CHICAGO – The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an organization of 55,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists, said in a news realease Jan. 30 that children who are born to, or adopted by, one member of a gay or lesbian couple deserve the security of two legally recognized parents.

The statement, “Coparent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents,” supports legal and legislative efforts that would allow adoption by the second parent or coparent in same-sex relationships.

The statement pointed to the considerable body of professional literature suggesting that children with homosexual parents have the same advantages and the same expectations for health, adjustment and development as children whose parents are heterosexual.

Coparent or second-parent adoption protects a child’s right to maintain continuing relationships with both parents in a same-sex relationship. Several states have considered or enacted legislation sanctioning coparent or second parent adoption by partners of the same sex. But other states have not yet considered legislative action, while at least one state bans adoptions altogether by the second parent or coparent in a same sex relationship.

Citing estimates suggesting that as many as nine million U.S. children have at least one gay parent, the AAP urged its members to take an active role in supporting measures that allow homosexual adoption, saying it is crucial for pediatricians to get involved because gay households are becoming more prevalent and doctors are increasingly confronted with related issues.

Gay partners often are the primary caretakers, but without parental rights they have no legal say in matters as simple as granting doctors’ permission to give a child a shot, said Dr. Barbara J. Howard, an assistant pediatrics professor at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center who helped draft the policy.

Also, children in gay households may lack health insurance if the family’s only breadwinner is a gay parent without parental rights, Hagan said.

In addition, gay partners lacking parental rights may lose visitation or custody battles when a couple separates or one partner dies, depriving children they’ve helped raise of future contact, Howard said.

“It’s not a political issue,” Howard said. “This is an issue regarding the well-being of the child.”