Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Behavioral Adjustment of Chinese Girls Adopted by Single Mothers, Lesbian Couples & Hetero Couples

Adoption Quarterly's last volume of 2009 is dedicated to issues in gay and lesbian adoption. One particular article that caught my eye compares outcomes for Chinese girls adopted by single parents, lesbian partners, and heterosexual couples. Here's the abstract for Behavioral Adjustment of Adopted Chinese Girls in Single-Mother, Lesbian-Couple, and Heterosexual-Couple Households:
This study compared the behavioral adjustment of girls from families headed by single mothers and lesbian couples with their peers from married heterosexual households. The sample included 93 Chinese girls adopted by the three types of families (31 girls in each type of family). The girls in the three types of families were matched on age at adoption, age at assessment, and number of adoptive siblings. The Child Behavior Checklist was used to measure their behavior adjustment (i.e., internalizing problems, externalizing problems, and overall behavioral problems). General linear modeling revealed that children from the three types of families were not statistically different in behavioral adjustment except in the preschool-aged group's internalizing problems and the school-aged group's externalizing problems, wherein children in single-mother households scored lower than their peers from lesbian-couple households. Psychological and social-political implications are discussed.

Click here if you are interested in looking at the Child Behavior Checklist form. Internalizing behaviors include anxious, depressive, and overcontrolled behaviors; externalizing behaviors include aggressive, hyperactive, noncompliant, and undercontrolled behaviors.

Are you surprised by the comparative results? The only statistically significant outcomes are for single-mother households, and those outcomes are worse than for couple households, whether the couples are heterosexual or homosexual. So what accounts for this?

It strikes me as a bit ironic that China disallowed single adoption for fear it would lead to lesbian-couple households. Looks like they should have allowed gay couples to adopt, but disallow singles as singles! (I'm not really serious about that -- one study doesn't tell us much. . . .)

All I've seen is the abstract, but the library is going to get the article for me. I would be interested in people's ideas before I read it. I'll post more after I see the article.


Wendy said...

I find this extremely interesting and one that should be further used/investigated to further the idea that homosexual couples are indeed capable and should be allowed to adopt.
As for the underlying reasons that children of singles may fair poorer is due to not having that other parent to go to when you just don't feel as comfortable with either mom or dad.
I think of it this way--M prefers me for her "deep" talks and will not come to her father when issues relate to the stuff that she is trying to figure out; however, she does talk with him about things she never mentions to me. I do the same with my parents--I am not adopted, but I think it is universal with kids--some of my topics are "dad only" and some are "mom only" as I think that person understands me in relation to that topic better. Maybe it is because there is no other parent that the feeling of all or nothing or just comfort in some areas and not others reveals itself in a study like this.
Just my thoughts on the matter.

Anonymous said...

Similarly, I am wondering whether children (whether adopted or not) from 2-parent households have less internalizing and externalizing behaviors than children from 1-parent households. Maybe adoption has nothing to do with it! For the record, I am a single parent and one of my adopted Chinese daughters has internalizing behaviors. However, she has a diagnosis associated with that which is typically genetic. So, I don't know that the nature of our household has anything to do with it. I wonder if they looked at other variables, such as family functioning, whether parents work outside the home, income, and other parenting behaviors that might affect behavioral adjustment. Finally I wonder if the adjustment of children from single parent households is sufficient. That they are different is not much of a problem if they can still be considered "well adjusted."
Sue (aka anonymous)

LisaLew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LisaLew said...

I also would like to see a larger patient sample population and know the demographics before a "definitive" conclusion is determined. As Sue mentioned, there are so many variables that can affect the outcome. For example, do the single moms have outside family support for the child (children)? I can think of a hundred questions, will be curious to see what you think of the rest of the information when received.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the size of the sample, as well as the way it was selected matters greatly in terms of interpreting the results. The sample size in this study is pretty small.

Anonymous said...

I agree, the sample size (small) and the way it was selected matter greatly in interpreting the results.

Anonymous said...

If I am reading the study correctly, lower scores are good. Thus where there are differences, the kids in the single parent households generally do better than the lesbian couples and about the same as married couples, except for sleep problems, where they slightly beat the other two groups. The kids with the lesbian parents do the worst in most of the comparisons where there was a difference. But overall there were many more similarities than differences. They did control for parent's education, income, kid's age at adoption and age at assessment. The lack of random selection and very small group size are problematic.
Sue (aka anonymous)

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