parent, you might question whether you can really be the parent you’ve always wanted to be, but you may also wonder whether your child having same-sex parents will impact their childhood and lives.
Research has shown time and time again that there are no differences between same-sex parenting and opposite-sex parenting. Children who grow up in same-sex-parent families are just as likely to be happy and successful as those who grow up in opposite-sex-parent families. As long as you are willing to put in the time, effort and love that your child needs, your sexual orientation won’t make a difference.
However, as you know, there are still many people who question whether gay and lesbian parenting is a good influence on children. When you choose to raise an adopted child, you will already face unique challenges, but when you are an LGBT couple, there are additional same-sex parenting issues and difficulties you’ll need to prepare for.
No matter how much you prepare for it, parenting is always a journey of discovery and learning what works best for you and your family. Before you take this step to become a parent, there are some important things to know about being a gay adoptive parent.
The Truth About LGBT Parenting in the United States
While it’s difficult to estimate exactly how many gay couples raising kids there are in the United States today, it’s safe to say that this number has greatly increased over the past couple of decades. In fact, the 2000 U.S. Census estimated that 115,000 American same-sex households were raising children. Progressive attitudes and acceptance have helped to normalize gay and lesbian parenting and, in response, many LGBT couples have been able to easily achieve their dream of raising a child together.
Whether a child is brought into a same-sex-parent household by adoption or assisted reproduction, their parents may face questions and concerns from those who are unaware of the truth behind LGBT parenting — that is, the fact that there are no major differences or negative effects that occur from same-sex couples raising children.
Study after study has proven it: Children of same-sex couples show no difference in general health, emotional difficulties, coping and learning behavior than those children of opposite-sex couples. As long as a family is stable and supportive, family structure doesn’t play a part in the general well-being of the children raised in that household. In fact, the American Psychological Association even issued a statement in 2004 “that the adjustment, development, and psychological well-being of children is unrelated to parental sexual orientation… children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish” and that any discrimination against homosexual parenting should be strongly opposed.
So, if you’re looking to raise children as an LGBT couple, find confidence in knowing that there is no scientific evidence that your children will be any more susceptible to a negative well-being than any other child raised by a heterosexual couple.
Unique Challenges for LGBT Parents and their Children
However, as you likely know, just because there is no evidence against being a gay parent and raising children, there are still people who will oppose the idea of gay couples raising a child. You’ll need to be prepared for addressing these challenges in a positive way, both before and after a child is placed with you.
When you first decide to become gay adoptive parents, it’s important that you seek out a professional who is willing and excited to work with an LGBT couple like yourself. Unfortunately, there are still many adoption professionals (and assisted reproductive technology professionals) who will not work with same-sex couples. Take the time to choose a professional that you know is right for you, because working with an open-minded professional will make the rest of your adoption process much easier.
Some gay and lesbian parents worry that they will never be chosen by a prospective birth mother or surrogate because of their sexual orientation — but this is a very rare occurrence. While there are certainly women out there who will choose to place their child with an opposite-gender couple, the majority of women are just looking for two people who will be perfect parents — no matter what their sexual orientation is or what they look like. In fact, some women even seek out LGBT couples to adopt their child.
After you bring your perfect child home with you, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world. Even though you’ll be adjusting to your new life with a child, it will be a happy time where you’ll feel like everything has finally worked out the way you wanted it to. Enjoy this time — but this is also the time to start addressing some of the challenges you and your children may face in the years to come.
While your child will always see a same-sex-parent family as normal, not all children will have this view. As your child grows up, they may be bullied for the way their family looks. You can’t control other children’s actions, but you can make sure that your child is confident in their family and their parents’ love. Emphasize that just because you and your spouse are gay doesn’t mean you’re any different from your child’s friends’ parents; you will still love your child and care for them just as much any other parents do. Always be open to discussing your relationship and your child’s adoption story with your children, and develop a strong relationship with them based on love and trust. While there may be difficult times as they grow up, knowing that they have loving and supportive parents to go to for help will make a huge difference.