Barriers to adoption and foster care and openness to child characteristics among transgender adults

Abbie E. Goldberg, Samantha Tornello, Rachel Farr, Juli Anna Z. Smith, Liam Miranda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose: This exploratory study reports findings from 448 transgender (trans) adults, 774 cisgender sexual minority men (CSMM), and 1514 cisgender sexual minority women (CSMW) in the United States, all of whom indicated an openness to adopting/fostering. Specifically, it reports trans adults’ fears of discrimination and openness to child characteristics in the adoption/foster care process, relative to cisgender sexual minority parents. Methods: An online survey was distributed by Clark University and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), with the goal of understanding LGBTQ individuals’ attitudes, perceptions, and experiences related to adoption and foster care. Results: Trans adults reported more fears of discrimination regarding gender expression, gender identity, finances, and social support than CSMM and CSMW. Trans participants and CSMW expressed fewer fears of discrimination related to sexual orientation and more fears about mental health-related discrimination than CSMM. Trans adults were more open to children over 12, with behavior problems, with a mental health diagnosis, and who are trans, than CSMM and CSMW. Trans adults and CSMW were more open than CSMM with regard to a sibling group, as well as children of color, with a physical disability, and who are LGBQ. Conclusion: Trans prospective adopters/foster carers experience heightened fears surrounding potential barriers to adopting and fostering, but also demonstrate remarkable willingness to adopt “hard to place” children (i.e., children that have been historically overrepresented in the child welfare system). Adoption professionals should seek to support them in their efforts to become parents, while also ensuring that they have the resources needed to be successful.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104699
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Adoption
  • Discrimination
  • Foster care
  • Gay
  • Hard to place
  • Lesbian
  • Trans
  • Transgender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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