Saturday, 23 May 2009

So, those studies...

You will recall that we were basing our assertion that Amanda Platell was misleading and factually incorrect (twice) on a review by the American Psychological Association in 2005 on the existing literature on same-sex adoption which concluded:
"Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents."

We mentioned at the time the possibility that there may have been a paradigm shift in research since the publication of this report leading to a flurry of evidence contrary to this conclusion. You may have been concerned that you would complain to the PCC on the basis of information which turns out to be out of date.

It's a sensible concern, so let's resolve it together (check your tea-bag reserves now, this will take a while). Were there to be a shifting of academic plates leading to research findings of negative outcomes for adopted children of same-sex couples, we would expect to see papers published in peer-reviewed academic journals. So, if we looked at the electronic repositories of the major academic journal publishers for papers published on same-sex, homosexual, gay or lesbian adoption in the last 5 years, then sifted through the abstracts of the papers we found for relevant research, we would expect to find papers showing these negative outcomes.

Listed at the end of this post are the addresses of the electronic repositories for Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, Taylor and Francis/Routledge, Sage, Project MUSE (a collection of small, independent publishers), OUP, CUP and the Nature Publishing Group, plus the independently published Pediatrics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and BMJ and for PubMed, which lists research funded by the US National Institutes of Health. Between them, these repositories cover nearly 8,000 academic journals in the medical and social sciences, humanities and professions. If we cannot find studies reporting negative outcomes for children adopted by same-sex couples here, we can be fairly sure that any there are do not have the support of mainstream academia.

I encourage you to do this at home. As a tip, save CUP and OUP for when you're in a good mood, because their websites are rubbish. Don't try Taylor and Francis' unless you have some time free either, they publish an endoscopy journal seemingly contributed to solely by a French author with the surname 'Gay'. Unless I'm doing things badly wrong, your findings should resemble this:
  • There has actually been fairly little new research in this area since the APA's 2005 report. This is not really surprising - why look at a question that has already been answered, particularly when there's the whole question of smoking in gay and lesbian communities to look at? (Seriously, there is lots of research on same-sex smoking.)
  • There are about nine pieces of new investigative research published across the journals surveyed, with 7 being broadly positive, one being a study by Cameron which reported higher incidences of homosexuality in adoptees of same-sex couples (so is neither positive nor negative and comes with the Paul Cameron health warning) and one which was negative.
  • There are about nine reviews of the existing literature, all of which conclude that there are no negative outcomes for children of same-sex couples.
The negative study is Sirota (2009) Adult Attachment Style Dimensions in Women Who Have Gay or Bisexual Fathers Archives of Psychiatric Nursing doi:10.1016/j.apnu.2008.08.005, which concluded that "Women with gay or bisexual fathers were significantly less comfortable with closeness and intimacy less able to trust and depend on others and experienced more anxiety in relationships than women with heterosexual fathers". This is an interesting finding which deserves attention, as it directly contradicts Wainright and Patterson (2008) Peer Relations Among Adolescents With Female Same-Sex Parents Developmental Psychology 44:117-126 (who found no difference between attachments for same-sex and different-sex adoptees when they were adolescents), as well as research on attachment with parents which shows no difference between family-types (e.g. Erich et al. (2009) An empirical analysis of factors affecting adolescent attachment in adoptive families with homosexual and straight parents Children and Youth Services Review 31:398-404).

It is worth noting, however, that one study, in addition to the 'no evidence' prior to May 2004 constitutes neither an 'increasing weight of academic evidence' nor 'repeated academic studies', even were it uncontested. Accepting this study as genuine and interesting, it does not change the opinion that Amanda was both misleading and factually inaccurate. It is also worth noting that 7 positive studies in the last five years do constitute and 'increasing weight of academic evidence' and 'repeated academic studies' contrary to Amanda's position, underscoring the misleading nature of her statements. Rather than there being increasing evidence of harm to children from same-sex adoption, what evidence there is becomes more anomalous and doubtful as time goes on.

If you weren't happy complaining to the PCC on the back of evidence from the APA in 2005, that evidence is the same today. Amanda is inaccurate and misleading, and her readers need to have her statements corrected.
Elsevier – Science Direct ( [over 2,500 journals]
Springer – Springerlink ( [2099 journals]
Wiley – InterScience ( [1,870 journals]
Taylor and Francis/Routledge – Informaworld ( [900 journals]
Sage – Sage Online ( [520 journals]
Project MUSE ( [400 journals]
CUP – Cambridge Journals online (;jsessionid=252D3BAEEC8D14AC7216973F22A85F6D.tomcat1) [230 journals]
OUP – OUP Journals ( [200 journals]
Nature Publishing Group ( [100 journals]
Palgrave McMillan ( [80 journals]
Pubmed (
Proceedings of the (US) Academy of Sciences (
Pediatrics (

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