Legality of Same-Sex Marriages Parents Adopting Children

Several arguments press for recognition of same-sex parent adoption rights in all U.S. states. Firstly anti-gay politicians willfully misinterpreted a Constitutional clause to suppress such rights. Secondly, same-sex parents are normal humans with normal parental cravings mostly finding adoption the only solution. Thirdly same-sex parents are responsible and aware of financial and other implications of adoption. Fourthly many children await adoption, many of whom are not acceptable to heterosexual couples. Fifthly there is no evidence that children are harmed – sexually or otherwise – by being reared by same-sex parents. Lastly legally refusing second-parent adoption after artificial insemination is unjust to child and non-birth giving parents. In overall perspective, current indications display a favorable response from the American people towards same-sex parent adoption.

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Emboldened by increasing global recognition of their sexual orientation, the latest venture of gays and lesbians into obtaining more rights has been into parenthood by legal adoption. In the United States, at present, the District of Columbia, as well as 11 states {California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Vermont}, have laws in place that permit same-sex married couples to adopt children. It is high time the remaining States emulate them, take cognizance of the overwhelming arguments in favor of the practice, stop their unfair restriction and allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children.

The first argument charges U.S. politicians with being guilty of misinterpreting a section of the nation’s Constitution to promote their so-called ideals that in fact are ill-camouflaged ways of gaining political mileage. The part in question is Section I in Article IV of the U.S. Constitution which states: “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records, and Proceedings shall be provided, and the Effect thereof”. This clause has been manipulated to suppress the rights of same-sex parents. For example, Texas Senator Robert Talton declared in 2003: “If it was me, I would rather [leave] kids in orphanages as such – this is where they are now if they’re not fostered out.” Talton conveniently ‘forgot’ that Texas does not have orphanages. The issue of same-sex marriage during the 2004 Presidential elections was well exploited by the righteous President Bush {professing support for a Constitutional amendment to withdraw permission to states to seek their own solution and ban same-sex marriages outright} to secure victory over John Kerry. The victory of Bush at that time must be reconsidered in the light of 3 interesting facts. Firstly, the margin of Bush’s victory over Kerry was wafer-thin; also, Bush’s running partner Dick Cheney went on record to disagree on the matter, saying he preferred the decision be left to {as required by Section I, Act IV of the Constitution} the states. Secondly, the years leading to 2004 threw up statistics that greatly undermined the Bush anti-gay stance. While in 1990, 5% of male and 20% of female same-sex partners were raising children, the figures rose to 20% and 33% respectively in 2000. A survey conducted by the Urban Institute in 2000 found nearly 250,000 children were living in same-sex partner households, of which 10,500 were adopted or in foster care – figures nearly 100% more than heterosexual couples. A poll conducted by Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in 2003 revealed that 60% of adoption agencies allocated children to same-sex households. The gay movement received its greatest boost in the Lawrence v Texas landmark case in 2003 where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sodomy laws were unconstitutional; sparking ‘rapid changes in custody and visitation case law,’ the ruling hugely favored adoption by same-sex parents. Lastly, four years have passed since Bush’s victory over Kerry, and during that time the gay movement to obtain greater recognition and rights has gained greater momentum and success. The success factor can be assessed from the fact that at present {apart from the 11 states and the District of Columbia that allow same-sex parents to adopt}, just 1 state {Florida} prohibits adoption both by single gays as well as same-sex parents, 2 states (Missouri and North Dakota} are unclear on both issues, 3 states {Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Utah} allow adoption by single gays but not same-sex parents, while the remaining states allow single gays to adopt while at the same time do not clearly prohibit adoption rights to same-sex parents. The sole exception is the state of Florida that still continues extracting mileage from Anita Bryant’s 1977 ‘Save the Children Campaign,’ to go on persisting that gays ‘go back into the closet’. While no one could have imagined a decade ago that we would see same-sex civil unions or marriages happening in our lifetime (Lev, 27), and the makers of the Constitution certainly could not have even dreamt of such a situation, their foresight in writing Article IV, Section I of the Constitution as they did is highly commendable.

The second argument is that same-sex parents are normal human beings who possess the same human characteristics and drives as their heterosexual counterparts. Thinking about becoming a parent is a normative development process for all people – men and women – during their reproductive and middle years – a process that was stolen, hidden, or barred from them until his past decade (Lev, 141). They can have children in three ways: they can bring with them children from earlier relationships {applicable to gay men and women}, they can choose to get impregnated by artificial insemination (Sember, 14) {applicable to lesbians} or they can go in for legal adoption. While the third option is available to gay men and women, the former find it is the only way out in case neither of the partners has children from earlier relationships. Even lesbian partners who do not have children from earlier relationships prefer adoption as artificial insemination {unless it involves one parent’s eggs being implanted along with donated sperm in the other parent’s uterus (Sember, 19)} is looked upon as too one-sided as only one of the partners gets the total child-bearing job.

The third argument is that same-sex parents are as responsible as their heterosexual counterparts. It is not only conservatives who form the opposition; often same-sex parents themselves wonder if they can be good parents or if living in a gay/lesbian family will affect their adopted children adversely (Lev, 28). In fact, they are the most prepared parents in the world (Lev, 24). Deciding to adopt is not easy. It brings with it new costs and financial responsibilities (Sember, 20) and it is difficult and inconvenient, involving evaluation by other people {not all of whom are gay-friendly}(Sember, 19), who conduct that is probably the most feared hurdle in the adoption process by same-sex parents – the home study (Sember, 41).

