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Health & Parenting

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Study: Kids of Lesbian Parents Are Well-Adjusted

Researchers Say Children of Lesbian Parents Have Fewer Behavior Problems

Parent Profile

How to explain the good results? "These are not accidental children," Gartrell tells WebMD.

The babies, she notes, were all planned, all conceived through donor insemination. "The moms tended to be older and attended parenting classes. They were very involved in the process of education [for their children]."

''They anticipated their kids would experience stigmatization," she says, and many discussed how to handle it, both with family members and at discussions at their child's school. She describes the parents as ''very committed."

Were the mothers realistic in rating their kids? Gartrell thinks so. ''We saw a tremendous amount of candor,'' she says. The checklists include more than 100 items.

Gartrell can't say with certainly whether the findings would apply to gay fathers. It's ''highly likely," she says. But gay couples who have a child through a surrogate is much more recent phenomenon than lesbian couples opting for donor insemination, so the research will take time to catch up, she says.

The follow-up on the families she studies will continue, Gartrell says. Bos, her co-author, plans to replicate the study in the Netherlands. The study was funded by a variety of organizations, including the Lesbian Health Fund of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and others, but the funders had no roles in the study, Gartrell says.

''What's really impressive is the long-term follow-up," says Ellen Perrin, MD, a professor of pediatrics at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Boston. She reviewed the paper before publication for the authors but was not involved in it otherwise.

While much research has been published on younger children in lesbian families, there's ''almost no understanding of what happens as they become adults," says Perrin.

The good news from the latest report, she tells WebMD, is that these children are doing very well socially, psychologically, and academically. Adding credibility, Perrin says, is the high retention rate -- 93% of the original participants are still being followed. "Very few people have been able to do that," she says. "That makes the data very valuable."

Will the results change the minds of those opposed to same-sex parenting? "I hope it does," Perrin says. "People need to look at the information."

WebMD requested comments on the new research from two organizations that favor traditional family structures -- Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. Spokespeople for both groups said they will try to review the findings and provide comment, but those comments were not received in time for publishing.

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