Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social Work, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth P. Cramer


This qualitative study expands the existing literature on fatherhood, single parents, and gay and lesbian adoption to include the unique experiences of single, gay men who became adoptive parents after "coming out", or establishing a gay identity. To illustrate these unique and common experiences, individual ethnographic interviews were conducted with 16 fathers residing throughout the United States, as well as internationally. Specifically, this study explored the participants' experiences through their reflections of the adoption process, and through their experiences after the family was established. The participants had experiences to those found in previous studies on gay and lesbian adoption and gay fathers, as well as possessed unique strengths, including tenacity and resiliency. Of particular importance are the strategies that each participant employed to deal with heterosexist and sexist stigmas, and continue to employ to maintain and protect their families. The participants were highly invested in their parental roles, and indisputably dedicated to the care of their children. Shifts in the participants' support networks to include greater involvement with heterosexual parents were also common. Finally, these fathers tended not to utilize existing support services, such as support groups for a variety of reasons. The results of this study are a useful addition to the social work knowledge base. On a micro level, the results may be useful for direct practitioners who are often responsible for making decisions regarding the fitness of gay men as fathers. The results may also be of interest to practitioners who work with the children of gay fathers, and are interested in gaining insight into the unique experiences of children raised in this particular family configuration. The results of the inquiry may also be useful to adoption professionals, who are responsible for conducting home studies, as well as for making placement decisions. On a macro level, the results may be useful to administrators who are working to develop programs whose goal is to support the continued development of gay fathers, or by policy makers who are interested in this specific group of gay fathers and their children.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Social Work Commons