Worcester lecturer to co-lead major adoption study

A Senior Psychology Lecturer at the University of Worcester is jointly-leading a major new international study into the attitudes of professionals in placing adoptive children with lesbian and gay couples.

Dr Gabriela Misca will co-lead an international team of psychologists and adoption researchers along with Dr Rhoda Scherman, of AUT University New Zealand, as they develop an online attitudinal survey aimed at exploring the attitudes and views of social work and adoption professionals on the subject of same-sex adoption.

The first stage of the study – which began last month – is being funded by an AUT University Small Project Grant, and will run until December. The second phase of research, which will take place between January and May next year, will see data collected from professionals in the UK, New Zealand, the USA and Spain.

Dr Misca, who undertook a similar, UK-based study in 2012, explains the relevance of the project in this country: “Local authorities across the UK are finding themselves under increasing demand to deal with applications for adoption from gay or lesbian prospective adopters.

“Moreover, the recent radical review of adoption services in England was designed to increase the number of adoptions, widen the pool of adoptive applicants and reduce the costs incurred by keeping children unnecessarily in the looked after system of care,” she continues.

“In this context, lesbian and gay prospective adopters might represent an under-utilised resource. The proposed project will provide empirical evidence to inform the practice of social workers and adoption panels and agencies in the UK and worldwide.”

Dr Scherman adds: “Despite the recent increase in countries legalising same-sex marriage and recognising the rights of lesbian and gay couples to adopt children, some same-sex couples still report experiencing negative attitudes and treatment by adoption professionals.

“This discrimination and opposition creates unnecessary challenges and barriers for same-sex adoptive parents,” she continues.

Dr Jan Quallington, Head of the Institute of Health and Society at the University of Worcester, says: “I am delighted that such a topical international study is being co-led by one of our researchers.

“Our institute prides itself in conducting research that influences policy and practice and this research has clear potential to facilitate positive change in adoption practice in the UK and worldwide.”