Parental Care Of Adopted Children Of Same Sex Couples In The United Kingdom

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Introduction And Background

The purpose of this research is to assess whether emotional and development needs of children adopted by the same sex couples in UK being met or not? With this scenario, there are many studies that have attempted to address the issues of the same sex couples and their children. Most of these researches are based on the United States of America. In this context, most recent UK study of Mellish et. al. (2013, pp. 37) "Gay, Lesbian and Heterosexual Families" analyzed family relationships, child adjustment and adopter's experiences. Findings from this study were that parents in all type of family generally show high levels of psychological well being to children. It was also found from this study that children of adoptive parents were functioning well. However, the concerns that children of same sex couples could have problems with gender identity, sex role behavior, adjusting well at school and relates well with friends are not supported by the study. There are evidences of issues affecting parents of same sex couples and bulling and teasing of some of the children in the target group.

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Research Objectives

In order to conduct this research following research objectives are considered majorly:

  • To determine the basic and emotional needs, of adoptive children to same sex parents.
  • To determine if the needs of children of same sex parents differ from those of heterosexual parents.
  • To determine if same sex parents require particular skills and attitudes in order to meet the needs of adoptive children.
  • To determine if additional supports are needed before and continuous for same sex parents to achieve successful adoption.
  • To determine if there is need to review the criteria used to assess candidates for same sex parents.
  • To recommend the role of social workers and other professionals in actualizing effective and efficient same sex parental care in order to met the particular needs of their children.

Focused Research Paper for this Study

This study examined six researches to see if the same conclusions can be reached through literature reviews. It defines both emotions and developmental needs of children in order to answer the research questions and research objectives.

Rolfe (2011, pp. 4) defines emotions “are all the feelings we as human beings experience in our lifetimes. The author explains further that emotions prompt us to take actions in different situations. The way we feel makes us to take actions. The basic emotions suggested are happiness, interest, surprise, fear, anger and sadness.

Newmark (2005) suggested five critical emotional needs of children as need to feel respected, need to feel important, need to feel accepted, need to feel included and need to feel secure. Children need to feel respected within their environment by feeling valued and empowered, and to be included in any decision making especially in matters that affect them. Newmark (2005) argues that if children do not feel important, it is possible that the children will show negative ways to get attention. The need to feel accepted means that we must consider the children's wishes and feelings at all times. The recognition of this allows children to feel accepted and promotes better relationship among their parents (Newman, 2005). The author argues that children feel that they are included in the family community. This still depends on their ages. But even the younger ones require attention. The final point in this context is the need for security. This ensures that children are able to function in a secured environment where there is active participation and engagement from family members.

The Children's Aid Society (CAS) identifies seven developmental needs of children to include for physical activity, competence, achievement, for self definition, for creative expression, positive social interaction, for structure and clear limits, need for meaningful participation and need for strong attachment with positive adults. There points are common to both emotional and developmental needs.
With this scenario is general, present research is conducted with a motive to find out if most of the points for both emotional and developmental needs are met.

Historical Background of Homosexuality in the United Kingdom

The history of homosexuality sex between two women and sex with both men and women dates back many years. It appears to have been in existence since humanity started socializing (Fannin et al.(2008). According to Boswell (1979) cited in Fannin et al. (2008), were never reported until The Buggery Act, 1553 made it a criminal offence to indulge in sodomy. The penalty was a death penalty which was repealed in 1861. It is reported by the same authors that The Wolfenden Report recommended that homosexuality should not be treated as a criminal offence in 1957 (cited in http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthis-day). The Sexual Offences Act, 1967 was the first action on Wolfenden’s Report. Homosexual activities in private household were not criminalized, provided that both the parties were over 21 years old. Other significant changes included were the section 28 of 1988, which precluded Local Authorities from promoting homosexuality and schools were not allowed to teach homosexuality. In 1994, the UK lowered the age of consent between two gay men to 18 years. In 2000, gay people were allowed to serve in the army. This was very important because until then, homosexuals in the army could not allow their colleagues and the authorities know their sexualities. The achievements were only achieved on the back of serious campaigns and lobbying. With all these developments, need of parenting arise gradually among same sex couples and they inclined towards adopting baby in order to address their needs. With this scenario, there are different laws and setting that developed with time which supporting same sex couple in adopting child either a biological kid of any of the party or from other sources. According to Adoption and Children Act 2002 in UK, Parliament announced that adoption of child can be done either by single parents or couples by dropping earlier law of married. With this changes, gay and lesbian can plan baby adoption without any problem.

