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Adoption of Children by Queer Couples

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) families have historically faced serious challenges in adopting children in the United States. February 2020 marked 51 years since Bill Jones has successfully adopted his son, Aaron (Bewkes et al.). In 1968, Jones broke one of the most persistent barriers to gay rights by becoming the first single gay man in California and, probably, the whole country to successfully navigate the process of adopting a child (Bewkes et al). The child welfare workers who assisted with the legal procedures of transferring parental rights advised Jones to conceal his sexual status to increase his chances of securing the custody of the kid since the child welfare agency was likely to decline his request.

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Consistent among gay parents, Jones was subjected to a vigorous and extensive application, court, and evaluation processes, which illuminate the systematic barriers to LGBTQ adoption (Gale 2). Unfortunately, five decades later, the U.S. legal and child welfare system still discriminate against LGBTQ couples aspiring to adopt children due to their sexual orientation. Although same-sex couples are commonly perceived as incompetent to raise children, LGBTQ families can provide appropriate parenting compared to heterosexual guardians; thus, they should be allowed to adopt children. This paper draws on previous research findings and existing evidence to support the argument that LGBTQ couples provide better parenting.

First, there is no concrete evidence to ban LGBTQ adoption since same-sex families can provide healthy parenting as their non-LGBTQ counterparts. Notably, the sexual orientation or identity of parents does not determine whether they are suitable to raise children or not. Previous studies have documented empirical evidence refuting the stereotype that different-sex couples are more competent parents than their same-sex counterparts.

Averett et al. examined emotional and behavioral problems exhibited by the children living with gay adopting parents (129). The results of their multiple regression analyses revealed no relationship between children’s behavior (both internalizing and externalizing) and parents’ sexual orientation (130). Averett et al. further found out that both same-sex parents and their different-sex counterparts exhibit heightened chances of encountering similar challenges related to addressing behavioral problems among their children (129). These findings confirm that both homosexual and heterosexual couples are better parents.

The results of this investigation have been confirmed by recent studies. One national survey established that children report similar general health outcomes, emotional impairments, coping patterns, and learning behaviors regardless of the type of family relationship (Bos et al. 179). Despite scoring higher on parenting stress, the results of this investigation show no significant link between household type and the psychological distress or family relationship (Bos et al. 179).

Northridge et al. opine that gay couples’ are likely to empathize with and adopt older children and those with special needs due to the stigma they may experience in foster care (62). In this context, same-sex parents, on average, have higher chances of being more motivated to raising children because they deliberately decide to adopt them, unlike some heterosexual couples who become parents as a result of unplanned pregnancies. Thus, it is unfair to deny gays and lesbians the right to adoption based on the misconception that they are not suitable to raise children.

Second, giving same-sex couples equal adoption rights and opportunities can help provide the best possible parents for children and reduce overcrowding in the foster care system. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) reported that the child welfare system hosted about 130,000 children who were waiting for adoption in 2005 (Averett et al.129). This figure has risen dramatically to approximately 443,000 in 2017 (Bewkes et al.).

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Each year, the child welfare system facilitates the legal transfer of more than 50,000 children from biological to non-biological parents (USDHHS). A significant portion of this population (20,000) fails to secure a permanent family (USDHHS). It is imperative to note that these children are not snatched from functional husband-and-wife couples. In addition to foster homes and orphanages, most of these kids are given by single and heterosexual parents who are not financially or emotionally able to care for their child (Gale 2). Ultimately, allowing same-sex parents to adopt some of these children can be a viable solution to the country’s chronic shortage of adoptive parents.

Besides that, gay couples are more likely to absorb certain children who often fail to get permanent families, including older children and special needs. About 270,000 children resided in homes headed by same-sex parents in 2005 (Watkins 2). By 2017, gay adoptions accounted for between 15% and 28% of children adopted from foster care in Massachusetts (Bewkes et al.). Finding permanent homes frees these minors from adverse outcomes such as arrest, teen pregnancy, and unemployment.

