NEW YORK -- About 60 percent of the nation's adoption agencies now accept applications from gays and lesbians, though resistance remains strong among many church-affiliated agencies, a new survey by a leading adoption institute says.
Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, predicted there would be fewer holdouts as more homosexuals try to become parents.
"We started out near zero, and just within the last decade we're up to 60 percent," said Pertman, a former Boston Globe reporter. "The reality on the ground is way outpacing the policy debate."
Debate over parenting by gays has been an important element in the broader dispute over whether to permit same-sex marriage. Opponents of gay adoption say children do best growing up with both a mother and father, and they contend same-sex marriages would make it easier for gays to adopt. Supporters say gays, whether single or as a couple, can provide a loving home for children who otherwise would be in institutions or foster care.
The Donaldson Institute survey did not attempt to estimate the number of children adopted by gays; instead, it surveyed 307 adoption agencies -- 277 private and 30 public -- regarding their policies.
According to the survey, 60 percent of the agencies accept applications from self-identified gays and lesbians, and 40 percent of the agencies have placed children with such parents.
The agencies most likely to place children with homosexuals were either public; private and secular; or Jewish- and Lutheran-affiliated, the institute said. Other agencies that were affiliated with religious denominations were less likely to welcome applications from gays, it said.
Attitudes also varied according to the agencies' focus. The institute said agencies specializing in children with special needs or in international adoptions were relatively more open toward gays.