Changing family

The Schulte-Wayser family is like the Jetsons: a blend of mid-century traditional and postmodern cool.

One parent is the breadwinner, a corporate lawyer who is Type A when it comes to schoolwork, bedtime and the importance of rules. The other parent is the self-described "baby whisperer", staying home to care for the couple's two daughters and four sons, who dash through their days as if wearing jetpacks.

Both parents know when rules and roles are made for subverting.

"Each of us is very maternal in our own way," said Joshua Wayser, 50, the lawyer. "I take my girls shopping, and I'm in charge of beauty and hair care."

Wayser glanced at Richard Schulte, 61, his homemaker-artist husband, who was sitting nearby. "Of course," Wayser added dryly, "he doesn't think I do a good job."

Wayser, Schulte and their six adopted children are part of one of the more emphatic reinventions of the standard family flow chart. A growing number of gay men and lesbians are pursuing parenthood any way they can: adoption, surrogacy, donor sperm.

"There's a gayby boom, that's for sure," Wayser said. "So many of our friends are having kids."

Some critics have expressed concern that the children of gay parents may suffer from social stigma and the lack of conventional adult role models, or that same-sex couples are not suited to the monotonous rigours of family life.

Earlier studies, often invoked in the culture wars over same-sex marriage, suggested that children who lived with gay parents were prone to lower grades, conduct disorders and a heightened risk of drug and alcohol problems. But new research suggests that such fears are misplaced.

Through a preliminary analysis of census data and other sources, Michael J Rosenfeld of Stanford University has found that whatever problems their children may display are more likely to stem from other factors.

... contd.

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