Thirty years ago in 1979, a gay couple in California became the first in the United States to jointly adopt a child. That was decades ago and the fight for equality for homosexual couples is on-going to this day. Homosexual couples have been struggling to adopt for decades, mainly due to the fact that gay marriage was illegal for a long time. But now that homosexual couples are able to wed, why is it still a struggle to add to their family through adoption? While the issue of marriage has been settled, same-sex couples who choose to have children still face a large amount of laws around the country that define who can become a parent. This introduces complications about where LGBTQ couples chose to live and how they form their families, an array of uncertainties straight couples do not have to think about.
There have been minor improvements over the years but no precedent was set regarding LGBTQ adoption. After fighting for years to be given the same rights as heterosexual couples, homosexuals made headway in 2016 when a federal judge overturned the gay adoption ban in Mississippi. Thanks to the marriage equality ruling of Obergefell vs. Hodges, a precedent was set; since homosexual marriage was now legal isn’t it logical that it should be followed by the fact that they can’t be denied the rights of any other married couple to adopt a child. Prior to 2016 states were allowed to declare homosexual couple adoption illegal, now no states are able to make homosexual couple adoption illegal. One might think, so why is this topic controversial? Things were not settled after 2016. There are several states which have passed laws against gay adoption based on religious freedom.
These laws are based on religion, meaning that private adoption agencies are able to refuse to work with homosexual couples, including married homosexual couples, that wish to adopt through them if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. Deputy director and family law director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Cathy Sakimura said “You can be completely respected and protected as a family in one state and be a complete legal stranger to your children in another. To know that you could drive into another state and not be considered a parent anymore, that’s a pretty terrifying situation”. Judges have struggled with how to set a precedent for these cases, on one hand it is illegal discrimination to deny a homosexual couple the right to adopt but on the other hand the first amendment allows for freedom of religion. These agencies are refusing to work with homosexual couples for religious reasons so it is hard for judges to define the boundaries of this issue. Their argument is they do not feel comfortable placing a child in a home that goes against their religious beliefs but what happens to the child who cannot get adopted? Years of foster care and false hope of a family?
Those who are against homosexual couples adopting believe that it is wrong for a child to have two same-sex parents, but isn’t it more wrong to keep a child in a foster home waiting to have a family? “In 2016, more than 65,000 children – whose mothers’ and fathers’ parental rights had been legally terminated – were waiting to be adopted” (Children’s Rights, 2019). The goal of adoption agencies is to place children in loving and capable homes, with homosexual couples being four times as likely to adopt than heterosexual couples, banning them from adopting would cause 65,000 children to become thousands more. Not only would it leave many more children awaiting adoption, the financial costs associated with with keeping a child in foster care would cost the country millions. “Banning homosexuals adoption and foster care would cost the country $87 to $130 million in lost child care, with individual states losing as much as $27 million” (Compton, 2016).
By allowing homosexual couples to adopt and foster it is cutting the costs for the country tremendously while simultaneously giving a child a loving home. The adoption process is lengthy and dives deep into the stability of the potential home, the couples financials, and the history of both individuals. Homosexual couples go in to the process knowing all of this and meeting the required qualifications, so you can guarantee the child is going to a stable household that can provide for them. The intent of adoption agencies is to place children in the best homes but these companies restricting LGBTQ couples from adopting is restricting children from getting a family. “While states should work rapidly to find safe permanent homes for kids, on any given day children available for adoption have spent an average of nearly two years waiting to be adopted since their parental rights were terminated” (Children’s Rights, 2019). If it were up to the child, I guarantee they would rather be adopted by two same-sex parents than to stay in the foster care system. Adoption is one of the only routes for homosexual couples so as they begin the process they actively choose and work hard to become parents, meaning homosexual parents can be more motivated, involved, and committed than some heterosexual parents.
“Charlotte Patterson, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia is an expert in the psychology of sexual orientation. She and others have examined numerous child outcomes and have never reported that knowing the sexual orientation of a child’s parents can be used as a predictor of how that child will do. Instead, children of gay parents are subject to the same influences as children of heterosexual couples” (Johnson, 2013). Her work shows that children with same-sex parents are not going to be negatively affected by having two same-sex parents as opposed to two opposite-sex parents. According to data published by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, in 2011 the divorce rate for same-sex couples was 1.1% per year, while the divorce rate for straight couples was 2% per year. If the goal is to get children in to a stable home with two parents who love each other, homosexual couples are proving to have a better outcome with that. They are getting divorced at half the rate heterosexual couples are and can provide that level of stability for children that heterosexual couples are failing to do. Heterosexual couples, homosexual couples, adoption agencies and the government all have the same end goal in mind – to place children in loving and stable homes.
