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Your Parenting Doesn't Hinge on Your Marital Status

Photograph by Getty Images

The headline touted a fairly controversial message—that children with homosexual parents are “happier and healthier” than their peers with a heterosexual mom and dad. It grazed my screen as I browsed The Huffington Post, prompting me to delve into this new research; the largest of its kind.

While I am personally a big supporter of equal rights, I can say that I don’t typically put a lot of thought into most studies. They are all flawed and lacking in their own ways, and this research was no different. I realized as I read through that pitting these two populations against each other wasn’t even a fair comparison to make, because the general population of homosexual parents have to make a concerted effort to become parents. It isn’t a role they are able to take on lightly, or happen into by chance. They have to truly want it—to make that choice to bring children into their lives.

RELATED: Kids of Gay Parents Healthier Than Straight Ones

In contrast, the general population of heterosexual parents is littered with unwanted pregnancies and unforeseen circumstances that may occasionally lead to a lack of commitment. I began to wonder how the results may have varied, if the comparison groups were instead people who had needed to fight with an equal ferocity to become parents—those who had battled infertility, for instance. Or, to a similar extent, single mothers by choice.

I have fallen into both categories, first facing infertility and now braving the world of motherhood on my own. If someone would have told me five years ago that this would become my path, I never would have believed them. I was set on building a traditional family, with love and marriage coming long before the baby in the baby carriage. But life had other plans, and when I was faced with an illness that stripped me of my fertility at a young age, the only thing left was the realization that I was ready to become a mom. Even if my Prince Charming was still far out of sight.

I have to believe that all parents have the potential to become great parents, no matter how they entered into their roles as mothers or fathers to begin with.

Reading the studies on single mothers, the outlook is bleak. But most of those studies are looking at women who have been thrust into a position they never wanted to fill in the first place. Rarely do researchers look at the growing population of women—usually educated and successful—who have decided to give up on waiting for Mr. Right and pursue motherhood on their own terms. The few studies that have separated them out from the crowd are seeing similar results to the research on homosexual parenting. There is something to be said for making that choice, regardless of what your family makeup is otherwise.

I have to believe that all parents have the potential to become great parents, no matter how they entered into their roles as mothers or fathers to begin with. But not all parents would make the same choice if given the opportunity, and I think that is where some of these studies fail. Because they aren’t looking at populations with an equal desire to be parents.

RELATED: Having a Baby Changes Everything, Even Politics

When I adopted my daughter, I became a single mother by choice. I made the decision to take full responsibility for her on my own, understanding that no one else would be there through the sleepless nights and terrible twos. I made a choice, because I knew I was ready. And, so far, it has been the most worthwhile decision of my life. She has been the best thing to ever happen to me.

I can only hope that I am a better parent because of that choice.

Not in spite of it.

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