Family Issues

The Case for Gay Adoption

Why real family values means putting children first

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On Nov. 4, Arkansas voters approved a ban on adoption by unmarried couples. The purpose of the ballot measure, according to the Family Council Action Committee, was "to blunt a homosexual agenda that's at work in other states and that will be at work in Arkansas unless we are proactive about doing something about it."

On Nov. 25, a court in Florida pointed out something that the FCAC and other anti-gay groups somehow manage to overlook: Allowing gay couples to adopt is much less about protecting gays than protecting children.

With that in mind, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman struck down a 1977 Florida law—the only one of its kind—that forbids gays from adopting. (Arkansas, Mississippi and Utah exclude unmarried couples, which has the completely intentional result of excluding gays.) In a case involving two young boys taken in by two gay men, she found the law was unconstitutional largely because it violated the rights of foster children to equal treatment under the law.

You could hardly find better proof than this that efforts to combat the "homosexual agenda" mainly serve to harm children in dire need of stable, loving families. Four years ago, Martin Gill and his longtime partner agreed to provide a foster home for two boys, one 4 years old and the other an infant, who showed the physical and emotional effects of neglect, including scalp ringworm.

Now a legal guardian who regularly observes the boys attests that they are, in the judge's words, "in excellent health, well-behaved, performing well in school and bonded to" their foster family. They have a dog, a cat, and a rabbit. They attend a church.

But they have also spent four years in limbo. The adults whom they have come to regard as parents were only foster caregivers. Because of his sexual orientation, the state would not allow Gill to become their permanent, adoptive father.

No one else has asked to adopt the boys. Yet the Center for Family and Child Enrichment, which handles these matters, concluded that if the brothers could not be adopted by Gill, it would have to look for other adoptive parents.

Consider the implications of the policy in this case. It would mean removing the children from the home in which they have been raised—"one of the most caring and nurturing placements" the guardian has ever seen. It would mean putting them through the trauma, once again, of being uprooted and placed with complete strangers. And because of the difficulty of placing kids their age, the CFCE said, it could mean the brothers would be permanently separated from each other.

And for what? Solely to shield them from the supposed perils of gay parents. Gays are treated as more dangerous than felons, drug offenders, and known child abusers—none of whom is categorically barred from adopting.

As it happens, those dangers are mostly imaginary. According to evidence cited by the judge, gays are slightly more likely than heterosexuals to suffer psychiatric problems, engage in substance abuse, and smoke, but so are lots of other groups that are allowed to adopt. The American Psychological Association says it finds no difference between the parenting of homosexuals and heterosexuals.

Would orphaned and abandoned children be better off if every one of them could be raised by stable, loving, heterosexual couples? Possibly. But that's not an option. For many children, the alternative to having gay adoptive parents is having no parents at all.

There are hundreds of kids in Florida who need adoptive families—nearly 1,000 at any given moment. The average child spends 2.5 years in foster care before being adopted, and some wait forever. Noted Judge Lederman, "165 children in Florida aged out of the system in 2006 without ever being adopted."

The Florida ban is simple and stark. It says, in effect, that a child may not be adopted by gays even when the adoption is in the best interest of the child. That's the main reason the court overturned it: It violates the rights of children and "causes harm to the children it is meant to protect."

Those who want to keep gays from adopting think that's a small price to pay for blocking the "homosexual agenda." But then, they're not the ones who will be paying it.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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  1. Wow.
    The radical gay agenda latches on to “..for the children”? What’s the projected demographic that’s expected to be duped/shamed?
    Seriously, stop talking.
    “It’s because we’re homosexual,…isn’t it?”
    No, it’s because you’re acting “gay”, and
    expecting a casual free pass.

  2. a casual free pass

    Please explain.

  3. Laws against gay adoption say, in effect, that a child may not be adopted by gays even when the adoption is in the best interest of the child.

    Actually, these laws are based on the belief that adoption by gays can never be in the best interest of the child. I disagree, but I’m also making a special effort not to mischaracterize beliefs I disagree with.

