Gay Adoption: Is Your Opinion Valid?
For the sake of many thousands of children in state funded facilities, the issue of gay adoption must be resolved using logic and not biased opinion. Many would argue that two parent heterosexual families can provide a child with a more stable upbringing. This solution would certainly reduce the number of beautiful children who are in need of loving homes, but reality clearly shows that the number of heterosexual couples is exceeded by the number of children who patiently wait for them.
Although many would argue that gay adoption is inappropriate, and contradictory to many religious beliefs, the number of children needing to be placed with these loving families is steadily increasing; therefore, laws should be amended to allow same-sex adoption. In the United States, state laws vary on the issue of Gay and Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender adoption (GLBT). At this time, only a handful of states permit GLBT adoption, or same-sex joint adoption. For economic reasons as well as logic, the inevitable burden to the taxpayer is also steadily on the rise. For instance, a national ban on GLBT adoption could see the federal government facing a $130 million expense to take care of children who could have already been placed into families (Maxwell, 2008).
Figures from the Census Bureau show that "The percentage of adopted children under 18 who are black is 16%. Additionally, 7 percent are Asian and 2 percent are American Indian and Alaska native. Adopted children are more likely to be of these race groups than are biological children or stepchildren" (Census, 2008). The only economic solution appears to be the most obvious; that is, to locate as many new adoptive parents as possible to raise these beautiful children. But where does one begin the search for such people?
Many heterosexual couples, who are already raising families of their own, opt to adopt children, though many only adopt one child. Some families prefer to adopt a child who is the same race as they are; some have not given any thought to adoption or fostering a child at all. Is there any method of advertising effective enough to prompt prospective parents to adopt? If not, it would appear that numbers of orphaned children will continue to rise, as the number of families wanting to provide them with homes steadily decreases. In the State of Arkansas alone, "the Senate moved to ban gay couples from adopting or fostering children. However, a study on the economic effects of gay adoption found that 9,300 to 14,000 children would be displaced if gay couples were expelled from the foster and adoptive care systems." (Weigel, 2007).
There are plenty of same-sex couples willing to adopt or foster children, and this would provide a simple solution to decreasing the number of children who are in state care facilities and foster homes. When it comes to locating these generous and loving families, Arkansas seems to be one state which has repeatedly taken backward steps. The Arkansas Family Council has been actively pursing a ban on unmarried couples fostering or adopting children. In the state of Arkansas, gay couples cannot be married, nor are they recognized as married if the union took place in another state or country. Ironically, to put such a ban into place, this group of advocates has also had to ban heterosexual single parents. This significantly adds the already present problem of too many children, and not enough eligible adoptive families. In 2008, it was reported that Arkansas voters would decide in whether to ban unmarried couples from fostering or adopting children. Secretary of State Charlie Daniels certified the measure, saying that the Arkansas Family Council Action Committee had submitted 85,389 valid signatures from registered voters - more than 23-thousand more valid names than required by law.
Last month the socially conservative group that spearheaded Arkansas' constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, handed in its petitions prior to the state deadline for getting issues on the November ballot. But the secretary of state validated only 57,888 signatures. Since the number fell within a state "grace" guideline the group was given another 30 days to get the additional signatures. Arkansas Families First, the group fighting the measure said it is preparing to take the issue to court. Spokesperson Debbie Willhite said the group will ask the Arkansas Supreme Court to enjoin the initiative. The adoption referendum is similar to a bill that died in the Legislature earlier this year. That legislation failed after Gov. Mike Beebe suggested that there were constitutional problems with the bill, although he would not say if he intended to veto it if it were passed. (365gay Newscenter Staff, 2007. p.1) Update; Arkansas voters have opted to ban the adoption and foster care of children by 'single parents', a devious move to exclude those who are gay. Now what?
Of the escalating number of children needing to be adopted, it should also be noted that many children can only be adopted along with their siblings. In addition to this, over 500,000 children awaiting adoption in these United States are African American boys (Munroe, 2008). Based on common sense it is also easy to see that the number of African American parents waiting to adopt children is significantly lower than the number of white heterosexual couples. Taking all of these variables into account, it can safely be said that any ban which limits the number of eligible parents to foster or adopt, is simply unacceptable.
Reports by Fox News and Associated Press (2008) recently quoted Dr Jill Fussell, a pediatrician, who said "We need more homes, not less." (para 1). Still on the topic of economics, no evidence has been presented to suggest that a white heterosexual couple is more financially stable than any same-sex couple. In fact, the opposite is the case, with statistics showing that "Significantly, same-sex couples raising adopted children are older, more educated, and have more economic resources than other adoptive parents This is fortunate for the foster-care system because an estimated 14,000 foster children are living with lesbian or gay parents, which means that same-sex parents are raising three percent of foster children in America" (Maxwell, 2008). So what is the fate of these thousands of babies if a ban is put into place? Will there be enough white heterosexual couples who are financially able and emotionally willing to adopt? The answer is of course, a resounding no, regardless of the presence of all biased opinion about homosexuality.
It is a simple assumption that if no other solution is found and religious organizations cannot offer an unbiased alternative to this ongoing crisis, logic simply must prevail. The American Psychological Association does not recognize the presence any mental deficiency where same-sex, homosexual or lesbian parents are concerned. In fact, homosexuality is not even on the list of diagnosable disorders. Biased opinion using mental stability is commonly the product of ignorance and prejudice, and therefore it has no place in the process of implementing legislation. A greater concern should be that of eradicating acts of discrimination. After all, it is not the case that an African American couples are not permitted to adopt children; the GLBT community deserves the same privileges as anyone else. Furthermore, such discrimination toward these groups of people directly affects the future of every child in state care, but does little to deter these devoted would-be parents.
