Communication about children's origins among same-gender adoptive parent families in Belgium, France, and Spain

Roberta Messina, Rachel H. Farr, Fiona Tasker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study explored communication about children's origins among same-gender parent adoptive families. Background: Although this topic has been widely researched among different-gender parent adoptive families, communication about origins among those with same-gender parents, as well as sexual minority identity dynamics relevant to this crucial task, remain unexplored. Method: A sample of same-gender adoptive couples (N = 31) from Belgium, France, and Spain with children aged between 4 and 18 years (Mage = 8.9 years) participated in a semistructured interview and a graphic projective test aimed at explore their feelings and communication process about their adopted child's birth family. Results: Inductive thematic analysis yielded a continuum of three main stances conveyed by adoptive parents regarding their child's origins: (a) critical/minimization, (b) cautious/uncertainty, and (c) open/validation. The first (critical/minimization) was associated with experiences of sexual minority stigma and poorer communication about children's origins and sexual minority family-related issues, while the second (cautious/uncertainty) was characterized by mixed feelings (i.e., at times open, at times critical) in communicating about origins and parents' sexual minority experiences. The third (open/validation) was associated with positive feelings toward adoptive and sexual minority family statuses, as well as identity integration as a lesbian or gay parent and low internalized sexual stigma. Conclusion: Our findings underline the importance of sexual minority identity issues in relation to communication about children's origins in same-gender parent adoptive families. Implications: These findings have important implications for both adoption assessment and therapeutic work with same-gender adoptive parent families.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1379-1400
Number of pages22
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 National Council on Family Relations.


  • adopted children
  • birth family connections
  • family communication
  • lesbian and gay adoptive parents
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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