  4. I liked this article. I’d like to think that in a radically libertarian society, marriage would not be a government issue at all, but rather one solely between you, your partner(s) and your faith or lack there of. As far as adoption for homosexual couples, they should be held to the same standards as anyone else.

  5. I still see no problem with a state banning adoption by unmarried couples. It’s a different issue than gay marriage, and I’m really not sure how the Arkansas issues morphs into “banning gay adoptions” except that cosmos can points and say “look, they did it because they hate teh geys!”

  6. you’re acting “gay”

    Oh, “heaven” forbid.

  7. Well, they DID do it “because they hate teh gays.”

  8. Those poor poor children adopted by loving single individuals or gay couples. I’m sure they way preferred being stuck in foster care.

  9. Oh, “heaven” forbid.

    You forgot “*snaps fingers*”. GHEY!

    The radical gay agenda latches on to “..for the children”? What’s the projected demographic that’s expected to be duped/shamed?

    Maybe you should take a look at the foster system, asshole. Maybe ask a kid if they’d rather be adopted by someone caring–but oh noes gay–or stay in the system.

    Try it.

  10. you’re acting “gay”

    And by “gay”, you mean fabulous S:^)

  11. Ah, great post, Chapman. Thanks for the read.

  12. I’m willing to listen to an argument that the state shouldn’t regulate adoption, btw. In the meantime, there are always going to be regulations in some states that don’t mesh with libertarian belief.

  13. Most Americans are not pragmatic enough to deal rationally with a challenge where there is no good solution, just a least-bad one. This leads to the kind of problem-solving on display with the agglomerated abortion to be forever known as The Bailout.

    I think it is pretty inarguable that the absolute best environment for a child to grow up in is with a loving pair of married parents, but that is often unrealistic even in households where the parents are married. To the extent that the state has a role in this at all, it should be about placing them in the best possible environment, even when that means the least-bad home. States have limited resources for foster homes, and the kind of people who chose to be foster parents are already problematic even if there are enough of them. If the state has given itself the Constitutional mandate to act in the best interest of the child, and if the best possible environment for the child is in the home of a couple of a gay couple, then that is where the state has the obligation to place the child.

    p.s. Love the http://www.MeetGayCouples.com banner.

  14. I still see no problem with a state banning adoption by unmarried couples. It’s a different issue than gay marriage,

    Well, not in Utah, where the ban is saying, in effect, “The religion most people here believe in explicitly says that every child deserves to be raised by a heterosexual married couple, and we’re gonna give that the force of law. And we REALLY don’t want Teh Gaiz to be raising any kids and giving them subversive values.”

    Now, I don’t mind a law saying that stable, loving heterosexual couples get top priority. But to say that that is the only allowable arrangement means some kids are gonna not get placed, despite the presence of stable, loving households that could provide a good home for them.

  15. Maybe you should take a look at the foster system, asshole. Maybe ask a kid if they’d rather be adopted by someone caring–but oh noes gay–or stay in the system.
    Try it.

    *sigh* OK, now I feel so ashamed. I’ll go along if it’s all just, you know,..for the children. That response based on “asshole”, and the allusion to privileged intimate knowledge of “the system” convinced me.

  16. Don’t ask me how, but I got ahold of a copy of “The Gay Agenda”, dated 14 July, 2008.

    President calls meeting to order.
    Opening prayer.
    Secretary reads minutes from last meeting.
    Treasurer gives financial report.
    Bake sale at Stonewall Inn discussed. Mike noted an urgent need for counter people on Saturday evening.
    Presentation by Reginald Kenneth Dwight – Interior decorating on a budget.
    Round table discussion – Why divorce lawyers support gay marriage, why leather bar owners don’t.
    Closing prayer.
    Adjournment.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  17. That response based on “asshole”

    Which was based on your allusion to privileged intimate knowledge of the reasons that adoption is denied for “acting gay”.

    the allusion to privileged intimate knowledge of “the system”

    I actually have friends and relatives who have adopted foster kids. How about you?

  18. there’s a gay agenda? crab people?