It is not possible to discriminate against prospective LGBT parents, without also showing utter disrespect for the thousands of kids who need them so desperately. Respect is also due to those whose religious beliefs do not condone homosexuality. In an article concerning discrimination published in Christianity Today, "There is no wish to discriminate against gay people in service provision," said Don Horrocks, the Evangelical Alliance's head of public affairs. "Rather, Christians and other religious groups don't want to find themselves coerced by law to facilitate or promote homosexual activity. It involves a basic religious liberty—freedom of conscience." It should also be noted however, that such actions also cross the line where privacy issues are concerned, once again leaving the kids out in the cold.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair made his stance on discrimination quite clear in 2007, when he ruled that "Roman Catholic adoption agencies should not be exempted" (James, 2007). Despite the ruling though, The Roman Catholic Church warned of its decision to cease placing children into any homes, let alone those of GLBT parents. Ironically, during the ongoing debates over GLBT adoption, no gay person has objected to any religious beliefs which imply that intimate relations must be kept between heterosexual couples, because they see that the issue is not relevant to the needs of the children.
Modern law says that discrimination is not permitted in a workplace environment; therefore, it can also be said that it is hypocritical for anyone to pass judgment about the morals of prospective parents based on their own religious or homophobic opinions. The same can be said for schools, where more needs to be done to implement anti-harassment policies. Unfortunately, it is not always the children who are to blame for harassment and discrimination in schools. The American Civil Liberties Union (n.d) reports that "In spite of this progress, many GLBT youth face tremendous difficulties when they go to school every day. Harassment is commonplace -- nearly 70% of GLBT students say they have been harassed, threatened, or physically assaulted at school. And schools themselves are often part of the problem -- 53% of students say they've heard homophobic comments made by school staff."
It is worth restating now, that it is logical to allow books about homosexuality in all public and school libraries in an attempt to defeat ignorance. Social Workers too, should be educated sufficiently to be able to offer an unbiased opinion when it comes to recommending or denying prospective parents. Sadly, this is not always the case. Tony Scott and Scott Amos of Tennessee were fortunate to adopt the infant son of a friend, after a Social Worker recommended them as suitable parents. The Social Worker however, was not initially convinced that their home was the right place for the baby, and was opposed to the idea for several months. Having spent time with them, she soon changed her mind, and happily, the couple proceeded to adopt the babies two other siblings as well. Scott and Amos, as well as five of the 18 children they had fostered over the years, had been left heartbroken 11 months earlier when Judge Carey Garrett ordered the removal of the children from their home. The Judge made the order after he decided that the home was and Amos and Scott's lifestyle was immoral. (Advocate, 2007). Another Christian Judge, Andrew McClintock was himself forced to resign from his employment, after being faced with a case where his own bias would interfere with his decision to pass legal judgment. (Personnel Today, 2007).
Discrimination has no place in society for any reason, just as it is not tolerated in the workplace. The sexual preferences of consenting adults has no relevance to the alarming statistics which show the many precious children whose only wish it is to have a place to call home. A proactive approach to creating public awareness will play a major role in removing ignorance and resolving one of the nation's largest ongoing problems. Support for homosexual, gay and lesbian people who are willing and able to make a lifelong commitment to raising healthy and productive families is long overdue. It is clear to all who possess common sense that laws do, indeed, need to be amended to allow GLBT fostering and adoption. For anyone who feels they have a valid reason to oppose such bans, one needs to ask the pertinent question; are you a foster parent?
Advocate, (2007). Another Family's Story, 991, 40-41. Retrieved August 23, 2007.from EBSCOhost database. American Civil Liberties Union (n.d.)
Adoption and Foster Care. Retrieved September 24, 2008. from http://www.aclu.org/getequal/scho/index.html Associated Press (2008).Arkansas Judges Oppose Measure to Ban Gay Adoption, Foster Care. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/index.html
365gay News center Staff. (2008). Arkansas to vote on gay adoption ban. Retrieved from http://www.365gay.com/news/082508-arkansas-adoption-ban/
Groups Testify Against Arkansas Ban on Unmarried Foster Parents. Associated Press. (2008) Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/index.html
American Psychological Association (n.d.) Lesbian and Gay Parenting. Retrieved September 24, 2008.from http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/publications/lgparenting
Burroway, J. (2007). LGB'scontinue to take it on the chin. T's, by law, still aren't even counted. Retrieved October 13, 2008 from http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2007/11/19/1024
James, B. (2007). No Exceptions. Sexual orientation regulation stirs debate between Christians Christianity Today. Retrieved August 23, 2008. from http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/april/3.19.html
Maxwell, L. (2008). Building Rainbow Families. Library Journal, 133(6), 54-57. Retrieved September 24, 2008.from EBSCOhost database
Munroe, R. (2007).Race Relations, 991, 41-41. Retrieved September 24, 2008.from EBSCOhost database Personnel Today, (2007).Untitled, 70-70. Retrieved September 24, 2008.from EBSCOhost database
Weigel, D. (2007). Foster Follies, 39, (3), 12-13. Retrieved September 24, 2008.from EBSCOhost database