THU July 12, 2018 THU July 12, 2018
10:30 am 10:30 am
Salle Mont-Royal Salle Mont-Royal

Jorge Gato

Postdoctoral Fellow, Faculty of Psychology and Sciences of Education, University of Porto

Margarida R. Henriques

Professor, Faculty of Psycology and Sciences of Education, University of Porto

Pedro Alexandre Costa

Research Associate, William James Center for Research, ISPA - Instituto Universitário

Fiona Tasker

Reader in psychology, Birkbeck, University of London

Kyle Simon

Graduate student in psychology, University of Kentucky

Rachel Farr

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky

Kévin Lavoie

Graduate student in humanities, Université de Montréal

Paper session: Adoption by same-sex couples

Professionals’ experiences facing the challenges of same-sex couples adoption in Portugal

A growing number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons are forming families. In fact, according to the Williams Institute, in the United States six million children and adults have an LGBT parent and more than 125,000 same-sex couple households (19%) include nearly 220,000 children under 18 years of age (Gates, 2013). In Portugal, where the present study was conducted, several bills in favor of LGBT rights have been in the last years, such as same-sex marriage in 2010, and more recently, in 2016, both (a) same-sex couples’ adoption, and (b) access to assisted reproduction techniques to all women independently of their sexual orientation, marital status or fertility status. In view of this, professionals from areas such as psychology, social work, education, or health care must be prepared to support all children and adults, independently of their family configuration. A previous quantitative study (Gato & Fontaine, 2017), has shown that personal characteristics of future professional helpers influence their attitudes toward LGPF, particularly in what concerns the development of children. However, to our knowledge no study has explored in depth the experiences and beliefs of workers in the adoption system regarding same-sex adoption.

Our goal in this study was to explore these beliefs and experiences using a focus-group methodology. Although the change of the law in Portugal which lead to the inclusion of adoption by LGBT candidates, there aren’t any movement in order to prepare the adoption professionals to deal with the new challenges. Their interventions in the different phases of the process, beginning with the assessment of the candidates, the training of parents, the matching between child and family and the support during the post-adoption, raise several doubts about the specificities that would be important having in consideration. The focus group methodology with a professional adoption team of the same institution, facilitate the engagement of the people, and the availability to share own beliefs, feelings and anxieties about how to do a good job.

The main tips of the focus group explore four domains: (1) beliefs and eventual stigmas; (2) information and knowledge about the terminology of sexual and gender minority candidates and the issues in their families with kids; (3) difficulties experienced until the moment in their previous experiences; (4) needs identified to support their work. The results of this research are analyzed in order to develop guidelines for the training of adoption professionals, which can lead a non sexist practices and the integration of the useful specificities.

Motivations for Adoption among LGBTQ Individuals

Since the approval of the Adoption and Children Act in 2002 in England and Wales, the eligibility criteria for adoptive parents have been extended to unmarried and single individuals, including but not limited to, single adults, married and unmarried same-gender couples. Thus, the Adoption and Children Act considerably widened the pool of potential adoptive parents by more explicitly including, as potential adopters, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) individuals. Some authors have called a shortage of suitable applicants coming forward to adopt children in public care, and efforts have been made to actively recruit LGBTQ prospective adopters for the 5,206 children in the social care system waiting for a permanent placement with a family.

The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences and motivations for adoption among a diverse sample of LGBTQ adoptive parents and prospective adopters (n = 366), who completed an online survey for New Family Social (a U.K. network of LGBTQ adoptive and foster families). This study utilized a mixed-methods and pluralistic research design. Quantitative analysis showed that the majority of adopters and prospective adopters did not think that being LGBTQ would negatively influence their experience of the process of adopting a child, although they were evenly split regarding the expectation of whether they would be matched with a harder-to-place child. To explore LGBTQ parents’ motivations for adoption, a thematic analysis of the qualitative data was conducted.

One overarching theme was identified Seeking permanency, together with three often closely related subthemes: Altruistic/Moral motivation, Individualistic/ Intrinsic motivation, and Motivated reasoning motivation. Our findings corroborated and expanded previous findings, showing that lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parents selected adoptive parenthood because of normative considerations, views about biogenetic relatedness, facility of access, and moral values. We also found that many of the LGBTQ participants sought to adopt because they either did not value a biogenetic connection with their child, or thought an unequal biogenetic connection between two same-gender partners with the child might potentially be a problem. However, many also made a choice based on a pragmatic reasoning or a motivated moral reasoning, having explored other available options for bringing a child into the family. Considering the large number of children in the social care system waiting to be placed with a permanent family, the findings from this study have the potential to inform adoption policies and practices by examining not only LGBTQ parents’ motivations but also the barriers and fears that may deter them from seeking adoption in planning to bring a child into their family.

