identify as lesbian, and to be different from those faced by heterosexual women or men. For example, many lesbians will most likely continue to struggle with issues related to balancing family and career in ways different from married heterosexual women. Little is known about specific physical and mental health concerns of lesbians as they age, particularly about lesbians of color, working-class and poor lesbians, and lesbians who are not connected to an organized lesbian community. Problems typically associated with old age may be exacerbated by poor access to health care, a problem that follows lesbians across the life span. An additional area that has received limited attention, which is discussed in greater detail below, is lesbian motherhood. Most research has focused on the effects on children of being part of a lesbian household, rather than on lesbians' decisions to become parents or the process of becoming parents.
Lesbian Motherhood. Deciding whether or not to have children is an important and sometimes difficult issue for all women whether lesbian or heterosexual. In addition to all the usual parenting issues, lesbian parents must cope with the very real fear that they will lose their children in custody battles and other legal situations (CDC, 1997). Nonetheless, lesbians are increasingly choosing to become parents, often through donor insemination, but also through adoption and foster care (Brewaeys et al., 1995; CDC, 1997).
Research has not substantiated fears that children raised in lesbian households might grow up to be homosexual, might develop improper sex role behavior or sexual conflicts, or will have conflicts with peer groups that threaten their psychological health, self-esteem, and social relationships (Brewaeys and van Ball, 1997; Gold et al., 1994; Golombok and Tasker, 1994). There is no evidence that the development of children who have lesbian or gay parents is compromised in any significant respect relative to that of children of heterosexual parents in otherwise comparable circumstances (Golombok and Tasker, 1994; Patterson, 1992). For example, a longitudinal study of a small sample (n = 25) of young adults raised in lesbian families and those raised by heterosexual single mothers (n = 21) showed psychological well-being and evidence of comparable family identity and relationships (Tasker and Golombok, 1995). Furthermore, no differences were reported in the quality of couples' relationships