  19. I got ahold of a copy of “The Gay Agenda”

    You left out “Take children into your home and raise them at great expense for the sole purpose of giving them teh gay.”

  20. You left out “Take children into your home and raise them at great expense for the sole purpose of giving them teh gay.”

    Oh yeah. My bad. I also omitted the “Gay marriage: Our diabolical plan to destroy heterosexual monogamous relationships” item.

  21. And we REALLY don’t want Teh Gaiz to be raising any kids and giving them subversive values.

    Sort of like Californicate where WE REALLY don’t want any White Folks to be raising any black kids and giving them white bread suburban bourgeoise values. Foster care is ever so much better.

  22. “Now, I don’t mind a law saying that stable, loving heterosexual couples get top priority.”

    Then you are a hater – probably religious. The forces of Love and Tolerance will know how to deal with you.

    Clear the streets for the pink battalions! Clear the streets for the forces of tolerance! The rainbow flag high! The ranks tightly closed! Tolerance marches with a calm, firm pace!

    (Sorry about that, Mr. Godwin.)

  23. rhywun,

    Dude, it’s Marketing 101. New customer acquisition is always more expensive than customer retention.

  24. Oh, by the way.

    I got married in October. Sadly, my marriage is already in constant threat because I live in Massachusetts.

  25. Mad Max,

    Yes, because every prospective gay parent is a militant homosexual from The Castro. Or something.

  26. The reality is that the ban in Arkansas was promoted to the public there as a ban on gay adoption by the sponsors. The clause about unmarried singles being included was done merely to make it “non-discriminatory” even though gay couples may NEVER marry there.

    I’ve read much of the Religious Right’s material over the years and many of them do admit that there are cases where a child being adopt by a gay couple would be beneficial to that child but they say that the overall effect is that gays are so horrible and evil that one should never risk the larger problems of allowing children contact with such “deviants”.

    Remember they worked very hard to ban gays as teachers. They believe that no one ever has an innate incliantion toward being gay (something experts tend to believe). Therefore the only reason people “sin against God” by being gay is because they were told it was good to do so or, worse yet, are “recruited” by homosexuals. Therefore one must keep gay people in social isolation to prevent them from “corrupting” children. The sort of thing one must do to preserve a fundamentalist view of the Bible is monstrous.

    Meanwhile we should note that people who strongly believe in physical punishment for such sins as dancing, Hollywood movies, girls wearing slacks, “mixed bathing” (i.e. swimming), mandatory prayer sessions, refusal of medical services to show faith in Jesus, etc., are not only raising children (and sometimes killing them) but breeding like rabbits. Sure there are worse things than being raised by a gay couple — like being raised by lunatic fundamentalists. But hey, if you don’t like somethign just ban it. That’s God’s way. (Catholics and Jews beware, God isn’t so sure about you either.)

  27. “(Catholics and Jews beware, God isn’t so sure about you either.)”

    You can add Mormons, too – all three groups are accustomed to not having the full confidence of Protestant fundies, thank you all the same for your concern.

    Yet the traditionalist element among Catholics, Jews and Mormons seems less than enthusiastic about the policy of gay liberation. The insidious effect of Protestant fundamentalist progaganda is showing its evil effects!

    prolefeed,

    The thing about you is that you’re still thinking in terms of the welfare of the children, not the preferences of the parents. You agree to gay adoptions as a less-bad solution than the horrid foster care system. This makes you an ally of the gay lib forces to a limited extent.

    But you throw away your gay-liberation cred in saying, “I don’t mind a law saying that stable, loving heterosexual couples get top priority” in adoptions. The very thing which leads you to support gay adoptions in some cases – the interests of the children – leads to to support straight adoptions in other cases.

    To the gay-libbers and their allies at *Reason,* only full equality will suffice – meaning that gay couples should have access to the same rights as straight couples, including the right to have marriage licenses and the right to adopt. In case of a competition between a stable, straight married couple and a gay couple, any judge who ruled for the straight couple in the name of the child’s interests might have to listen for the tramp of rent-a-mob outside the courthouse, denouncing the judge’s “homophobia” and heteronormativity.