Updates from Wave 2 of the Contemporary Adoptive Families Study: Same-Sex Parents, Family Interactions, Outcomes, and Birth Family Contact in the United States

We present 3 sets of results from the second wave (W2) of the Contemporary Adoptive Families Study (CAFS) through a mixed-methods approach of observational, interview, and survey data. W1 comprised of 106 lesbian (L), gay (G), and heterosexual (H) parent families. Approximately half of the children being transracially adopted and approximately equal girl and boy children in the study. Children were adopted as infants through private domestic adoption and families lived across the United States.

The first set of results assessed changes in parent stress, child adjustment via survey data, and family functioning via observational data between W1 and W2 of the CAFS. No differences in parent stress, child adjustment, or family functioning were found by parent sexual orientation. Average parent stress and child adjustment were below clinical cut off. Previous reports of child adjustment problems and parenting stress were predictors of current child adjustment and family functioning.

The second set of results assessed family conflict and positive behaviors during family disagreements via observational data as well as externalizing problems and adoption specific outcomes via survey data. No differences were found by parent sexual orientation regarding family conflict or child externalizing problems. Positive family behaviors during disagreements were significantly associated with externalizing problems and child reported positive feelings about adoption.

The third set of results, a theme analysis of birth family contact, assessed type, frequency, and with whom adoptive parents had contact. LG parents were also asked whether (and why) birth parents chose LG couples. Birth mothers were the most frequent point of contact and in-person meetings were the most frequent form of contact. On average, adoptive parents had contact with birth family members between less than once and once a year. Some LG parents reported that birth mothers sought out LG couples because of personal connections to sexual minority individuals (e.g., tribute to a gay uncle) or personal identities themselves (e.g., wanting to be ‘the only mother’).

These findings, that family interactions and not parent sexual orientation, as well as information on birth family contact among LGH adoptive families have implications for practice. In addition, the use of a mixed-methods, multi-informant approach is a particularly noteworthy contribution to the literature. That parent sexual orientation, although important identities to the family, do not predict negative outcomes may help in supporting adoptive families. Given the increasing number of adoptive parents with open adoption arrangements, this information may

be helpful for adoption professionals in the placement process. Adoption professionals may be able to better help future same-sex parents overcome barriers to adoption such as legal policy or placing same and other-sex couples on equal footing when being considered for placement.

Gestation pour autrui et filiation : les atermoiements du droit québécois dans la reconnaissance des personnes concernées

Cette communication présente les résultats d’une étude portant sur la gestation pour autrui (GPA) au Québec, en analysant plus spécifiquement les écueils découlant du recours à l’adoption comme mode d’établissement de la filiation entre une mère d’intention et son enfant ayant été porté par une autre femme. Notre démonstration s’appuie sur les données qualitatives recueillies lors d’entretiens menés en 2016-2017 auprès d’une vingtaine de femmes, soit cinq mères d’intention et quinze femmes porteuses.

Lorsqu’un enfant naît d’une gestation pour autrui (GPA) au Québec, il a initialement comme parent la femme porteuse et l’homme à l’origine de sa conception. Pour régulariser la situation, c’est-à-dire pour que la filiation de l’enfant soit établie avec ses deux parents d’intention, le recours à l’adoption par consentement spécial est la voie utilisée. Pour ce faire, la femme ayant donné naissance doit d’abord se départir de ses droits et responsabilités parentales en tant que mère légale. Ce sont alors les tribunaux qui tranchent en fonction des lois existantes sur la filiation et de la jurisprudence en la matière. Si la femme porteuse change d’avis et décide de garder l’enfant, les parents d’intention n’auront aucun recours juridique pour la contraindre à respecter l’entente de départ. De même, la femme porteuse ne pourra pas forcer un parent d’intention n’ayant pas un lien génétique à adopter l’enfant et à s’en occuper si l’entente est dissoute en cours de grossesse ou à la naissance du bébé. Dans de telles circonstances, l’enfant devient soudainement la responsabilité de la femme porteuse. D’une entente de procréation assistée par autrui, on passe alors à une filiation dite naturelle qui pèse entièrement sur ses épaules. Au regard des récits des femmes rencontrées, l’absence d’encadrement législatif de la GPA au Québec est un facteur qui fragilise leur expérience, puisqu’il fait en sorte que ces femmes naviguent à travers les systèmes juridiques et hospitaliers qui ne reconnaissent pas d’emblée leur place ni leur rôle respectif dans le projet parental par GPA.