Later Developments in Liberalizing Homosexuality

The developments of 2001 to 2003

During this period three important developments took place. In 2001, the age of consent was reduced to 16 years and male rape was criminalized for the first time. Two years later, section 28, making Local Government and Schools not to promote and teach homosexuality was discontinued. In 2003, the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations were introduced to treat homosexuals the same in employment as their heterosexual counter – parts. These developments did not just happen. They happened on the back of sustained campaign by the stakeholders (Fannin et al., 2008)

The developments from 2004 to the present

One of the main achievements of the same – sex couples was The Civil Partnership Act, 2005 which allow same – sex partners similar legal rights enjoyed by heterosexual marital status. In the same year, same – sex couples were able to adopt children, if they so desired.(Fannin, et al.(2008). This was a major break -through because the same – sex couples were able to become parents for the first time through adoption. During 2013, same- sex couples were allowed to get married. In 2014, many gay couples got married in open ceremonies. Similar ceremonies took place in the USA. There are still opponents of same – sex on religious and cultural grounds. It appears that opponents will not change their positions because of their religious beliefs.

Social Attitudes towards Homosexuality

According to BSA (2004) the attitude of people in the UK towards Homosexuality is still strong, though there is trend towards more liberalisation. The developments in the USA under President Obama appears to influenced Prime Minister, Gordon to take bold steps to reducing the difference the rights of same – sex people and the rights of heterosexual people.

Health and Care Professional Council

The Professional Council offers 13 guidance on conducts and ethics for social workers and this guidance is designed to prescribe the minimum standard of conduct required for social workers in order to protect service users (Health and Care Professions Council, 2012). Social workers are required to work in an anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive way. This is both largely vital and relevant when working with same sex couples as this tends to be a ‘gray’ area in Social Work. It is essential for social care workers to understand the parental care of same sex couples and hence offers sound association with the same so that it can be fulfilled in an effective manner. Another role of this is that they offer training and consultant regarding skills that required with a motive of adopting a child successfully. Also, they are liable to deliver extra supports towards concerned couples so that better adoption practice can be carried out.

Summary of Professional Capabilities Framework

There are two levels of qualifying descriptor; the first one requires social workers to show that they have acquired the knowledge, skills and values to work with different user groups at the foundation level. Social workers are required to uphold nine professional capabilities in order to function as professionals. Social worker through this framework able to identify the needs and requirement of same sex couples and hence can incorporate suitable steps in this regard so that better results can be attained through it. It has been seen that same sex couples are not a balanced couples and therefore they are not in a position to fill the place of opposite sex when adopting and parenting kids. In this context, social care worker through PCF is able to offer crucial information from which better learning to couples can be attained.

However, issue of values and ethics are very important in social work. In executing their services with special reference to same sex couple, social workers must operate ethically in decision making and the promotion of equality so that this particular practice can be conducted in an effective manner. This gives emphasis on working with service users groups of same sex couples who plan to adopt; as these individuals should be treated with dignity and respect. Practitioners should take into account the laws and regulations that uphold equality irrespective of ‘race, disability, class, economic status, age, sexuality, gender, faith and belief.’ (http://www.tcsw.org.uk/pcf.asp). Hence, with the help of present research a rational will be developed through which social care worker can assist in meeting out with diverse needs of individuals with special reference to parental need that are in relation with same sex.

