Abstract: Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Adoptive Parents' Attitudes Towards Racial Socialization Practices (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Adoptive Parents' Attitudes Towards Racial Socialization Practices

Friday, January 18, 2019: 2:45 PM
Union Square 17 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Sarah Dow-Fleisner, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, BC, Canada
Addie Wyman Battalen, MSW, LICSW, Doctoral Candidate, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Ruth McRoy, PhD, Donahue and DiFelice Endowed Professor of Social Work, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
David Brodzinsky, PhD, Research Director, National Center on Adoption and Permanency, CA
Background and Purpose: Increasing numbers of families are formed through transracial adoption in the United States, particularly among sexual minority (SM) parents. Families parented by SM individuals are often excluded from research regarding parenting practices related to transracial adoption, in part due to a lack of validated measures. Regardless of parental sexual orientation, it is important to understand the relationship between racial socialization and child wellbeing. Our study aimed to validate and examine measurement differences for a commonly used transracial scale with SM parents.

 Methods: Participants were from the Modern Adoptive Families study, an online survey of diverse adoptive families, including SM parents. This study sample included 903 adoptive parents (737 heterosexual parents, 102 lesbian mothers, and 64 gay fathers; Mage = 45 years). Adopted children had been placed early in life (Mage=1.68 years, SD=2.36), were with their families an average of 6.84 years (SD=4.22) and were an average of 8.47 years old during data collection (SD=4.77, [<1-17]). Most respondents were White (95%), married/partnered (77%), and college-educated (86%), with annual family income over $100,000 (57%). Participants self-reported socialization beliefs, perceptions, and feelings of self-efficacy about racial socialization using the 29-item Transracial Adoptive Parenting Scale (TAPS).

Results: Initial Cronbach’s alpha for the TAPS showed relatively high reliability across lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parents (ɑ = .92, .95, and .94, respectively). Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted with the TAPS to examine factor structure between groups separately, and then explore factor invariance based on parent sexual orientation. CFA analyses revealed a two-factor structure with covariance between the two latent constructs (Bias and Socialization) and fit the data well (χ2 (371) = 1628.4, p <.001; CFI = .906; RMSEA = .061 95% CI [.058-.064]). Similarly, the model was acceptable for heterosexual and LG parents separately, (χ2 (371) = 1398.80, p <.001; CFI = .905; RMSEA = .061 95% CI [.058-.065]) and (χ2 (371) = 761.19, p <.001; CFI = .844; RMSEA = .08, 95% CI [.072-.088]), respectively. However, it appears that the model fits slightly better for heterosexual parents. Finally, while the factor structure appeared to be similar between LG and heterosexual parents, there were differences in factor loadings, intercepts, and residual variances between LG and heterosexual parents, suggesting that the TAPS, while reliable, may be measuring a different latent construct for each group.

Conclusions and Implications: Findings are consistent with previous research indicating that SM parents agree that racial socialization practices are important. However, the TAPS, commonly used to measure racial socialization, may be measuring this construct differently between LG and heterosexual parents. Thus, it is not advised to use the overall mean score from the TAPS to compare transracial adoptive process between LG and heterosexual parents. As racial socialization practices can positively contribute to child’s psychological wellbeing, it is important to examine how current measurement tools may yield different results with heterosexual and LG parents. Future analyses should consider examining the TAPS using an item-response technique, which can provide a more sensitive means of examining measurement differences between groups.