This argument is anchored on the evidence that same-sex marriages often lead to stable family relationships compared to their straight counterparts, promoting secure emotional growth and wellbeing of the adopted children (Averett et al.130). According to the National Council for Adoption, “serving the best interests of children should be paramount in deciding all issues of adoption policy and practice” (1). Consequently, abolishing legal and political barriers to adoption will not only decongest already overcrowded child welfare facilities but also secure the children’s welfare.

Third, denying same-sex couples the right to adopt children perpetuates discrimination, inequality, and fundamental human rights violations. Perception and attitudes toward gay marriages and parenting in the U.S. is changing rapidly. In 2005, gay marriage was legal in only one state across the country. By June 2015, the Supreme Court made a landmark ruling allowing LGBTQ communities to marry in all states (Gates 68). In 2016, the Supreme Court declared a Mississippi law denying gay couples the right to adopt unconstitutional (Gale 2). Civilized societies, including the U.S., prohibit any form of discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. Legalizing LGBTQ marriage and adoption rights was intended to make it easier for homosexual parents to retain a biological or adopted child’s custody. However, despite the above milestones, different-sex couples still face numerous barriers to adoption.

Notably, same-sex couples encounter discrimination and unfair treatment, especially when seeking legal and financial services involved in the adoption process. For example, several faith-based organizations have sponsored bills seeking to permit child welfare and foster care agencies to exempt LGBTQ communities from adopting children. In 2019, there were several active religious exemption bills purposed to allow state-licensed agencies to decline attempts to transfer of care and guardianship of children from their biological parents to gay households (McQueen 895).

The biased bills advocating for the denial of adoption services to LGBTQ individuals amounts to discrimination, violating the provision of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). This federal law aimed to make sure that state governments and agencies do not take discriminatory actions against individuals exercising their religious rights. The denial of equal rights to LGBTQ couples is outright bias and discrimination. Gay and straight couples deserve to be treated equally regarding adoption. Any reservation or exemption is perpetuates inequality premised on homophobia.

Critics of gay adoption have advanced several counterarguments to challenge the idea of allowing same-sex couples to raise children. The most prominent concern is that families headed by homosexual parents lack the competence to raise children and protect their wellbeing (Gates 68). These arguments are predicated upon a dearth of research and inaccurate perception that LGBTQ parents cannot provide appropriate parenting compared to father-and-mother households (Di Battista et al. 16). Some critics attribute behavioral problems among children raised by same-sex couples to their parenting ability and the relationship between the child and the parents (Di Battista et al. 16).

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Individuals and organizations opposed to the idea of gay adoption assert that the traditional mother-and-father family arrangement is inherently fit for parenting (Averett et al. 130). They also claim that children raised by heterosexual parents perform better than their peers who are raised by homosexual guardians (Averett et al.132). Children who grow up with husband-and-wife couples benefit from distinct and complementary love and care from both mother and father. These assumptions explain why adoptive placements often prioritize traditional family arrangements, whenever possible. This argument might be sustained by the idea that biological parents and child welfare providers often opt for husband-wife couples when making adoptive placement decisions.

Methodological flaws might contribute to the perverse myth that heterosexual unions inherently provide better parenting than their same-sex counterparts. According to the American Psychological Association, there is no empirical evidence in scientific literature supporting such claims (2). Research findings confirming this hypothesis may be attributed to wrong comparison of outcomes of same-sex and different-sex couples. Conducting more appropriate comparisons might help address the flaws in the stereotypical claims. For example, variations arising from household types or the number of parents in a family should not be based entirely on parents’ sexual identity. Reliable evidence has shown that two parenting figures’ presence contributes to better outcomes rather than just one parent (Averett et al.132). In this respect, children living with homosexual parents are likely to report better psychological and behavioral health outcomes than their peers raised by heterosexual couples.

Moreover, opponents of gay adoptions argue that same-sex parenting contradicts the scripture. Particularly, some religious leaders and faith-based organizations believe that homosexuals and lesbians are “perverse and sinful” (Gale 1). Gay parents are seen as bad role models due to the fear of having a negative influence on the child’s identity, behavior, and overall development. They challenge gay adoption on religious grounds, claiming that it fundamentally counter to many people’s religious views. From the spiritual perspective, allowing LGBTQs to marry legally would offend cherished beliefs, besides undermining the vital role religious institutions play in marriage (Di Battista et al. 18).