While a safe home, nurturing parents, and a solid socioeconomic status are requirements in providing a safe home to children it is believed by many that a mom and a dad are requirements as well. For a child to become a well-rounded person they should require a male and female role model, many assuming that comes from a mother and a father, which makes them against homosexual adoption. “God created two sexes—male and female—and that each sex has a unique role and gifting intended to benefit the other and the family” (Lombardo, 2014). People believe that God created a man and a women with the intent they it requires both to make a child and therefore it should be the job of a man and a woman to raise a child. Their religious beliefs are protected by the first amendment and if an adoption agency has a religious affiliation they are able to refuse to work with homosexuals who are trying to become parents, as it goes against their values and religious beliefs. If the government were to enforce a law that states no adoption agency can refuse to work with homosexuals, those adoption agencies could retaliate and decide to close. Which would leave the country with less adoption agencies and more children left in foster care waiting to be adopted.
Lawyers for New Hope Family Services claims “Enforcing the anti-discrimination rule will not help a single child in need find a loving home. It will instead remove effective providers from the system, depriving vulnerable children of adoptive families” (Gershman, 2018). So while trying to fix one thing, a whole new problem could be created because of it. If a judge were to say adoption agencies nationwide have to enforce the anit-discrimination law they are contradicting themselves as they also enforce freedom of religion. There is a theory that children become their parents, so if their parents are homosexual they are more likely to be as well. Walter Schumm, Kansas State University researcher, concluded that “28 percent of the children (over age 17) of same-sex parents identify as gay with the figure dropping to 20 percent for children under age 17. The rate of homosexuality for children raised by heterosexual parents is just under four percent” (Muehlenberg, 2018). To provide the best home for children, should we be keeping them away from the influences homosexual parents will have on them?
The answer is no, we should be fighting harder to be inclusive of homosexual couples and allowing them to adopt should not even be a question. Those who believe a child needs a mom and a dad to have a male and female role model is wrong. Children have role models other than their parents and can get the influence of both genders anywhere, including school, work, friends, other family members, etc. it does not need to be from parents. Children with two parents are likely better off because they have parents that will accept them no matter what and will feel more comfortable expressing themselves and their feelings to their parents. The statics for children of gay parents being gay is higher not because the parents are making them be gay but because they feel more comfortable coming out to them knowing they will be accepted. I am friends with this boy named Bryce who was adopted from China as a baby by two men. He also has an older brother who was also adopted from China as a baby so they have both been raised by two men from birth. Bryce is gay but his brother is not and neither of them have ever been afraid to express themselves to their dads because they know they will be accepted by them.
Bryce and his brother both attend college and have had great lives that they would not have had if they were not adopted by two men. I have always believed homosexuals should have all the same rights that heterosexuals do, including the right to a family. I grew up with a very accepting family and attending a church that was all inclusive, including the LGBTQ community. I understand the argument of religion but I do not agree with it considering I was raised in a church that was accepting of homosexuals and believed God created all people equally and they should be treated that way. On the specific issue of homosexual adoption, I was really shaped by television and the media. Specifically watching shows like “The Fosters” where the children were raised by a lesbian couple and “Modern Family” where a gay couple adopted a daughter. Though these shows are fictional, they showed me that homosexual parents are a lot like heterosexual parents and can provide the same level of care to their children. I think it would be great to see adoption agencies provide more information to mother who are considering adoption for their baby and open their minds to the idea of same-sex parents for their baby. It might be a good start to have adoption agencies specifically for homosexual couples so everyone who comes there is accepting of homosexual adoption.
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- Retrieved from https://www.childrensrights.org/newsroom/fact-sheets/foster-care/
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- Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/adopting-reason/201611/kids-can-thrive-gay-parents
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- Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/clash-over-same-sex-adoption-heads-to-court-11545388201
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- Retrieved from https://hub.jhu.edu/magazine/2013/fall/gay-couple-adoption/
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- Retrieved from https://www.lambdalegal.org/know-your-rights/article/trans-parenting-faq
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- Retrieved from https://plantingseedsbook.org/gay-parenting-pros-and-cons/
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- Stern, M. J. (2014, August 01). Some Conservatives Would Rather Keep Kids in Foster Care Than Let Gays Adopt Them.
- Retrieved from https://slate.com/human-interest/2014/08/conservatives-want-to- keep-gay-couples-from-adopting-or-fostering kids.html
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- Retrieved from https://rewire.news/article/2018/12/14/lgbtq-adoption