The fourth argument is that there is an inordinately large number of children in the country who are on the adoption waiting list. These children are often removed from their homes abruptly and

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in the middle of very stressful situations (Sember, 137). Rob Woronoff, spokesperson of Child Welfare League of America {CWLA} has gone on record to state that the child welfare system in the U.S. is mired in deep crisis because there are not enough families coming forward to adopt children. North American Council on Adoptable Children reports that nearly 520,000 children are in foster homes in the U.S. Most of the children have been abused, mistreated, or emotionally damaged in the process of being moved around to different foster homes (Sember, 20). Out of these, although 120,000 are ready for adoption, only 50,000 ultimately reach permanent homes every year. In the U.S., most of the children available for adoption immediately are older children who have gone through foster care (Sember, 26) or children with special needs, such as children with HIV (Lev, 121). The children left behind, especially the ‘odd’ ones, have been accepted in foster care by same-sex couples, who are now desirous of adopting the children. Adoptive parents feel considerably ostracized, which is a feeling gays and lesbians already know how to cope with (Sember, 133). Renowned actress Rosie O’Donnell {a lesbian living with her same-sex partner Kelli O’Donnell and their 4 adopted children} unerringly points to the reason for same-sex couples’ partiality towards adopting ‘odd’ children: “As a gay person as a child, you kind of know what it’s like to be the odd one out”. By not allowing adoption by same-sex parents, the authorities are not permitting the already existing loving relationship between children and same-sex couples to blossom into full-fledged fruition acceptable by society. This attitude is especially unfair to the children as they are being refused the opportunity to live in safe, sound, and permanent households, as well as hypocritical because some states do their best to encourage the adoption of foster care children by providing special tuition assistance or waivers (Sember, 74). Also weighing in the favor of same-sex parents is their tendency not to shy away from trans-racial domestic {usually African-American or Latino children} or international {usually Asian children} adoption (Lev, 73).

The fifth argument is that researchers have been unable to find any evidence that children are harmed by being reared by same-sex parents (Lev, 27). Anti-gay arguments that children are in danger of being sexually abused by gay men have been proven wrong by large-scale research of sexually abused children that discovered the crime perpetrators were almost totally either heterosexuals in adult alliances or men who did not have any sexual urge towards adults. In addition, scientific studies have discovered 2 important facts. The first is that interaction with parents {rather than the parents’ sexual leaning} exercises greater swaying power over children. The second is that children reared in same-sex parent homes do not emotionally or socially lag in any way as compared to children living in heterosexual parents’ homes. These studies have been instrumental in evoking the firm support for same-sex couples to adopt children by the respected American Association of Pediatrics as well as the American Psychological Association which declared in 2004: “Lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children”. Added in favor of same-sex parents is the fact that the divorce rate for heterosexual couples in the U.S is 45 percent for the first marriage, 60 percent for the second (Lev, 46), the potential of divorce increasing thereafter after each successive marriage (Lev, 214); it is well known that divorce causes great upheaval in the life of children who often suffer unpleasant repercussions well into their later lives.

The last argument is that if the same-sex couple has a child by way of artificial insemination, the law recognizes only the parent giving birth as the child’s legal guardian. By not permitting adoption {second-parent adoption in this case}, the non-birth-giving parent does not have legal custody of the child. As a result, if the custodial parent dies, the other parent and child are both adversely affected. Despite having been actively involved in rearing the child, maybe even for many years, the other parent is looked upon as a stranger by the law. The child, on its part, can exercise no claim on the other parent’s health insurance or social security in case that parent becomes disabled or legally incapable.

In conclusion, the issue of adoption by gay and lesbian couples in most States is no more than an ill-concealed attempt by right-wing factions to revive the prejudice that earlier existed against gays and lesbians. First, it was formal recognition, then acceptance into the armed forces, then it was marriage and now it is adoption. The latest issue has nothing to do with the welfare of adoptable children, but only glaringly exposes the lengths to which the anti-gay right-wing will stoop to incorporate their prejudice into state laws and employ them as a ploy to attract a greater share of the anti-gay vote bank. Sadly for them, their efforts are doomed to failure simply because Americans are displaying more understanding and acceptance of gay and lesbian relationships, and they will definitely view the right-wing stance as unjustifiably punitive. Adam Pertman, executive director of Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute elucidated what is arguably the best indication of the American response to the issue of same-sex parent adoption: “Social workers are asking how they can recruit more [gay parents] because they’re working. That’s the best validation I can think of unless you think all these child welfare professionals are out to harm kids”.

References

Belge, K. (2008). Lesbian & Gay Adoption Rights. 2008. Web.

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Johnson, R. (2008). Where is Gay Adoption Legal? Web.

Lev, A.I. (2004). The Complete Lesbian & Gay Parenting Guide. USA: Berkeley Publishing Group.

The Right to Marry. (N.d). 2008. Web.

Sanchez, J. (2005). The Looming Battle over Gay Parenting. 2008. Web.

Sember, B.M. (2006). Gay & Lesbian Parenting Choices: From Adopting or Using a Surrogate to Choosing the Perfect Father. USA: Career Press.

Stone, A. (2006). Both Sides on Gay Adoption Cite Concern for Children. 2008. Web.

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