Mitch and Cam on ABC’s Modern Family are parenting Lily, the daughter they adopted from Vietnam. Actor Neil Patrick Harris and his partner David Burtka recently had their twins, Gideon and Harper, through surrogacy. And a quick flip through New York photographer Scott Pasfield’s book Gay in America reveals that these high profile examples are not outliers — they are a reflection of what is happening in househoulds all across the country. More and more same-sex couples are deciding to have children, a fact underscored by new statistics from the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.
By analyzing newly released Census Bureau estimates, the Institute found that in the past decade, the number of same-sex couples who have adopted children has tripled, from 6,477 couples in 2000, to about 21,740 in 2009. Similarly, the number of adopted children living with gay, lesbian and bi parents almost quadrupled, from 8,310 in 2000 to about 32,571 in 2009.
This astounding increase has occurred despite continued struggles in states such as Virginia (which just ended a public comment period on the matter) for same-sex couples to be able adopt together. While most states allow single people of any sexual orientation to adopt, some states still refuse to allow loving and committed same-sex couples to do the same.
But for many adoption agencies, sexual orientation is not a concern. At least 60 percent of adoption agencies in the United States accept applications from gay, lesbian and bi prospective parents, according to the Adoption Institute, which works on adoption policy and practice issues. Additionally, nearly 40 percent of agencies have happily placed children with same-sex couples or parents who identify as gay, lesbian or bi.
GLAAD encourages media outlets to recognize the ever increasing numbers of families with gay, lesbian and bi parents by incorporating their stories into the coverage of all issues related to families. As studies like this show, the face of family in America is shifting, and in order to tell these stories fairly and truthfully, it is crucial to include the voices of LGBT parents and children.