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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Paper

I posted a couple days ago about the paper on adoption by homosexual parents that I wrote for my Research Writing class. Posting the entire paper here is cumbersome, but I believe that the topic is both important and um... well... topical, so here goes. I feel very strongly about equal rights for the GLBT community, and I don't get political on this blog all that often, so if it offends you, please skip it and come back tomorrow when I talk about cute things my kids say / gaming / the weather.

Please note: I've removed the title page at the request of the school, but other than that and the references page (which is more accurate now) I haven't edited this from the one I turned in (so you get to see all my mistakes in punctuation and formatting (and apparently those that didn't copy-and-paste well) - isn't that fun?).

Gay Marriage and Adoption – Should Homosexual Couples be Allowed to Adopt?
Although some think it is unnatural, gay adoption should be encouraged because children need families, and for some it is the only way of having one. The usual argument against this is out of fear for the child’s safety, because some people believe that a) homosexuality is a choice, and b) that it is equal to pedophilia. In Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech, which says in part, “...not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” (King, 1963), he posits that people should be judged by their actions, not by things that are not under their control, such as skin color… or sexual orientation.
The Need for Children to Have a Family
Children need families. Institutional care is better than no care at all of course, but in general, children need families. However, the makeup of those families – whether they have two parents of opposite genders, for instance – is of less importance (“Evaluation,” (2009), p.142). The most important factor in how children mature is how involved with the child the parent is, which is also why institutional settings are less efficacious to bringing up children; there are fewer adults available per child.
The adoptive children of homosexual parents show approximately the same degree and incidence of behavioral problems as those of heterosexual parents; that is, more behavioral problems as a group than biological children of married couples, but no more than other adopted children. (“Evaluation”, 2009). Homosexual parents tend to have a higher degree of education than the heterosexual ones, and were more likely to adopt children of their own racial makeup. Some of this was probably due to restrictions on homosexual couples adopting in international adoption situations. Children who are medically fragile or who suffer from prenatally induced issues such as fetal alcohol syndrome often need placement, as do children who were abused in any way as infants or young children, whether physically, emotionally, or sexually.
These children – those who are ill, abused, or neglected – often need more one-on-one attention than “normal” children, sometimes of a medical nature, sometimes of a social or emotional nature, and sometimes both. This applies even to biological children who are abused or medically fragile as well; such requirements as medical care, and occupational or educational or psychological therapy can be expensive in terms of money and intensive in terms of time spent. These are also the children least likely to thrive in an institutional situation; that hands-on one-on-one approach cannot as easily be accomplished in such an environment.
The Need for Adults to Have a Family
Many homosexuals cannot have a family in any way but adoption; either they are not physically capable of performing with the opposite sex, or cannot come to an agreement with a compatible partner in the act of producing a child. Some can achieve parenthood through other means, such as artificial insemination of a surrogate for gay males, or some sort of legal agreement between a homosexual male couple and a lesbian couple, usually using artificial insemination.
These methods are of course simpler in jurisdictions with legal recognition of “gay marriage” or even civil unions than in those without such legal recourses; the processes for things like custody and visitation are more like standard divorce agreements than in those areas where it is all done by legal contract not connected to marriage. That said, all the various laws and contracts vary from state to state and even county to county, so care must be taken to cover all the legal bases. Also, custody laws take time to rewrite even after marriage laws are written (or rewritten) and with the vigorous debate surrounding the idea of gay marriage, there are often appeals to new laws and the like to contend with before custody laws can even be touched upon. (Children of lesbian and gay parents. (2009). p. 728). In Washington State, for instance, laws have been recently enacted to allow gay marriage, and before the end of the week in which those laws were signed there were already appeals to the laws on “marriage is between one man and one woman” grounds. These issues have to be resolved before adoption and custody even enter into the equation.
Additionally, with over seven billion people on the planet, and a wide variety of homosexual couples ready to be parents through the medium of adoption, why add to the population rather than allowing these couples to adopt? Some people feel that homosexuality equals pedophilia and that therefore these children are placed in danger by prospective adoptive parents, working on the erroneous assumption that every homosexual prospective parent is also a pedophile, grooming their adoptive children to become easy-access victims of their “unnatural behavior”. No creditable research suggests this link – in fact it suggests that homosexuality and a pedophilic attraction to a child of the same sex are often mutually exclusive; in pedophilia the age and pre-pubescence of the child is the attraction, rather than the gender. The arguments that homosexuality and pedophilia are linked are generally on religious or moral grounds; as such, these may be understandable fears, but they are not a logical concern.