  28. “To the gay-libbers and their allies at *Reason,* only full equality will suffice – meaning that gay couples should have access to the same rights as straight couples, including the right to have marriage licenses and the right to adopt.”

    sounds reasonable to me.

    ho ho ho get it? huh?

  29. In case of a competition between a stable, straight married couple and a gay couple

    Are you claiming that there are more couples willing to adopt than children who need parents? I’d need to see some numbers on that.

    But yeah, “equality” sucks.

  30. A lot of people in Florida think that gays should be prohibited from adopting because they are more likely to be pedophiles. I tried to explain that, by definition, pedophilia is neither straight nor gay. The cuellos rojos down here go out of their way to reject the definitions of these words to insist on their own. One “thoughtful” Floridian said he would have no problem with it, provided that gay men only adopted little girls.

  31. This issue for me has nothing to do with gay rights, but only with children not being denied placement in a loving home solely because of anti-gay bigotry. I would agree that a heterosexual couple should be granted preference if there were some magical excess of adopters vs. adoptees. Although I would also place preference with a gay couple over a single person as well. I say that because, again, this is not about any right to adopt. A heterosexual couple is only preferable because I believe a child would benefit from growing up with both a mother and father in their lives. There is certainly nothing wrong with 2 women or 2 men raising a child. It’s just as someone raised by a single mom, I feel I’ve lost out by having a father who lived elsewhere. But since there will most likely always be more children waiting to be adopted than families willing to adopt, any argument against same-sex and single person adoptions is pointless and only hurts the child who ends up growing up without anyone stable home environment.

  32. “gays are slightly more likely than heterosexuals to suffer psychiatric problems, engage in substance abuse, and smoke”

    Which might have something to do with the fact that we’re the most ostracized minority in the country.

  33. I’m tired of all of these assumptions about what is best for children. If straight, married couples are better for children than any other arrangement, I want to see stats. Not assumptions.

    What seems self-evident to me is that any couple actively wanting to adopt an orphan child will be better for that child than that child’s own parents would have been, regardless of the gender mixture.

    There’s an analogue to marriage. Somehow we are OK with straight people getting married by Elvis impersonators and getting divorced 2 months later and raising their children in whatever manner they choose up to a certain level of physical abuse. But noo gay couples who deliberately invest in marriage as a cherished right, or who adopt a child with the specific intention of raising her well, that’s a situation that is less preferable than the norm. Give me a break.

  34. Mad Max — Was that was tongue-in-cheek humor @ 1:33 pm?

    I don’t think of gay adoptions as “less bad”, BTW. Rather, my experience in raising my own children is that men and women have different, complementary strengths, and ideally a child should have that combination. And two parents are better than one, so there’s a backup if one is overwhelmed or can’t get away from work, etc.

    But, you don’t always get that ideal when it comes to adoptions, so sometimes you gotta go with the best available alternative. If I had to rank potential adoptive parent combos, I’d use this order of preference (given loving, stable households as a prerequisite):

    1) Blood relatives

    2) Married hetero couple

    3) Unmarried hetero couple

    4) Lesbian couple

    5) Gay male couple

    5) Single parent

  35. Are you claiming that there are more couples willing to adopt than children who need parents?

    For healthy white infants, you bet your ass.

    For older kids/minority kids/kids with health issues/kids from a mother who has drug problems, not so much.

  36. “Actually, these laws are based on the belief that adoption by gays can never be in the best interest of the child. I disagree, but I’m also making a special effort not to mischaracterize beliefs I disagree with.”

    That’s a hell of a nit pick. The quote really means, “Laws against gay adoption say, in effect, that a child may not be adopted by gays even when the court determines based on the evidence that the adoption is in the best interest of the child.” That’s how I read the quote, but I’m a lawyer, so maybe I’m programmed to read the legal meaning of “best interest of the child.”

    As for couples willing to adopt outnumbering healthy, white, superbabies, you may be right. And part of that is because so many straight, married couples are not allowed to adopt. I know quite a few who finally said, “screw this” and went to Russia to adopt.

