Family-building desires among adopted adolescents with lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parents

Abbie E. Goldberg, Lea Silvert, Rachel H. Farr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study qualitatively examined family-building desires of diverse adopted adolescents. Background: Research on parenting aspirations has rarely included youth with LGBTQ+ parents and/or from adoptive families. Understanding diverse adopted adolescents' feelings about parenthood may yield insights regarding identity and ideas about family. Methods: We conducted a thematic analysis of interview data from 48 adopted adolescents (27 were LGBTQ+) in the United States, aged 13 to 18, from lesbian, gay, and heterosexual two-parent families. Results: Most adolescents desired future parenthood, after achieving other normative milestones, and they typically did not feel familial or societal pressure to become parents. LGBTQ+ participants showed a preference for adoption while transracially adopted adolescents preferred biological parenthood. Conclusion: Guided by developmental approaches about identity and adoption, as well as queer family theory, we found that teenagers adopted by lesbian, gay, and heterosexual couples generally envisioned parenthood for themselves. Plans to do so varied by minoritized gender, sexual, and racial/ethnic identities. Thus, an intersectional perspective is imperative to understand youths' thoughts about family building. Implications: Our findings reveal insights into adopted adolescents' constructed future identities. Practitioners' understanding of adopted adolescents' development and future planning may be enhanced when adolescents' perspectives are considered.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFamily Relations
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Family Relations published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of National Council on Family Relations.


  • adolescence
  • adoption
  • diverse families
  • family building
  • LGBTQ+
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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