A major research project in the United States has revealed that more than 35% of lesbians aged between 18 and 44 have given birth, and 16% of gay men have a child.

The Williams Institute and the Urban Institute today released a major study on adoption and foster care by lesbian and gay parents.

The study uses census data and other government surveys to explore the characteristics of out lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals who are adoptive or foster parents.

The Williams/Urban study estimates that 65,500 adopted children and currently living with a lesbian or gay parent, amounting to 4% of all adopted children in the United States.

They found that 52% of gay men and 41% of lesbians want to have a child. 23% of lesbian or bisexual women are living with and caring for someone else’s birth child.

Additionally, the study found that and that 10,300 foster children are living with lesbian or gay parents.

Nearly 52,000 lesbian and gay households include an adopted child under the age of 18.

“While this data is limited by only having information about openly gay, lesbian and bisexual parents, it still demonstrates that a significant number of LGB individuals and couple are raising children,” said Gary J. Gates, Senior Research Fellow at the Williams Institute.

“As LGB families become more visible in our society, this number will only grow, and it is crucial that we have more data related to this demographic,” Gates continued.

“Research measuring child well-being among children raised by LGB parents shows no negative consequences,” said Gates.

“In fact, studies show that these parents tend to have a higher percentage of qualities that are highly desirable.

“On average, LGB adoptive parents and same-sex couples raising foster children are older and more educated than other foster parents.

“In addition, many LGB adoptive parents have access to more economic resources than other adoptive parents.”

The study follows the passage of the Sexual Orientation Regulations in the UK, which become law on April 30th.

The regulations make it illegal for adoption agencies to discriminate against lesbian, gay and bisexual people and LGB couples.

The Roman Catholic church has been given until the end of 2008 to comply with the law, and have threatened to close their adoption agencies.

In the US, various state policies regarding LGB adoption and fostering vary.

Some have outright bans: Florida forbids “homosexuals” from adopting; Mississippi bans “same-gender” couples, and Utah bans all unmarried couples.

Other states, including California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington DC, have policies which prohibit sexual orientation from being used as a basis to prevent a prospective applicant from being a adoptive or foster parent.

LGB people in the remaining states may face discrimination when applying to be adoptive or foster parents.

Currently, several states are considering laws and policies that would prevent LGB people from adopting and fostering.

To read the full report click here