  37. Personally I think gay couples should be able to adopt.

    That said the cover of that book looks satanic.

    A child dancing in a field of snakes with a dog.

    WTF?!?!

  38. My take here. Amusingly, Chapman’s column runs over at Town Hall, too, where it unsurprisingly gets a somewhat different reaction.

  39. I wonder how many more American babies would be adopted if a ban was enacted on importing cute Chinese girls.

  40. While I believe heterosexual couples are better suited to be parents, I would not mind gay adoption as an alternative to abortion (to which I am personally opposed).

    I don’t know why gay couples don’t try to use that angle with religious conservatives. I realize that many gays are pro-abortion on demand all the way, but seriously why do they care about the issue?

  41. While I believe heterosexual couples are better suited to be parents, I would not mind gay adoption as an alternative to abortion (to which I am personally opposed).

    I don’t know why gay couples don’t try to use that angle with religious conservatives. I realize that many gays are pro-abortion on demand all the way, but seriously why do they care about the issue?

    I’m not making sure this makes any sense, but I’ll reply anyways.

    It’s clear that the religious conservatives who support such bans would rather a child grow up in foster care as wards of the state than be raised by a gay couple. Your abortion comment is a complete non-sequitir though.

  42. prolefeed,

    I could certainly live with your list (I might change #1, “blood relatives” to “mother and father (if married to each other),” but it’s a sensible list, and it indicates that hetero marriage is normative. If there aren’t any stable, hetero married couples offering to take the child, then the priority is to rescue the child from foster care, and if that means having the child adopted by a nonmarital couple – or, if need be, a gay couple – then so be it. The child probably won’t be any worse off than in foster care.

    The problem with your list, from the standpoint of the gay-libbers, is that it still endorses “discrimination” and “heteronormativity.”

    Never mind the alleged statistical unlikelihood of a married hetero couple being available to adopt a child – it’s the *symbolism* of that list which would provoke howls of indignation from the pitchfork-wielding mobs of the Loving, Caring and Tolerant. The placing of heteros above homos is teh discrimination, you see, which means that you’re basically the same as the guys who killed Matthew Shephard.

  43. “I realize that many gays are pro-abortion on demand all the way, but seriously why do they care about the issue?”

    I’m not sure. If there’s actually a “gay gene,” then it can be tested for, and mothers will have the option of aborting their gay children.

    I’ve posed this question to those who support both “abortion rights” and “gay rights” – would you support a woman’s right to abort a fetus whom she believed (rightly or wrongly) to be gay? The answers ranged from “no comment” to “it’s a woman’s right” to “at least it will spare the child a lifetime of suffering at the hands of homophobic parents.”

    For an alternate perspective, see the Web site of the Prolife Alliance of Gays and Lesbians,

    http://www.plagal.org/

  44. I can see how people can get upset seeing such a list of preferred adoptive couples as listed above. But it’s not about the couples’ rights. If you think a gay couple should be allowed to adopt because it’s that couple’s right, you have it backwards. It would however be in that child’s interest to have someone who loves them to raise them. I do think it would be in that child’s best interest to have a mother and a father. I don’t give a damn about their sex lives. I just don’t think having two mothers would be a substitute for having a father figure.

  45. Let me make it clear again that I don’t mean gay couples should not be able to adopt. But I think the argument should be based on a child’s rights and not the parents.

  46. Rob Midro,

    Congratulations. Although you’ve left yourself open for the “won’t someone think about the children!” argument, you’ve made a great argument. The cosmotarians will, of course, disagree.

  47. I would probably fall under the definition of cosmotarian. I do get pissed off at anti-gay adoption laws. I am just arguing over how one justifies their principles. I’m just thinking out how one justifies a right to adopt. Nobody who cannot have children themselves (whether straight infertile couple, gay couple or celibate single person) can claim a right to a child. Someone has to first offer one to them. I don’t think one’s sexual orientation has anything to do with parenting ability. I don’t think the case for gay rights should be made while ignoring that children who grow up without a mother or father may have problems dealing with that. I don’t think it matters enough to deny adoptions by gay couples. I just think it’s disingenuous to ignore an argument just because some may use it to justify these bullshit laws.