Research Methodology

My interest in this topic arose from the moral dilemma I faced when one of my relatives who are in a same sex relationship adopted two children. Initially I was confused as to how I would relate to them and form an attachment. The questions that were going through my minds were: Is this right? How might this affect the children? What could be the implications for them?With family support and continuous training and learning throughout my Social Work course, I have been able to understand the issues involved with same sex adoptions and the way social workers can support both children and parents.

The method of study is a literature review. According to Aveyard (2010), ‘literature review is the comprehensive study and interpretation of the literature that relates to a particular topic’. This research was compiled using a mixed method approach which includes both qualitative and quantitative data. I used this approach as I found that this particular topic was fairly new with limited amount of research available so I thought it would be necessary to include quantitative techniques to form my conclusion. Aveyard (2010) states that a systematic research method is an effective research method that evaluates primary research reports that were compiled using either quantitative or qualitative techniques or both.

The quantitative and qualitative techniques were evaluated because the literature reviews include studies that both methods have been used. To be able to evaluate studies that techniques have been used, the two techniques were evaluated.

Research design

The research design shows how the research plan was carried out. It is an account of the study processes to have a common knowledge of what the study involves. (Kumer, 2005; Bryman, 2008). It explains how the way the result was conducted and the problems encountered when conducting the study.

The literature review was the preferred approach with the application of systematic principles, which shows that the research is honest and reputable with regards to the validity of the findings and conclusions. The inclusion date covers from the 1950s because it is important to show the historical perspective of the changes of attitudes towards same sex couples from the 1950's to date. The design approach started with the research plan that was approved by the department in line with the Bedfordshire University‘s guideline.

In this context, I found an authoritative research commissioned by British Association for Adoption & Fostering titled "Gay, Lesbian and Heterosexual Adoptive Families (Family relationships, child adjustments and adopter" experiences by a Cambridge University led by Professors M.E. Lamb and Susan Glombok. It was a very informative UK study on same sex couples and adoption. After critically evaluating its findings and recommendations, the conclusions and final thought created a small gap for this study. The main issue is that the children of heterosexual families, gay and lesbians of adoptive families featured in the study had similar experiences regardless of their parents’ sexual orientation. The vital part of the study showed that, ‘bullying and teasing’ were some of the issues experienced by adoptive children in secondary schools. The study also recommended that ‘only follow up’s would reveal the true outcome for these children. This still creates the need to use qualitative technique to address the particular needs of the adoptive children of same sex couples.

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Research Methods

Aveyard (2010) suggests three types of research in health and social care. These are systematic reviews, quantitative research and qualitative research. She argues that systematic literature review involves examining all the existing evidence relevant to the research question. The piece of work will either be qualitative or qualitative research.

Quantitative Research Technique

Quantitative research, also known as positivist research according to Best and Khan (1990) are studies that concern the collection and analysis of numeric data. This technique is based on a predetermined research objective which requires proofing a theory using statistical techniques to analyse the data. The proof could support the theory or not. The respondents are either randomly selected or use other sampling. This study could prove cause and effects, for example why something happened, causes and the conditions under which the events take place, etc. It normally includes hypothesis testing and empirical testing. The tests can be repeated and the same result will be achieved.

It is easy to control quantitative researches through sampling and design. The sampling technique of random sampling in which every item in the population have an equal chance of been selected to be included in the study is the most popular. The research design allows a proposal to be put forward and approved, including time scales for each activity. It is therefore easier to manage the schedules and the costs associated with the completion of each stage and monitor the progress made (Hughs, 2004). The statistical techniques make it possible to undertake sophisticated analysis and this can be done through variety of advanced research data analyses packages like SPSS. These packages calculate the mean, median, range, standard deviation, correlation, regression, test of significance and other important figures based upon the variables collected (Coughlan et al, 2007). The quantitative research technique is replicable, that is, repeated as a proof of credibility and proof of reliability. This is a very important advantage because the same tested and agreed technique could be used for other studies of similar nature and the results and outcomes should be of the highest standard too (Coughan et al., 2007).

