Wednesday, February 16, 2011

State of Depression

Couples looking to adopt are generally evaluated to ensure that they are ready to take on the responsibility of parenthood.This is done to guarantee that the well-being of a child will be met. But what happens when it isn’t the home or the adoptive parents that negatively impacts a child? What happens when it is the environment in which they reside that does?

According to Dr. Abbie Goldberg of Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts and Julianna Smith, states with anti-gay adoption laws and attitudes are more detrimental to the well-being of a child adopted by a same-sex couple than that child being raised by a same-sex couple in general. This is because same-sex adoptive parents residing in "homophobic" states are more likely to develop mental health issues within the first year of parenthood than those residing in states that are more accepting of same-sex couple adoptions. 

Although other studies show that heterosexual couples too experience an increase in depression and anxiety in early parenthood, Goldberg states that these parents usually recover. Ninety same-sex couples, 52 lesbian and 38 gay males, were studied by Goldberg and Smith during their first year of being adoptive parents. The study found that gay and lesbian adoptive parents living in states with unfavorable laws of gay adoption had an increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety. These high levels of depression and anxiety do notonly affect the couples, but they could also negatively affect their children as well, especially if there are not supportive workplaces, families, and neighborhoods.

Goldberg and Smith’s study found that same-sex couples with adopted children living in an environment where their family and workplaces were more accepting of same-sex couple adoption had better mental health than those that did not. This means that the well-being of their adoptive children was better protected. My question is: if the state is to provide a safe environment for all of its citizens, how can it possess laws discriminative and detrimental to the well-being of its citizens, and worse, their children? Goldberg and Smith’s study is the first to look at lesbian and gay mental health among new adoptive parents, but how many more must be conducted before something is done to resolve the matter? Time will tell.

Warning: Anti-Gay States May be Hazardous to Your Health

- Lynencia Elliott

Photo by Emma Watters

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