For example, lesbian and gay (LG) couples and individuals are increasingly personnel may inappropriately question LG parents about their relationship or . to issues of explicit marginalization, a study of LG and heterosexual adoptive. ; Crea & Barth, ), and challenges in adoptive-birth parent relationships (McRoy et al.; Siegel, ). Despite the rich nature of the open adoption. Finally, it addresses the adoptive context and parent relationship quality. Becoming a parent through adoption, specifically, can introduce additional challenges Of the 15 couples, 7 were lesbian, 1 was gay male, and 7 were heterosexual.
What challenges do LG and heterosexual adoptive parents report with regard to teachers and schools, related to their family structure i. To what extent do patterns of disclosure and reported challenges appear to be shaped by parent sexual orientation, adoptive status, child race, and geographic location?
What suggestions do LG and heterosexual adoptive parents have for schools? That is, how could schools improve their treatment of diverse families, according to parents?
Method Description of the Sample Data come from parents in families. Thus, a total of 79 lesbian, 75 gay male, and heterosexual parents were surveyed about their perceptions and experiences of their children's preschools. The current sample was drawn from a slightly larger sample of parents with adopted children under 5. Hierarchical linear modeling HLM, in which parents were nested within couples revealed no differences in education level by family type.
The average age of the children was 3. Their children were mostly of color. Chi squares showed that the distributions of adoption type, child gender, parent race, child race, and parent-child racial match did not differ by family type. The types of preschool environments that children were enrolled in varied. Twenty percent of the sample reported that their children attended public preschools e. Recruitment Inclusion criteria for the larger study from which this sample was drawn were: Couples were recruited during the pre-adoptive period i.
Over 30 adoption agencies throughout the US were asked to provide study information to all clients who had not yet adopted, typically in the form of a brochure inviting them to participate in a study of the transition to adoptive parenthood.
Interested couples were asked to contact the researcher for more information. Both heterosexual and same-sex couples were recruited through agencies, in an effort to match couples roughly on geographic status and financial resources.
Couples who participated in the original study of the transition to adoptive parenthood were recontacted three years after they had adopted and asked to participate in a follow-up. Both members of each couple were asked to complete an in-depth questionnaire packet that focused on their experiences with their children's schools. Questionnaires included closed- and open-ended items that addressed parents' school experiences.
Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Adoptive Parents' Experiences in Preschool Environments
Members of same-sex couples were mailed questionnaires with additional questions that addressed unique aspects of their experience as sexual-minority parents. Data are drawn from this three-year post-placement assessment. Procedure Participants responded to a series of open-ended questions, in written form, regarding their experiences navigating their children's schools.
The following open-ended questions were included in the survey packet and used in the analysis: LG parents only 5 What challenges do you face in advocating for your child, dealing with teachers, etc.?
Data Analysis Participants' responses to the above questions were examined via qualitative analysis. The author approached the analysis using a content analysis method, which is a standard method for examining responses to open-ended questions, and represents a process of identifying, coding, and categorizing the primary patterns or themes in the data Patton, The coding process proceeded as follows: After reading transcripts of each person's data multiple times, the author then initiated the coding process with open coding, which involves carefully examining the participant responses and highlighting relevant passages within them Charmaz, This led to the specification and refinement of emerging categories or codes.
We tried to get into a preschool that was more racially diverse, but we didn't end up getting off of the wait list. Findings have implications for adoption professionals seeking to support same-sex and heterosexual prospective adopters, as well as societal debates and policy regarding same-sex relationships and parenting. This study is unique in that: Little research has examined both parent and child characteristics as predictors of divorce in heterosexual couples of biological children Wymbs et al.
The literature review that follows summarizes prior work on predictors of divorce in heterosexual couples. It then reviews the limited work on relationship dissolution and divorce in same-sex parents. Finally, it addresses the adoptive context and parent relationship quality. Divorce in Heterosexual Couples Research on predictors of divorce in heterosexual couples has fairly exclusively focused on parents who are biologically related to their children.
This research has examined a wide range of predictors of divorce, many of which fall into two categories: Studies have also documented a variety of interpersonal predictors of relationship dissolution among heterosexual couples. Relationship maintenance behaviors i. Individuals may utilize maintenance behaviors when aiming to correct problems in their relationships as opposed to using them to preserve the current relationship; this would explain the association between maintenance and declining relationship quality Malinen et al.
