After the world wide debates on legalization of homosexual marriages, it’s the turn of homosexual adoption to be under the national spotlight and be debated extensively. Can homosexuals be as good parents as the heterosexual ones is the question? The issue was brought to debate when Rosie O’Donnell, the famous talk show host and actress, revealed publicly about her homosexuality. She had already adopted several children and challenged the Florida law banning homosexuals from adopting. Opposition. It is interesting to note that Florida is the only state banning gay adoption.
Arguments against homosexual adoption: There are many arguments put forth by people who oppose adoption by homosexual couples. They argue that a child raised in a homosexual home will be deprived of either a mother or a father and this would not be fair to the child. Research shows that children need both a father and a mother for their well-being. In fact, social researcher David Blankenhorn, author of Fatherless America has declared that “fatherlessness is the “engine driving” social pathologies such as crime, adolescent pregnancy, child sexual abuse, and violence against women” (PWTL, 2007).
These protestors also point out that legalization of adoption by homosexuals will cause a loss of meaning to the institutions of marriage and family. Moreover, the “Annual Report on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Domestic Violence” shows that there is increased domestic violence in the homosexual community compared to heterosexual marriages (PWTL, 2007). Homosexual adoption is considered by many people to be a moral issue. Such people tend to argue that homosexuality by itself is a sin.
God had designed a traditional family to consist of man, wife and child. Going against God’s plans is a sin. This argument is based on spiritual belief rather than on scientific proof. Scientifically, some people argue that having homosexual parents can create gender confusion in the minds of the child and also allow the child to believe that homosexuality is something natural and moral. This kind of acceptance in the minds of the child can confuse him regarding his own sexuality and maybe pave the way for becoming homosexual later on in life. Lynn D.
Wardle, a law professor cites the example of a case where the daughter of a homosexual mother had experimented with homosexual practices and also indulged in heterosexual promiscuity, anxiously driven by her awareness of her mother’s homosexual relations (Wardle, 2002). In another legal case – J. L. P. (H. ) v. D. J. P. – the court upheld a limitation on the visitation rights of a divorced father who, the court found, was in the habit of taking his 11-year-old son to homosexual social gatherings and a “gay church,” and who testified that he thought it would be “desirable” for the boy to be homosexual (Posner, 2002).
Apart from these threats to the child, protestors also argue that there is a possibility that a child who is raised by a couple who are not legally married, tends to lose faith in the institution of marriage and it might be exposed to acquiring sexually transmitted diseases when it lives in an atmosphere of sexual promiscuity (Wardle, 2002). Though this argument may be somewhat valid, most of the other arguments opposing homosexual adoption rights are based on ignorance and prejudice. Homosexual adoption – Personal Viewpoint:
Adoption is something a person does out of his desire to love and care for a child during his life time. As such, the capacity of a person to love and care are the only needed criteria in adoption. Many adoption agencies try to prevent homosexuals from adopting children. This is a very uncertain measure to keep away the homosexuals from adopting because banning adoption by homosexuals does not guarantee that no child will have a homosexual parent. Many homosexuals, especially female homosexuals, are normally married and have had children.
It is also possible for a male homosexual who is not married to beget a child through a woman and have it entrusted to him. Science can work wonders and a lesbian can have a child through artificial insemination or by intercourse with a man willing to give up his paternal rights. Moreover, a lesbian may also get custody of her children through a legal marriage and choose to thereafter bring up the children in a lesbian household. Thus, though there are a lot of protests against homosexual adoption, it is undeniable that children have been raised by homosexual parents in the past. Arguments in favor of homosexual adoption:
According to studies comparing children in lesbian households with the children in households lead by unmarried heterosexual woman it has been found that there are no differences in either the sexual orientation of the children in the two groups or their mental health or social adjustment (Neff, 2004). Many people have discounted these studies saying that they are not really valid as they have limitations. But the ignored fact is that nearly 50 studies show there are no significant developmental differences between the children of gay parents and the children of straight parents (Neff, 2004).
In recent years the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Bar Association have issued statements supporting parenting by gays (Neff, 2004). These statements and findings do negate the popular conviction that a homosexual parent is bound to be a negative influence in a child’s mental and emotional health. Testimonies to successful homosexual adoption: Moreover there are testimonies to prove that children do feel quite normal with same sex parents. Hope Steinman-Iacullo, 17, was adopted as an infant by two gay men in New York City.
