THURSDAY, Oct. 25, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Foster-care children adopted by gay and lesbian parents do just as well as those adopted by heterosexual parents, a new study finds.
Researchers looked at 82 high-risk children, aged 4 months to 8 years old, adopted from foster care in Los Angeles County. Sixty of them were placed with heterosexual parents, 15 with gay male parents and seven with lesbian parents.
Sixty-eight percent of the parents were married or living with a partner and their ages ranged from 30 to 56.
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) psychologists followed the children for two years after they were placed with their adoptive parents. Overall, all the children made significant advances in mental and social development and their levels of behavior problems remained stable.
The researchers noted that the children adopted by gay and lesbian parents had more risk factors than those adopted by heterosexual parents. Risk factors included prematurity, prenatal substance exposure, abuse, neglect or more than one previous placement.
"The children adopted by gay and lesbian parents had more challenges before they were adopted and yet they end up in the same place, which is impressive," study co-author Letitia Anne Peplau, a research professor of psychology, said in a UCLA news release.
The study was published in the October issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.
Tens of thousands of foster children in the United States lack stable homes, yet concerns about the suitability of gay and lesbian adoptive parents limit the pool of potential parents. This study shows that there "is no scientific basis to discriminate against gay and lesbian parents," Peplau said.
The U.S. Children's Bureau explains how to adopt.