Gartrell and colleaguesexamined relationship dissolution among lesbian mothers in the National Lesbian Family Study NLFSa longitudinal study of 73 planned lesbian-mother families formed via donor insemination. This study found that by the time the children were 5 years old, 23 couples In an unpublished dissertation, Turtletaub interviewed 10 lesbian mothers five former couples and found that women named disagreements about parenting and money as contributors to their breakup; they also noted that weak communication was often exacerbated by the challenges of parenting.
No quantitative studies have examined predictors of relationship dissolution among same-sex couples who are parents. But, studies examining predictors of relationship dissolution among male and female same-sex couples who are not parents have found that, similar to research on heterosexual couples, interpersonal processes predicted relationship dissolution: Furthermore, using observational and self-report data obtained from male and female same-sex cohabiting couples, Gottman and colleagues found that partners who demonstrated higher levels of empathy for their partners were less likely to dissolve their unions 12 years later.
Support groups were identified as useful for connecting with other parents who were dealing with similar issues. Although we did not examine how support via these routes may have alleviated relationship strain, we suspect that by providing parents with opportunities for sharing and reflection, such supports helped to decrease their stress, which may have effects on the relationship Goldberg, Limitations, Conclusions, and Implications The current study investigated the immediate post-placement period only.
Longer-term follow-ups are needed to determine how couples who are placed with children via foster care fare over time. Second, we studied mostly White, affluent parents. More work is needed to explore how different axes of privilege and difference affect the transition to parenthood for foster-to-adopters.
Different findings might have been obtained had we queried participants in a more open-ended way, or asked about similarities between partners. Indeed, heterosexual couples are more likely to pursue adoption because of infertility, and all types of couples tend to cite financial constraints as a reason for pursuing adoption via the child welfare system specifically Goldberg, Finally, we conducted individual as opposed to conjoint interviews.
Further, participants who may have been reticent to voice areas of perceived strain if they had been interviewed with their partners may have been more comfortable in individual interviews. Yet, it is a limitation in that we did not gain access to direct interactions between partners through joint interviews.
Our findings elucidate the common relationship stressors experienced by parents who adopt via the child welfare system; indeed, we found few differences between the perceptions of same-sex and heterosexual couples. Thus, the implications of our study can be applied to adopters of diverse sexual orientations.
First, practitioners who work with couples who are seeking to become parents via child welfare should be aware of the unique nature of the foster-to-adopt process.
Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Adoptive Parents' Experiences in Preschool Environments
The transition to parenthood, already a complex life transition for couple and family dynamics, is complicated when couples lack security in their placements, or are placed with children who are older or have behavioral problems. Second, adoption agencies should facilitate access to services e. Our findings indicate that therapy of all types child, couples, and family may be helpful, especially during the post-placement period, when the re adjustment process can create difficulties for family members.
In sum, while the transition to parenthood is often a stressor for parents in general, parents who adopt via child welfare may encounter additional stressors, which may affect relationship functioning. Although our findings were similar for same-sex and heterosexual parents, same-sex couples did cite some added stressors. Placek award, from the American Psychological Foundation, both awarded to the first author.
Footnotes 1Foster-to-adopt programs place children with prospective adoptive parents, on a foster care basis, before the children are legally free to adopt. Thus, individuals and couples who seek to adopt via the child welfare system, and who are caring for children whom they express an intention to ultimately adopt, are called foster-to-adopt parents.
Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theories and methods. Bowen family systems theory and practice: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Claxton A, Perry-Jenkins M. Leisure and marital quality across the transition to parenthood.
Journal of Marriage and Family. When partners become parents. Normative family transitions, couple relationship quality, and healthy child development.
Growing diversity and complexity. The effect of the transition to parenthood on relationship quality: An eight-year prospective study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Coparenting among lesbian, gay, and heterosexual couples: Fathers, mothers and marriages: What shapes adoption conversations in families with young adopted children?
Adoption and foster care by gay and lesbian parents in the United States. The Urban Institute; Gates G, Ost J. The lesbian and gay atlas.