There are those who says that there are plenty of “normal” (i.e. heterosexual, married) couples available to adopt children, and there are. But there is more to parental fitness than sexuality and marital status. Adoption agencies often have very tight restrictions on who is allowed to adopt – some of these are sexuality or marital status, but sometimes age, health, financial status, and even – sadly – race come into the equation. While homosexuals are not the only group left out due to circumstances out of their control, they are the only people who as a group have no other options. There are a few examples of people in other groups, such as socio-economic status, who cannot adopt simply because of cost, but as a group attitudes are more discriminatory toward homosexuals and single parents than to the other group.
There is no evidence to support that children placed with gay or lesbian parents suffer any unusual consequences compared to children adopted by heterosexual parents. Again, many of the counterarguments assume – usually on moral or religious grounds – that homosexuality is a deviant practice rather than an inherent state of being, that homosexuality is a learned behavior, and that children of homosexuals are either a) in danger from their parents as in the paragraph above, or b) being “trained” to become homosexual. And again, the research suggests precisely the opposite.
While there is evidence of situational homosexuality, this is almost always in an institutional setting such as a prison or a boarding school, rather than in a family setting. This is typically a case of having no other available outlet for sexual urges, rather than a tendency for homosexuals to “train” others or to groom them as sexual abuse victims. Since family groups in American society have built-in taboos regarding sexual behavior, such behavior is far less prevalent in adoptive families than in these institutional situations. In fact, although no evidence was easily available one way or the other, it follows logically that given the higher incidence of “learned homosexuality” in institutional settings such as boarding schools or prisons, these children would be safer in a family setting – with homosexual parents or otherwise.
Sexual preference is an intrinsic part of one’s physical being; again, some have religious or moral objections to homosexual behavior (or simple distaste of anything outside their own cultural norms), but there is very little logical argument against it. It is a matter of biology. Whether one chooses to act on one’s sexuality is the only choice involved, else why would anyone choose to be part of a hated and despised group?
Children of homosexual parents are no more likely than other children to identify as homosexual, according to research (“Evaluation.” (2009). p. 135). However, it could be that homosexual parents, having “been there” so to speak, are more likely than many heterosexual parents to be supportive and accepting of homosexuality in a child, and also that the child is more likely to feel comfortable sharing his or her concerns regarding sexuality – such as “coming out of the closet” –  to a parent who has shown openness and acceptance. This is not to say that heterosexual parents are not supportive or accepting, because many are, but that people who have been through any given situation are more likely in general to be supportive of people in that same situation.
There are countless examples in the world all around that homosexuals have the same parenting skills and talents (and faults) as any other adult human being. They are doctors, soldiers, lawyers, line cooks, retail clerks, artists, software programmers, engineers, musicians, taxpayers, and most importantly people… just like everyone else. Defining them solely by whether they sleep with people with the same sexual equipment as they have – this does everyone a disservice – parents, children, teachers, world leaders. Would the world judge a heterosexual white married lady as a bad parent simply because of her straight status? No. So why does the world judge a gay white married lady as a bad parent simply because her spouse is also a woman?
Should homosexuals be allowed to marry and raise children? Of course they should. It’s a human right, not a heterosexual right. During the Proposition 8 controversy in California, the Reverend Al Sharpton said, "Unless you are prepared to say gays and lesbians are not human beings, they should have the same constitutional right of any other human being." (Sharpton, 2008). If we are prepared to say that homosexuals are less than human, we have bigger problems as a society than who is adopting children.
 Averett, P., Nalavany, B., & Ryan, S. (2009). An evaluation of gay/lesbian and heterosexual adoption. Adoption Quarterly, (12)3-4, 129-151. doi: 10.1080/10926750903313278 Lavely, V. A. (2007). The path to recognition of same-sex marriage: Reconciling the inconsistencies between marriage and adoption cases. UCLA Law Review, 55(1), 247-291. 
Patterson, C. J. (2009). Children of lesbian and gay parents: Psychology, law and policy. American Psychologist, 64(8), 777-736. 

The University for which I wrote this uses a plagiarism checker that crawls the Internet, so if any student at University of Phoenix finds it good enough to use in their own paper, well... thanks for the compliment. And don't. Just don't... it'll get you in big big trouble.