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10/11/11  8:37 pm
Commenter: Angela Meyers, Federal Government

Use common sense, not discrimination
 

During graduate study at the University of Southern California, I wrote my thesis on same-sex parenting and also delved into the issue of gay couples who adopt.  Below is a newspaper article I wrote on the subject, but I also have a full-length thesis and if you are interested, I'd be happy to submit that as well. 

In my experience and research, I have come to believe that gay parents may actually have traits, circumstances in place, and resources (internally and externally) that tend to, as a group, set them up to be more capable, loving, involved parents when compared to their straight counterparts.  I was literally brought to tears while interviewing some gay parents, particularly those who opted to adopt versus try to have biological children of their own.  Their desire and willingness and ability to love and care for kids is real. I also know that there are countless kids who grow up in the foster care system and without a secure base and without consistent love, those kids often become problematic drains on society.  If it's possible to give them a consistent home as opposed to none, I consider it unethical to disallow gays to help those children. 

What's more important?  Giving kids in need homes and care they deserve, or maintaining a status quo that is discriminatory against gays and doesn't help the kids in need?  The answer seems obvious to me.  Someday, we'll look back on this ban and compare it to not allowing women to vote or counting blacks as property.  All humans deserve to be treated equally.  If religious adoption agencies cannot abide by this standard, then they need not be in the business of helping children find homes; someone else should be providing that service.

Here's a brief explanation of why I believe the "ban" on gay adoption needs to be lifted and instead a ban on gay discrimination during the adoption process needs to be put in place:

 

In the United States, there are more than half a million children in foster care waiting to be adopted. In fact, according to a press release by Los Angeles County's Department of Children and Family Services, there are 82,000 children in California alone who are stuck in "the system," waiting to be wanted.

Meanwhile, there are countless same-sex couples who desperately want children but who are often discriminated against in the adoption process. According to a study conducted at Rutgers University, 37 percent of U.S . adoption agencies do not even accept applications from gay people. And when homosexuals are allowed to adopt, they usually end up with kids who straight people don't want: older or minority children or those with medical or mental health problems.

Adoption agencies must think that gays are suboptimal parents, that homosexuals may cause harm to their children. For example some people think that gays will somehow cause their children to be gay, too (you don't really believe that, do you?). Or maybe adoption agencies believe that gays are more likely to sexually molest children than straight people are (this, too, is not fact-based). What is clear, nevertheless, is that adoption agencies obviously prefer that kids have both a female and a male to guide them through life. Having two loving parents is not enough.

However, I think there is abundant and irrefutable evidence that gays are just as capable - if not more able - to parent children when compared to their straight counterparts. Here's why.

First, gays, by definition, will be prepared for parenting. There are no pregnancy "accidents" for gays, as opposed to straight couples or single women who may have children who were not planned for or wanted. In other words, 100 percent of kids of homosexuals are wanted. The same is not always true for the offspring of heterosexuals. And whether a child is wanted must tremendously influence their well being as they go through life.

 
Gays who opt into parenthood tend to be very committed, as well. Parenthood, for gays, is not something they enter into lightly, as some heterosexuals do. In fact, having children is looked upon by many homosexuals as the most serious commitment they can make to a partner. When a child has two parents - regardless of their gender - who are completely committed to each other, this is in the best interest of the child.

Also, in my experience, gays as a group tend to value diversity. Clearly, they must appreciate sexual and gender diversity based on their own minority status. And as a result, they tend to be more flexible when it comes to gender roles. This type of flexibility in accepting people of different types may actually carry over into their parenting styles, as well. In other words, parents who are generally accepting of a variety of types of people may be more inclined to be understanding about an array of qualities that their children may possess, as well.

Similarly, gay parents may, in fact, actually encourage children to seek out and explore a variety of hobbies, for instance, because of this inherent appreciation for diversity. And it makes intuitive sense that this might subsequently lead their children to become more well-rounded individuals as a result.

Another obvious strength that gay parents have to offer to their children is complete acceptance if the child ends up being gay, too. Of course, coming out of the closet can be a traumatizing experience for a lot of youths, and the fact that kids of gays don't even have to worry about rejection is a huge benefit in terms of their development into adults. This same level of complete acceptance might not always occur for children with heterosexual moms and dads.

Through my research on gay parents, I've also found that they, as a group, typically emphasize the importance of communication in their relationships. This directly corresponds with emotional understanding and sensitivity that might also put children of gays at an advantage.

Oh, and another thing: On average, gays tend to make more money. So they can provide more and perhaps better resources to their children, on average, as well.

Now, I'm not saying that heterosexuals are all bad parents. And I'm not arguing that all gays and lesbians will be wonderful parents, either. To argue such extremes would certainly be ignorant and foolish.

What I am saying, though, is that there are several factors related to being homosexual that may coincide with traits and qualities that would make them excellent parents as a group, on average.

And considering the thousands of children in need of homes, acceptance, and love, it is crazy not to allow gays an equal opportunity to adopt.

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