In spite of this, there are various limitations of using quantitative tools in a research study. It doesn't aids in assessing human behaviour as it is of complex nature and also involves uncertainty. Moreover, human behaviour cannot be judged on the basis of physical science and therefore quantitative research will not be applied in this context. Further, More attention is paid to the numeral figures and ignores the people factor. Avery thing is based on the calculated figures, but human factor is the foundation of any organisational effectiveness and performance. (Hughs, 2004). The assumption is that quantitative research produces facts which are true for all people and all of the people all the time. This is completely at variance with actualities.

Qualitative Research

This form of research has certain characteristics, like the researchers are immersed in the research themselves, the context of inquiry is not determined in advance, they are expected to be natural occurrences, the researchers interact with the people studied and they are expected to speak for themselves. The definitions of Ely et al and Sherman and Webb (1988) is that qualitative implies a direct concern with experience as it is ‘lived’ or ‘felt’ or ‘undergone’. In qualitative study, researcher wants to find out the experiences as nearly as possible as its participants who feel it or live (Hughes,2004).

However, there are various strengths of this particular method in a research. It include insider view, suggesting possible causes, effects and dynamic process, more descriptive and narrative, it’s said to add ‘more ‘weight’ to social analysis. Also, the involvement of the researcher in the study is more in-depth which enables them to understand more about the area and subject matter of study. This detailed understanding makes the findings more relevant to the purpose (Hughes, 2004). The description is useful in suggesting possible relationships ‘causes, effects and dynamic processes. The qualitative research emphasises description and narration style. This form is more important and would benefit professional health workers including social workers. The qualitative adds more “flesh and blood” to analysis. Obviously, more reading and evaluating more imprecise information is required (Somekh and Lewin, 2005).

In addition to it, there are various limitations also of this particular method that certainly affects the outcome of research. Under this, research reliability or validity is always an issue that affects the interpretation of the result. The interpretation is always on degree of subjectivity. The contexts, situations, events and conditions cannot be repeated and obtain the same result. There will be limited generalisation based on the results. The data collection, time for analysis and interpretation is too long compared to a more quantitative approach that the key figures are made available in a short time (Punch, 2009). Finally, the use of one method does not necessarily preclude the use of the other. Both quantitative and qualitative research approaches could be used in the same study. For example, the quantitative technique normally suitable for testing theories can be used to explore an area in order to generate hypotheses and theory (Hughes, 2004).

Justifications of Techniques used in this Research

Considering this, present study has incorporated qualitative research methods in order to ensure that most effectual and desired results get attained through it. This is so taken into account because with the help of theoretical analysis only actual identification of parental care can be assessed and also it supports in gaining better insight of the same. Further, it was not possible to analyze the parental need of same sex couples in a quantify manner as it is a human behaviour and mentality which is best judged through different theories. In this regard, literature review is taken into account as it is effective in evaluating the primary resources carried out by many researchers using both quantitative and qualitative research approaches (Rogelberg, 2008). The objective is evaluating the researches covering same sex couples and the needs of both children and parents. For this purpose, different set of research is examined i.e. British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), bulling and teasing and other related. With the help of this research, use of literature review makes it possible to compare the best practices in countries like USA and Australia from which desired set of inferences can be developed. Further, chosen research approach of qualitative research promotes understanding of the subject’s perspectives as against the researcher. In addition to it, qualitative research is also incorporated because it certainly assisted in evaluating different set of journals with the help of thematic methods. Hence, by considering all these factors, qualitative analysis has been incorporated in present research and it essentially supported in attaining most required set of results. Same is not been possible is employed quantitative set of research methods in this study.

