Beliefs, Perceptions, and Socialization Practices of Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Adoptive Parents
Adoptive parenting contributes to the dramatic growth in lesbian and gay (LG) parenting. Research on adoptive families has mostly focused on heterosexual parent families and the limited research on LG parenting has primarily emphasized child adjustment outcomes. This three-paper dissertation utilized subsamples from a large (N=1616) and recent (2012-2013) comprehensive dataset, The Modern Adoptive Families Study, designed to compare family characteristics, experiences, and adjustment outcomes across different types of adoptive families, especially families headed by sexual minority parents. The Minority Stress model is used to frame a deeper understanding of parenting processes in heterosexual and lesbian and gay parent adoptive families. This framework takes into account the potential for families, led by sexual minority parents, to encounter discrimination and suggests processes may exist within the family to help buffer interpersonal and systemic bias. Paper 1 used logistic regression to examine the associations of adoptive parents’ satisfaction with their mental health services and their pediatrician. Pediatrician satisfaction was specifically related to the parental perception of their provider’s understanding of their minority status; based on 1) adoptive family status, 2) parental sexual orientation, and 3) transracial adoption status. Overall, 51% of the sample of parents who sought mental health services reported satisfaction. Satisfaction was positively associated with being a gay father, having a higher household income, and having a child whose race was identified as Asian. Satisfaction was negatively associated with having a child older than 11 years old. Of parents who reported on their satisfaction with pediatricians, 82% of parents reported satisfaction. Having a higher household income was positively associated with respondents’ satisfaction. Paper 2 used confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to explore how findings from two racial socialization measures compared across parental sexual orientation, in transracial adoptive families. The scales measured parental endorsement of cultural competency pertaining to race and related self-efficacy enacting racial socialization practices. In Paper 3, cultural socialization theory was used to investigate parents’ endorsement of socialization related to being raised in a same-sex headed family with two newly developed scales using exploratory factor analysis (EFA). Results of these studies will help to inform policy and practice by addressing critical questions impacting a growing number of adoptive families, especially those headed by sexual minority parents. Contributions to the literature include findings about parenting practices, perceptions, experiences, and relationship dynamics within lesbian, gay, and heterosexual adoptive parent families.