She is open about the fact she has two dads who married in Toronto last year. Janet Gordon, 14, lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with her brother, Elliot, 13, and her moms, Peg, 40, and Pat, 50. “I have two moms, but my family functions like any other family. I don’t find anything extremely different about us,” she says. So also, 15-year-old Michael Cooper, who lives in Springfield, Va. , with his single lesbian mom, Melodie Cooper, 38, says that since kindergarten he has “understood that I just have a mommy and maybe I might have another mommy one day” (Neff, 2004)
Adoption by homosexuals sometimes is an absolute necessity due to circumstances. There are times when a parent-child bond between the child and the homosexual parent is already built before the issue is debated. The child might be the homosexual’s own child, or the biological parent may be for some reason or other not in a position to handle custody of the child (Posner, 2002). It is also possible that in some cases, the child might have bounced around from one foster home to another, and homosexual adoption might be the child’s only prospect for any sort of home life (Posner, 2002).
These are some of the reasons why courts do not support formation of rigid rules against adoption by homosexuals. Homosexual adoption has received support on February 3rd, 2006 from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) which issued a policy statement endorsing “adoption by same-sex couples”, saying “they can provide the same emotionally healthy family life as heterosexual parents” (Byrd, 2006). The academy is mobilizing its 55,000 members to support laws that allow lesbians and gays to adopt the children of their partner (Byrd, 2006). Conclusion:
Above all, it has been found that homosexuals are a valuable parenting resource in the context of increasing numbers of children put up for adoption. David Brodzinsky, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and director of the Foster Care Counseling Project at Rutgers says: “With over a half-million children in foster care and more than 100,000 waiting to be placed for adoption, the need for more adoptive parents is evident…. Homosexuals are a valuable parenting resource for raising children that need families” (USA Today, 2003).
He also admits that there is a growing awareness that homosexuals can be good parents to children just as heterosexuals. Jo Mcgowan supports the above argument by pointing out that any child who is put up for adoption is one who has been abandoned by its mother and hence the child is one who is suffering a huge loss. The grief of the child cannot be denied and couples who are volunteering to be parents of such a grieved child should be sensitive to the feelings of the child. At least one of the adopting parents should be able to stay at home and provide care to the child.
Jo Mcgowan says that such a baby needs to be held more often and loved extra specially. : She protests against the recent decision by Catholic Charities of Boston to refuse to allow gay couples to adopt children: “As a Catholic, I am grieved by this rejection of love freely offered, selflessly and heroically. As the mother of an adopted child, I am amazed at the stupidity of a policy that denies the unique capacity of gay couples to provide what would be adoptive children so desperately need”. She concludes that some people because of their life experiences are better at some tasks than others (Mcgowan, 2006).
Gay couples, Mcgowan feels have given up many things for the sake of love and often are forced to face a hostile intolerant world. Only such people can understand the unconditional acceptance an adopted child needs. “If, having risked being ostracized and rejected by the community …they are still willing to offer their lives and their hearts as a haven for children in the most desperate need of protection and unconditional acceptance, who on earth are we to say they are unworthy? ” (Mcgowan, 2006). Homosexual or not, all parents are similar in wanting the very best for their children.
But due to the fact that there are a lot of prejudices and false notions regarding homosexuals in society, there has been a hue and cry from certain quarters regarding adoption by them. It is good to remember in this context, that when gay people choose to have a child, it’s mainly due to a strong desire to have a child and a family. This may not be always the case in the case of normal couples. Therefore, homosexuals should be allowed to adopt children as long as they can provide them with lifelong love and care and give them a healthy environment to grow in.
USA Today (2003). Adoption More Open for Gays and Lesbians. USA Today. Volume: 131. Issue: 2695. April 2003. Page Number: 8+ Posner, A. Richard (2002). Sex and Reason. Harvard University Press. 2002. Page Number: 417. The New American (2002). Homosexual Adoption Endorsed. Volume: 18. Issue: 4. February 25, 2002. Page Number: 6. Mcgowan, Jo (2006). To Welcome a Child: Gay Couples & Adoption. Commonweal. Volume: 133. Issue: 9. May 5, 2006. Page Number: 8