Friday, March 24, 2006

In the best interest of children

I'm not a huge fan of Ellen Goodman, but I liked her editorial today on gay adoption. It comes at a good time, not only because of national headlines like the Vatican calling gay adoptions "gravely immoral" or the Catholic Bishops in Massachusetts ending the Catholic Church's role in adoptions in that state. Here in Arizona, the state legislature is working on a bill that would give priority to married couples over singles. The fine print, of course, is that "singles" includes gay couples because they cannot be legally married.

I like the personal aspect of Goodman's column: she has a toddler cousin, Ruthie, who is being raised by two daddies. It's a lot harder to castigate gay people in general as "immoral" and "bad parents" when you know people personally who contradict that.

Ruthie is why I take it personally when the Vatican calls gay adoptions "gravely immoral" or says that such adoptions "mean doing violence to these children." Ruthie is why I grimace when Russell Johnson, chairman of the Ohio Restoration Project, says, "experimenting on children through gay adoption is a problem." Ruthie and her parents are not an experiment. They are a family. Part of my family.

I also like that she mentions that studies support her position.

A comprehensive review of [studies] coming out next week from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute shows again that children of gay parents do fine.

I read a lot from groups like The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) and others on the far right that "gay parenting is an untested social experiment" or that "studies show children do better in a home with one mother and one father." Neither is true. No studies say that children do better with one mother and one father than with two same-sex parents. No studies show that children are harmed in any way when raised by gay parents. On the contrary, almost every major health and non-sectarian child welfare organization including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the Child Welfare League of America, all agree that a parent's sexual orientation is irrelevant to the welfare of the child. On the other hand, whenever CAP tries to back up its claims about the unsuitability of gay parents, they cite a study that has been discredited by researchers and that was the product of someone who has been censured by both the American Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association.

What I like best about Goodman's editorial, however, is how she sums up what makes a good parent:

We all talk about "the best interest of the child." What makes up that interest? On my list are attention, love, security, humor and a besotted family racing to keep one step ahead of a toddler. Of course, a little bias on that child's behalf never hurts.

Gay parents, like straight parents, can have these in abundance. So can single parents, by the way. Or any of these can fall short as parents. Either way, parenting skills have nothing to do with sexual orientation so sexual orientation shouldn't be relevant when placing a child for adoption. Period.


At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Conservative" politicians are the ones trying out untested social experiments. Gay folks have a long history of being foster and adoptive parents, and this will continue to be so, because child services workers will still place children where they need to be, regardless of the vanity of politicians. There is absolutely no scientific basis for discriminating against a large swath of society in the way that these politicians propose to do.

It's all just a quixotic quest to return hundreds of thousands of people to the closet, a completely myopic and mean-spirited one. --adam

At 3:45 PM, Blogger Conrad said...

Maybe we should prevent homophobia by banning straight adoption.

There was the Ohio legislator that proposed a bill that would ban Republicans from adopting.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Conrad said...

Of course I was toughe in cheek on that last post.

Anyone that doesn't think same-sex couples can take good care of children should see the couple at the United Methodist Church I attend that take such marvelous care of their children.

If you sant to see a picture of them with one of their children thay are pictured on the home page of Quapaw Quarter United Methodist at

At 4:05 PM, Blogger Bad Methodist said...

Oh, that little girl in her Easter hat is too precious!!!!

At 7:54 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Good post even if I cannot completely agree with the concept of gay adoption. I admit I struggle with the it, though, because I also know some gay persons on personal level, and it is impossible to see them as inherently evil. As a pro-life preacher, I also see adoption as the only viable alternative yet it saddens me that there are not more married couples willing to take a child into their homes. I struggle with this last part personally because I think the Lord will not leave me alone about it, but my wife does not seem so willing to seriously consider it.

So if we cannot, or will not, take children into our homes and we lament about children who have no home to call their own, who else is left?

You've given me a great deal to think about. And incidentally, I also believe the world to be typical of its own inherent nature because of the existence of Fred Phelps and his "congregation" (primarily made up of his own family. Did you know this?). And I remember Matthew Shepherd often in prayer and in sermon.


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