In addition, antigay gay adoption activists, championed by faith-based organizations, are even pushing for laws and policies that grant child welfare agencies the discretion to determine whether they should work with same-sex prospective parents or not (Bewkes et al.). Such negative attitudes toward same-sex parenting threaten the intensified struggle for gay rights and the remarked achievements in this area.

Nonetheless, no substantial evidence has confirmed the biased perception of LGBTQ’s parenting ability. Existing empirical literature shows that same-sex parenting is a social and political issue with no scientific basis. Research has established no differences in child outcomes based on parents’ sexual orientation or identity (Averett et al.132). These insights challenge the biased notion that growing up in a family headed by homosexual parents can harm children’s gender identity and social gender role conformity (American Psychological Association 2). Moreover, empirical evidence has shown no variations in mental health outcomes and the overall wellbeing of adolescents and young adults who grew up with gay parents. All parents who wish to adopt a child, regardless of their sexual orientation, are responsible for and act in the best interest of minor’s health and wellbeing of the minor. Ultimately, LGBTQ communities should be given equal opportunity to adopt and raise children.

In conclusion, same-sex couples’ idea of adopting and raising children raises serious legal and moral issues. The controversy over allowing LGBTQ families to adopt children is centered largely on the misconception that homosexual unions are unable to provide appropriate parenting than their father-and-mother couples. However, drawing on reliable evidence documented in previous studies on this subject, the most logical argument would be to allow LGBTQ couples to adopt children because they are competent in parenting as their husband-and-wife unions. This conclusion may be sustained further by the fact that the primary purpose of adoption is to offer needy, at-risk, orphaned, and deprived children the best possible parents.

The main counterarguments to the idea of gay unions adopting children are ideological. Biological parents often opt for adoption for the good of their children. Unfortunately, some of these children fail to secure permanent homes due to bureaucratic procedures in the court and child welfare systems, emphasizing maintaining biological connections and family reunification. Therefore, adoption policy and practice should be informed by the child’s best interests rather than political or religious ideology.

Works Cited

American Psychological Association. “Gays and Lesbians Should Be Allowed to Adopt.” Are Adoption Policies Fair, edited by Christine Watkins. Gale, 2012, pp. 1-4.

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Averett, Paige, Blace Nalavany, and Scott Ryan. “An evaluation of gay/lesbian and heterosexual adoption.Adoption Quarterly, vol. 12, no. 3-4, 2009, pp. 129-151. Web.

Bewkes, Frank J., et al. “Welcoming all families: Discrimination against LGBTQ foster and adoptive parents hurts children.Center for American Progress. 2018. Web.

Bos, Henny M., et al. “Same-sex and different-sex parent households and child health outcomes: Findings from the National Survey of Children’s Health.” Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, vol. 37, no. 3, 2016, pp. 179. Web.

Di Battista, Silvia, Daniele Paolini, and Monica Pivetti. “Attitudes toward same-sex parents: Examining the antecedents of parenting ability evaluation.” Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 2020, pp. 1-19.

Gale. “Adoption.” Gale Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, edited by Christine Watkins, Gale, 2019, pp. 1-3.

Gates, Gary J. “Marriage and family: LGBT individuals and same-sex couples.The Future of Children, vol. 25, no. 2, 2015, pp. 67-87. Web.

McQueen, Allison L. “Michigan’s Religious Exemption for Faith-Based Adoption Agencies: State-Sanctioned Discrimination or Guardian of Religious Liberty.” Notre Dame Law Review, vol. 93, no. 2, 2018, pp. 895.

National Council for Adoption. “The Rights of Adopted Children Should Be Protected.” edited by Mary Williams. Greenhaven Press, 2006, pp.1-3.

US Department of Health and Human Services. “The AFCARS Report: Preliminary FY 2017 Estimates as of August.” Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau. 2018. Web.

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