Rachel H. Farr

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  • Associate Professor, Developmental Psychology
  • Gender and Women's Studies
  • Psychology
  • Developmental, Social, and Health Psychology
Kastle 012-B, Bowman 103 (Lab)
(859) 257-4393
  • Other Affiliations:
Research Interests:

**Please note: I will be considering accepting new PhD student advisees to begin Fall 2023 (applying in Fall 2022).**

Undergraduates interested in working in the FAD Lab can fill out an application (for PSY 394 credit) at any time -- see link to the left. Interviews are invited mid-semester in the Spring for the following academic year. Undergraduates interested in pursuing an honors thesis (PSY 495 / 496) with the FAD Lab in their senior year should discuss the possibility with me no later than 2nd semester of their junior year.

Are you looking for me to write you a letter of recommendation or provide a reference for you? Please complete the form found on the menu to the left!


In directing the FAD Lab (Families, Adoption, and Diversity) here at UK as part of the Developmental Psychology area, I conduct mixed method (i.e., qualitative and quantitative) research related to diverse family systems and issues of adoption through the lenses of Developmental and Community Psychology, with particular interest in child development, parenting, family functioning, and intersectionality of identities. I primarily study adoptive families and families headed by LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) parents. I'm also interested in how issues of race (e.g., transracial adoption), gender, and birth family contact are relevant in adoptive families. Given the intersections of this area of research with public policy, practice, and law, it is exciting that some of our findings have been influential in media circles, public debates, and legal and policy domains. See some of the publications, media mentions, and amicus briefs citations via the tabs on the left for more information!

We have several key research projects currently ongoing, as well as others not listed here! See some of our publications from these and other projects on tab on left. To read more about the studies we're conducting in the FAD Lab research, visit our CURRENT PROJECT wesbite.

1. The Contemporary Adoptive Families Study (CAFS): For over 15 years, I have been conducting a longitudinal study of adoptive families headed by lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parents. We have data collected from two time points: when children were preschoolers, as well as when they were in middle childhood (elementary school-age). We are now following up with families to collect data for a third wave as children are now in adolescence!

2. Stories & Experiences of LGBTQ+ Families from Youth (SELFY): Early in 2020, we finished collecting interview data from racially and socioeconomically diverse adolescents (especially those who live in the South, Midwest, and Mountain West) with LGBTQ+ parents about their intersectional experiences of identity (e.g., race, class, adoption, parents’ sexual orientation) and discrimination. Through thematic and content analyses, we are exploring feelings about relationships with family and friends, as well as positive identity development, coping behaviors, and perceptions of community and support resources. We have now expanded this project to include perspectives of both the adolescents with LGBTQ+ parents and the LGBTQ+ parents themselves (i.e., the Q-PAL project, or Queer Parent and Adolescent Lives) using a quantitative approach.

3. The Birth Family Project: We are interested in the experiences and well-being of birth family members connected to adoptive families (who may or may not have current contact with other another). As research has often focused on the perspectives of individuals who are adopted and their adoptive parents, it is so important to hear the stories of birth parents and birth relatives! We finished data collection (interviews and surveys) and are now working on analyses and manuscript writing based on this project.

4. Children's Attitudes about Diversity (CAD) Project: In collaboration with Dr. Christia Brown (Psychology, UK) and Dr. Jazmin Brown-Iannuzzi (Psychology, UVA), we are exploring elementary school-age children’s attitudes about diverse families, such as those formed through adoption, with same-gender parents, and who are multiracial. We have two rounds of data collection for which we are conducting analyses and writing up reports for publication.

  • BS, Cornell University (Animal Science, Education)
  • MAT, Cornell University (Education)
  • PhD, University of Virginia (Psychology)
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Massachusetts Amherst (Rudd Adoption Research Program)
Selected Publications: 

See tab on left for Publications.