'Gayby Boom' Fueled by Same-Sex Parents

Children of Gay Parents Come of Age

"There were few 'out' models of gay and lesbian-headed families 20 years ago," said David Wall, registrar at Princeton Theological Seminary. "Many folks were still in the closet or only partially out. That has now totally changed."

Elizabeth Wall was born at the height of the AIDS crisis in New Jersey and was at risk for being a "boarder baby," according to David Wall. "No one wanted these kids."

Her biological mother died of the disease, and Elizabeth Wall hersellf tested positive for antibodies until she was 2.

At 12, she was reconnected with her biological family, finding she had a sister, uncle, aunts and cousins.

But as a child, her adoptive parents made a point of having female role models in her life -- grandmother and trusted family friends. "I didn't long for a mother," she said.

There was only one support group in New Jersey, and the family had to travel one to two hours to find another gay couple with a child.

"Each year, new things would come up, and she was educating the teachers and classmates, daily," said David Wall.

Forms -- from schools to doctors to insurance companies -- were the biggest issue for the couple.

Annoyed by Forms and Afraid to Travel

"People just didn't ever imagine our family configuration," David Wall said. "I was constantly crossing out mother and father, mom's phone, mom's work, etc., and putting parent or simply crossing out mother and putting in second father. Our box just simply didn't exist."

When their first family photo appeared in their church directory, conservative groups made derogatory remarks. Wall and Houck were afraid to travel for fear they would not be recognized as their daughter's parents and always carried her birth certificate.

But by the time Elizabeth Wall got to high school, she was greeted by an openly gay principal and found a friend from a similar same-sex family.

"Churches are much more open to gay young people coming out, and families like ours are more visible," David Wall said. "And people are no longer afraid to talk about our families."

Cathy Renna, a Washington, D.C., lesbian, and her partner have a 4-year-old daughter through artificial insemination. They often attend Rosie O'Donnell family cruises and hear discussions by older children about the challenges of having gay parents.

"I was trying to imagine when she was a teenager what she would say," said Renna. "Most of the kids on the panel were the product of hetero marriages and the parents came out. That's totally different than being brought into the world by a same-sex couple."

"This generation of kids growing up will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about," she told ABCNews.com. "This kid could not be more loved or more wanted."

Less research has been done on children in families headed by gay men, but data collected as part of the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study have shown few differences in psychosexual development, psychological adjustment and overall well-being.

"Boys seem to do as well as girls," said Dr. Nanette Gartrell, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco and principal investigator in the 23-year study.

"Most offspring of same-sex parents are heterosexual as adults," she told ABCNews.com. "By the time our study kids were 10 years old, they demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of diversity and tolerance, and an appreciation of the destructive effects of discrimination."

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