Families come in many different forms. In particular, advances in medical technology are expanding the concept of the family now more than ever. Unfortunately, the social acceptance of some families has lagged behind the technology. But what is the impact, if any, on children born via assisted reproductive technology (ART)? A recent article in Reproductive Biomedicine Online by Susan Golombok of the University of Cambridge in England looks at 40 years of research, including her own longitudinal studies, and answers that question.
The article breaks down its findings into the following categories of family. Here are the highlights:
1) Lesbian mother families
“The studies showed that children who had been raised by lesbian mothers from birth were functioning just as well as children with a mother and a father.” In fact, “it was found that the children showed fewer psychological problems than other children at age 10.”
2) Different-sex donor conception families
“The findings indicated more positive parent-child relationships in the donor conception families when the children were in their preschool years than in the comparison group of families formed without assisted reproduction, irrespective of the type of donor conception used, and the children showed high levels of psychological adjustment.”
“We also identified longer-term benefits of early disclosure; although the children generally showed positive psychological adjustment, those who were first told about their conception when they were very young had better relationships with their mothers at age 14.”
3) Surrogacy families
By age 14, children born through surrogacy were found to be consistently “flourishing.” When these children were asked about their feelings about being born through surrogacy, “only one expressed unhappiness, the majority were largely uninterested, and a few saw it as an advantage.”
4) Gay father families
When two-parent gay father families were compared to two-parent lesbian mother families, the gay fathers’ relationships with their children were determined to be equal in substance to that of the relationship between lesbian mothers and their children. The author concluded that this shows that fathers can parent just as well as mothers; it may just be society’s view of gender roles that are lacking.
5) Single mothers by choice
“A comparison between families with single mothers by choice and two-parent families, all with donor-conceived children aged between 4 and 9 years, found that the children of single mothers by choice were just as close to their mothers, and just as well-adjusted, as the children in two-parent families.”
Conclusion of the article
The article concludes that having the so-called traditional family model is not necessary for children to thrive. “[T]he number, gender, sexual orientation, and biological relatedness of parents matters less for children than previously thought.” Instead, what matters is the well-being of their parents, the quality of their relationship with their parents, the support of their wider community, and the attitudes of the society in which they live. The new studies are in: children born via ART are just as likely, and sometimes more likely, to thrive than other children.
At The Law Center, S.C., we recognize that families come in many forms, and we respect all of them. We are committed to protecting families, no matter what they look like. As leaders in adoption and ART law at the national and state level, our attorneys will advocate for your family.