Gay Dads

Transitions to Adoptive Fatherhood

251 pages

1 table

July, 2012

ISBN: 9780814732243



Also available in


Abbie E. Goldberg is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Clark University (Worcester, MA), and senior research fellow at the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute (Newton, MA). She is the author of Lesbian and Gay Parents and their Children: Research on the Family Life Cycle and co-editor of LGBT-Parent Families: Innovations in Research and Implications for Practice.

All books by Abbie E. Goldberg

When gay couples become parents, they face a host of questions and issues that their straight counterparts may never have to consider. How important is it for each partner to have a biological tie to their child? How will they become parents: will they pursue surrogacy, or will they adopt? Will both partners legally be able to adopt their child? Will they have to hide their relationship to speed up the adoption process? Will one partner be the primary breadwinner? And how will their lives change, now that the presence of a child has made their relationship visible to the rest of the world?

In Gay Dads: Transitions to Adoptive Fatherhood, Abbie E. Goldberg examines the ways in which gay fathers approach and negotiate parenthood when they adopt. Drawing on empirical data from her in-depth interviews with 70 gay men, Goldberg analyzes how gay dads interact with competing ideals of fatherhood and masculinity, alternately pioneering and accommodating heteronormative “parenthood culture.” The first study of gay men's transitions to fatherhood, this work will appeal to a wide range of readers, from those in the social sciences to social work to legal studies, as well as to gay-adoptive parent families themselves.


  • "Abbie Goldberg’s book is yet another example of her rigorous and insightful research on LGB families. Writing a book that is both accessible and theoretically informed, Goldberg describes the complexity of gay men’s fathering as experienced through everyday decision making and social organization. Further, she argues against easy categorization of gay fathers as resisters or accommodators, and instead explains their decisions and experiences by showing how even the most prosaic moments (like people’s reactions to two fathers passing their child back and forth in a restaurant) oblige gay fathers to negotiate ideologies and opportunity structures in complicated ways. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it to family researchers and graduate students, as well as adoption workers and clinicians. Gay men and lesbians considering parenthood would find it helpful, as would heterosexual men and women seeking to resist heteronormativity in their own lives. Really, anyone who wants to learn more about families should read this book."

    —Ramona Faith Oswald, Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • "Gay Dads is a lucid, insightful study of the transition to parenthood among the first generation of gay male couples able to choose to adopt children and form nuclear families rather than to create queer 'families of choice.' Prominent family scholar Abby Goldberg sensitively explores what happens to family practice, politics and theory now that these former family outlaws have begun to acquire in-laws."

    —Judith Stacey, author of Unhitched: Love, Marriage and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China

  • "The transition to parenthood is filled with hopes, desires, unexpected twists and turns, and a myriad of emotions. Although typically a joyful experience, it can also be stressful, challenging parents in ways they did not anticipate. This is especially true for families headed by individuals or couples who do not conform to heteronormative models of parenting. In her new book, Abbie Goldberg, a leading developmental scholar on parenting by sexual minority adults, provides an informative,  authoritative, and supportive account of the experiences of gay men becoming fathers. Through in depth interviews, qualitative analyses, and useful case examples, Dr. Goldberg  captures, in a rich and compelling manner,  the way in which these men (re)define gender, parenting, and family life for themselves and others. This timely and important book will have significant impact across diverse areas of scholarship and will provide policymakers with thought provoking ideas about the meaning of parenthood and family."

    —David Brodzinsky, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Developmental and Clinical Psychology, Rutgers University

  • "The descriptive aspects of this book alone are fascinating and serve to illustrate the complex and unique relationships among race, gender, sexuality, adoptive status, and identity. The book’s specific focus on gay male adoption is a welcome addition to the adoption literature...Gay Dads is an insightful, textured, highly readable, and original book. This book will no doubt be influential for both adoption and gay studies."

    Adoption Quarterly

  • "Gay Dads is an original, engaging, and informative qualitative study of gay
    male couple adoptions."


  • "Goldberg provides a careful analysis of the results of a qualitative study of 35 gay male couples who have chosen to become parents through adoption."

    Goldberg Review

  • "In sum, Gay Dads is an important contribution to the literature on same-sex parenting. It is a study that offers a specific window into the transition to parenthood for gay men via adoption and paints a picture of the variety of decisions, challenges, and joys men face as they create families together. More broadly, it is a well-conducted study that challenges readers to expand their understanding of family and the roles that individuals fill within the family system."


  • "This highly readable text marks an important early step in the development of an understanding of psychology of adoptive fatherhood for gay men, and one that is accessible to a variety of interested readers. Beyond that, it serves as a thought-provoking platform for considering the ever-changing picture of family life. Goldberg challenges her readers to question how we choose to support and honor parents, both in our laws and on our sidewalks, and how we may work toward a different choice in the future."

    Journal of GLBT Family Studies

  • "Overall, Goldberg has written an engaging and accessible book that provides a benchmark for future studies of gay male adoption. The book makes a new and important contribution to scholarship on contemporary family diversity and to gay families and relationships in particular."

    —Brian Heaphy, American Journal of Sociology