Data Collection

For any research, it is essential to collect certain sort of data as per the requirement of subject matter and research issue so that effective and required set of results can be attained through it. It acts as a base from which pattern got identified and hence each set of research objectives can be addressed significantly. Considering this, there are two prominent methods through which data can be collected namely primary and secondary data (Crowther and Lancaster, 2012). As far as present research is concerned, secondary data has been collected and same is evaluated in order to gain inferences out of it. For this purpose, a total of eight researches are reviewed with a motive to gain insight from it and to leads towards the objectives of this study. Research that assessed for these purpose are "Gay, Lesbian And Heterosexual Adoptive Families: Family relationships, child adjustment and adopters’ experiences (2013)", "Children of same sex parents deserve the security blanket of parentage presumption (2006)", "How Does the Gender of Parents Matter? ByJ. Biblarz and Judith Stacey (2010)", "The Forgotten Children: Same –sex Partners, Their Children and Unequal Treatment by Debra Carrasquillo Hedges (2000)", "Wainwright, Russell and Patterson (2004) in Meezam and Rauch (2005)", "Golombok and others (2003)", "Chan, Raboy, and Patterson (1998)", "Brewaeys and others (1997)" and last is "Evaluating the welfare of the child in same – sex families (2011)".

All these were taken into account because these are few of the prominent research that took place in this field and hence ample amount of data get attained through it. Further, primary data collection will be more time consuming and lengthy process therefore same is not been practiced in this context. In addition to it, secondary data assisted in gaining different set of information along with varied viewpoint over the subject matter through which better and effectual results get attained. With the help of it, trend and pattern of meeting out with the needs of children of same sex couple get attained and hence each set of research objectives get attained through it.

However, there are certain inclusion criteria that were incorporated while selecting journals. Studies from 1990 to the present are included and old studies that took place prior to this are not taken into account of both children legislations and changes affecting same sex partnership and marriage. Further, researches included are those relating to adoption not those related to pregnancy through the pregnancy clinics because these are not adoption in the context of the study. The researches in the United Kingdom, USA and Australasia are included because the laws of adoption practices and research standards are similar. However, researches included are those published in English. The rationale behind this is that it will be too time consuming and expensive to try to translate studies in other languages. Additionally, researches published by known academics, published in well known professional journals and internet websites are included. Also, historical background from the 1950's to the present day is included to show the trends in a desired manner.

On the other hand, unpublished and studies not written in English are excluded from this study. Researches carried out in developing countries whose laws and attitude towards same sex and adoption are excluded and study that does not belongs to well known institution are avoided from this study.

Sampling

It has been noticed that there are wide range of data available over a specific subject matter and it is required to segregate according to need so that required results can be attained through it. Moreover, it also aids in accumulating only concerned set of data with a motive to progress with research in a cost effective manner and also to complete it in a set determined time frame. With this scenario, there are two prominent methods through which sampling can be conducted. These are probabilistic and non-probabilistic (Murphy, 2009). Sampling is required in present study also because it is quite challenging to choose few of the journals over same sex couple from the ocean of research material. For this purpose, non probabilistic sampling is taken into account so that appropriate and required journals can be selected. Under this, snowball sampling is incorporated in which one study is refereed for data collection, then its bibliography is accessed in order to identify the materials for further reading and so forth. In this context, I first reviewed "Gay, Lesbian and Heterosexual Adoptive Families: Family relationships, child adjustment and adopters’ experiences (2013)" as according to me, it is most suitable for the following research. Afterward, bibliography of this study is referred in order to progress with this research in an significant manner and also to save time in searching for relevant materials. In addition to it, data that collected with the help of this sampling technique is stored in dairy so that it can be assessed and evaluated in a significant manner. Moreover, it aids in deriving findings from this journals so that trend can be identified through it.

Data Analysis

After collecting data, it is required to analyze the same so that research issue can be addressed with it and also conclusion can be attained through it. This supports researcher in answering question with the help of findings that attained from analysis of data. Considering this, present research has incorporated qualitative analysis through which concerned literature get evaluated in a desired manner and hence address research question effectively. For the purpose of analysing, thematic technique is taken into account in which different themes is developed as per the subject matter so that findings can be attained through it (Jager, 2008). In this context, relevant researches were evaluated in order of hierarchy of evidence showing the research questions, objectives, methodology and findings. Comments were made to show how the findings compare to other studies. Where the original study includes tables that are essential for highlighting the data, an adapted version of the table is used and properly referenced.

