Card image cap
Card image cap

Adopting a child as a gay couple: the experience of sexual minority parents in Belgium

Roberta Messina, Salvatore D’Amore

Research Framework: This study aims at analyzing the experience of same-sex adoption in Belgium, shedding light on the challenges encountered by sexual minorities during the adoption process and after adoption. Data presented in this article is part of a larger cross-national study conducted in three European countries: Belgium, France and Spain.
Objectives: This study has the purpose of answering the following research questions:
1. What are the main stressors experienced by same-sex couples during the adoption process in Belgium?
2. What are the main difficulties and the needs encountered by these parents after adoption?

Methodology: The sample is composed of 14 sexual minority adoptive parents (7 gay couples) living in Belgium. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with each couple at their home and video-registered. The interview verbatim was transcribed and analysed using an inductive thematic approach.

Conclusions: Results show that same-sex adopters deal with many institutional barriers, such as the “gay quota”, the high refusal rate of birth parents to entrust their children to same-sex couples and the heterosexist attitudes from adoption agencies. Furthermore, participants report that they do not feel adequately supported by social actors, whose theoretical and experiential knowledge concerning same-sex parenting is, according to them, shortcoming.

Contribution: The results of this research highlight two fundamental aspects. First, the urgency of adopting measures to avoid any form of discrimination; secondly, the need to increase the training of social workers and adapt the adoption process to better meet the demands of these new family configurations.