  48. My list:

    * Young rich couple with advanced degrees.
    * Rich couple with college degrees.
    * Couple with high school education and steady jobs.

    Bet there are plenty of gays at the front of this list, but that isn’t the point.

  49. Bob Midro, what’s your take on single-parenting? And what about a woman who’s lost her husband through death or divorce or abandonment, and who who wants to rear her child(ren) with the aid of her sister/housemate?

  50. alans ranking is probably closest to the mark, if you want a healthy child-rearing environment. but im not sure youth is a positive quality for parents. i have seen some studies that support the advanced degrees and income argument, but i havent seen any showing young parents superior. i have seen studies that show different parenting styles by age, but it didnt show superior outcomes.

    another thing to put on that list though, would be if the parents came from a stable home environment. that is also a strongly predictive correlator.

  51. Blake, You’re probably right. I just tossed the list off to show that the gay / straight distinction isn’t fundamental and need not be a distraction.

  52. 4) Lesbian couple

    5) Gay male couple

    I am not sure on what basis you order these two groups. Fathers are more predictive of a child’s outcome than mothers. Additionally, openly gay men tend not to be anti-female whereas a sizable percent of lesbians are anti-male, not good for raising boys or girls. Gay male couples should be placed above lesbian female couples.

  53. Gay male couples should be placed above lesbian female couples.

  54. Hey, c’mon, it’s 1:00 am in the early morning and I have worked a really long 17 hour day, a few superfluous extra words are redundant.

  55. It’s the visual, Scott.

  56. anarch,

    I am not saying kids cannot be raised by single parents. I’m just saying it would be a lie to say there is no difference. I was raised by a single mother. I do feel cheated that my dad left her for another woman, leaving her to raise me and my sister by herself. As a kid, it was confusing seeing everyone else in the neighborhood with both parents living in the same home, while I came home to one parent. I did get visitation with my dad, while all the other kids got to live in one house. But that’s a different story than what we’re on. There are different living arrangements for families. I wouldn’t stop anyone from raising their kids the way they want. I just know that I wish I had both parents at home like the other kids did. They all seem to have been much more well-adjusted than I was.

  57. Rob Midro, OK.

    I would expand that only by adding that, all other things being equal, the more friendly, caring adults (and other children) around, the better for each growing child.

    One drawback of the nuclear family is its potential insularity. Latchkey kids growing up, say, in apartments can be overexposed to the neuroses and stresses and limitations and, alas, shortcomings of even the most well meaning set of parents. Exposure to a variety of role models and intellectual and emotional styles affords children a range of ideals to emulate and induces tolerance of human differences.

    Again, all things being equal, and without overwhelming the kids.

  58. While having a second mother certainly would have been better than just one parent (I was a “latchkey kid”), that would not have made up for the father issues I and my sister both had. I don’t think it is any coincidence that the closest to a non-traditional family on the block I grew up on was one with a stepfather, whose kids also happened to be the only other ones with behavior problems while growing up

  59. As I said, OK, meaning Yes.

  60. Yeah, I just had a couple more thoughts. Let add to that list:

    6) Ward of the state

    Let gay couples adopt.

  61. Just how the hell do single parents end up being the worst case scenario? I was raised by my mother, and I really didn’t give a shit about it one way or another.

    Adoption priority should be like this:

    1) Blood relatives if they choose to step up to the responsibility and aren’t too fucked up.

    2) Anyone else who wants to (including married couples from whatever economic status and background, unmarried couples, teh gay couples, single people) as long as they can handle the responsibility as decided on an individual basis.

    And if the kid really doesn’t like whoever is trying to adopt them, that should be taken in to consideration as well.

  62. Laws against gay adoption say, in effect, that a child may not be adopted by gays even when the adoption is in the best interest of the child.

    Back when I hosted a talk show, I had callers who said just that – that they would rather see a child go parentless than be raised by HO-mosexuals. So, tell me the part again how this is not all motivated by blind hatred…

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