2 Million Kids Raised By Gay Couples Are at Risk, Says Study

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Studies Show Kids 'Develop Well'

Studies here and abroad have shown that children can be raised in a healthy environment, regardless of the composition of their family.

Children of same-sex couples "grow in similar ways" as those of heterosexual parents, according to Charlotte J. Patterson, a professor of psychology at University of Virginia and director of women and gender studies.

She studied pre-school children living in states where their same-sex parents were legally recognized by the law and found "overall, they are developing very well as a group and not different in their adjustment, whether their parents were gay or straight."

When Roldan met Reighard they knew they wanted children. Roldan, 45 and a bank manager, had two now-grown children from a previous marriage. They said it made sense for Reighard to get pregnant.

The North Carolina health clinic where they went for artificial insemination would only do it for same-sex couples within a 150-mile radius and also required them to go to counseling, something not required of heterosexual couples.

Their lawyer told them they could try to get a second parent adoption, which would have cost $5,000 to $7,000, but then the state invalidated adoptions for gay couples.

When Zoe was sick, their lawyer managed to fax the required legal paper to the hospital several hours later. "We are blessed we can afford this -- it cost several thousand dollars," said Reighard. "Others can't."

"It frightens me," she said. "If Lisa couldn't be there, it would have impacted Zoe's recovery if she didn't have familiar faces in the hospital. It was scary for her to begin with and not to have her mom there would be worse."

Since then, the couple has had to arrange for more legal papers so Roldan can pick Zoe up at school and take her to doctor's appointments and to provide for protections in their wills, parenting agreements and health care directives.

Reighard's parents live nearby and help with the child care and are supportive of the relationship. Should she die, Reighard said they would honor her partner's parenting rights.

But, they worry that if Roldan were to take Zoe to Pennsylvania to see her other grandparents, they would have to make sure to bring along the child's papers, "just in case something happens," said Reighard.

"There are so many children in the South because of such an emphasis on family values," said Reighard. "They get married young."

But attitudes toward gay couples are conservative and sometimes hurtful and Reighard worries about when Zoe will go to school.

"It is not uncommon here for people to say 'You are so gay' or outright 'fag,'" she said. "It makes me fear for Zoe. "Kids are cruel to begin with and if there is any otherness about you, they magnify it."

"I would like to think things are changing, but because Southerners see some of these changes in the North, they are almost digging their heels in even more," said Reighard "These are not just old, antiquated laws. They are creating new ones."

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