Validity and Reliability of Data

In order to conduct this study in a significant manner and also to attain reliable and validate results from this study, efforts are incorporated for the same. In this context, four principles of Beauchamp and Childress are taken into account with a motive to attain effectual results from it. With the help of it, ethical situation regarding same sex couple get assessed so that it doesn't hamper the interest of these people. These four principles that are concerned in this study are as follows:

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Autonomy: In this research, full right is offered to individuals in order to make his or her choice. Also, no questioning over same sex couples is imposed through this research. Only this specific situation is studied with the help of different journals that available from different source. Also, journals that are assessed for this research is as per the permission of author.

Beneficence: In addition to it, efforts are also incorporated by me to gain best knowledge about the subject matter and also to attain crucial information regarding this. Further, study is conducted in a manner through which interest of same sex couples doesn't get hampered (Thiruvengadam, 2004).

Non-maleficence: It is also ensure that no harm is caused to any of the party from this particular study. Every participants of this research is treated with due care and also safe environment is offered.

Justice: In addition to it, no unfair means and illegal method is employed in this particular research is employed. This is so considered so that overall validity and reliability of research can be attained through it (Singh, 2007).

Apart from this, efforts are incorporated on other base also so that validate results can be attained through it. First of all, biasness is the issue that can affect any research and therefore same is avoided in this research. Journals are selected on the basis of snowball sampling and rooms of convenient are avoided largely. With this specific and efficient results get attained and hence overall validity and reliability of the study got increased. Moreover, efforts are incorporated over ethical ground also so that research doesn't hamper any of the member in any manner. In addition to it, journals are stored in a desired manner so that it can be accessed in future in order to gain crucial information from it. Ethicalities have been applied throughout this research, the upholding of this was extremely vital in relation to confidentiality and the privacy of others. Beauchamp and Childress identify four main principles in relation to ethicalities all of which I adhered too, to ensure that any research that I considered or used would take into account the privacy and confidentiality of participants, the avoidance of deception, and harm, affiliation and any conflict of interest.

Limitation of the Study

While conducting this study, there arises certain limitation and barriers in this from which findings can be influenced. In this context, one of the foremost limitations is that I only relied upon secondary data for the purpose of analysis and gaining findings from it. This methodology may not assist me in gaining actual inferences about the subject matter and hence I may not able to assess the needs of same sex couple and their children in a significant manner. Another set of limitation is that few of the journals are not accessible and therefore it has been omitted from this study. It has also been viewed that there are various research study that requires purchasing for accessing it and same is refrained from this study. This practice may confined me to selected journals only which might be not that effective than the refrained one. Moreover, cost is another limitation to this study and therefore cost effective approach is only incorporated in this study.

References

  • Murphy, L., 2009. A qualitative approach to researching management competences. Executive Development.
  • Jager, D. P., 2008. Panel data techniques and accounting research. Meditari Accountancy Research.
  • Crowther, D. and Lancaster, 2012. Research Methods. Routledge.
  • Punch, F. K., 2009. Introduction to Research Methods in Education. SAGE.
  • Somekh, B. and Lewin, C., 2005. Research Methods in the Social Sciences. SAGE Publications.
  • Singh, K., 2007. Quantitative Social Research Methods. SAGE.
  • Rogelberg, G. S., 2008. Handbook of Research Methods in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Aveyard, H. are. (2010) Doing a Literature Review in Health and Social Care. A practical Guide.
  • Bibarz, T.J. and Stacey, J.(2010). How Does Gender of Parents Matter?
  • Buckley, K. and Head, P. (2000) Myths, risks & Sexuality. Russell House Publishing.
 

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