The 31st October marked the beginning of National Adoption Week. Today, there are approximately 4,000 children in the UK waiting for adoption in the UK and 64,400 in care. For couples who consider adoption, the process which begins with a decision to adopt an infant and the child being brought into the family home can be a long and difficult period of between six and eighteen months. For same sex couples, due to the lack of national support, the ordeal is even greater. According to a National Poll commissioned by Barnados in January of this year, one in three British people do not think same sex people can perform the parental role as well as heterosexual couples. The reality is that although gay adoption has been legal throughout the UK since 2008, following the Equality Act, British society lacks universal agreement on the subject.
Today, only 25% of children who hope to be adopted will find adoption families. Barnados’ Chief Executive, Anne Marie Carrie described how the nation’s attitude was affecting the system.
“The poll not only highlights a disturbing and prevalent belief system, but also a deepening concern that children in the care system are continuing to lose out on potential parents. Society’s attitude plays a pivotal role in discouraging people from considering adoption. The idea that gay parents are second best must be challenged… To continue to discourage potential adopters simply because of their sexual orientation is severely diminishing the chances of securing loving, stable homes for the children who are waiting.”
Despite the high numbers of children seeking new homes, anti-gay adoption forums still disagree with the notion that same sex couples should be allowed to adopt. One online blogger, “danielm85948” expressed his strong views on the subject. “I think this life style is wrong, it should be only man and woman… they will think it is normal , so they will grow up gay…. I think the only reason the gays want children is to spread the gay lifestyle”. Opinions such as these seem disturbing considering that the Equality Act has been enforced throughout the UK for over three years now. Another writer who wrote anonymously spoke of a “strong link between homosexuality and paedophilia.” A study conducted by The National Resource Centre for Foster Care and Permanency Planning concluded that “90% of child abuse is committed by heterosexual men. In one study of 269 cases of child sexual abuse, only two offenders were gay or lesbian. Of the cases studied involving molestation of a boy by a man, 74% of the men were or had been in a heterosexual relationship with the boy’s mother or another female relative.” It is far more likely, therefore, that child molestation crimes are committed by heterosexuals as oppose to homosexuals.
“One in three British people do not think same sex people can perform the parental role as well as heterosexual couples.”
Further studies conducted by the American Psychological Association; provide scientific evidence against the fear of same sex couples “spreading the gay lifestyle”. Jackie Guyadin, a lesbian who hopes to adopt in the future recommended that I read “Development Psychology”, a credited scientific report available online. “The report concludes that homosexual families are a “diverse” group in the same way that heterosexual couples are not all the same. The sexuality of your parents has no influence on your sexuality. It’s been scientifically proven, isn’t that enough?” Jackie spoke of her wish for scientific reports such as this one to be more widely read. “If the public weren’t so uneducated about homosexual families, gay couples wouldn’t be plagued by such awful prejudice.”
Following the introduction of the Equality Law, the most prominent movement against it was the Catholic movement. For the owners of a number of Catholic-run children’s care homes, the idea of a same-sex couple bringing up a child contradicted biblical beliefs. The new rule resulted in resignations from several Catholics within the Adoption and Legal community. Andrew McClintock, a magistrate in Yorkshire was just one of the resignation cases. The judge, who had worked on the family panel for 15 years, resigned when his request to not have to deal with cases involving same-sex parents was turned down by the UK government. McClintock described a feeling shared by many of his fellow Christians which was that of being “pushed into a corner”.
Within the first year of same sex adoption being made legal nationwide, 170 children were adopted in the UK by same sex couples. As the adoption list never ceases to grow, organisations such as “New Family Social” and “Stonewall” aim to provide support for same sex couples looking into adoption.
Stonewall, a lesbian, bi-sexual and gay charity provides legal information for LGBT people while offering support and counselling for those who have to cope with hate-crime. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Stonewall, a string of nominations and awards were attributed to “heroes and heroines” in the LGBT community. The awards ceremonies also gave Stonewall a chance to attack those who the organisation believes to be preventing LGBT people from achieving their goals. One nominee for the “Bigot Award” was Dr Shirley Matthews, a 50 year-old Christian woman who lost her job with Northamptonshire, when she refused to recommend same-sex parents as parents due to her belief that the same-sex environment was not “the best, most healthy environment in which to raise children”. “Growing up with gay parents should be as normal as growing up with straight parents,” Jackie claims, “Single parents are not treated with such prejudice.”
It is however, not solely the LGBT group of people who are not accepted nationally as good adoptive parents. In January earlier on in the year, Social workers were attacked for taking too much consideration of race when pairing children in care with potential adoptive parents. Meanwhile, some Islamic cultures interpret the Koran to see the process of adoption as unholy in its own right. However, although Britain is a long way from banishing prejudice against LGBT couples completely, the UK in has certainly progressed in the last 100 or even 50 years with regards to sexuality acceptance. Today, celebrity same-sex couples such as Elton John and David Furnish are congratulated on starting a family by the majority of the National Media, while fifty years beforehand, this would never have been considered. The UK, at present, is one of only 14 countries worldwide who will allow gay adults to adopt children legally and begin their own families. When it is considered that less than 90 years ago electric shock therapy was recommended for anyone suspected of homosexual tendencies, the magnitude of this achievement is made clear.
There will probably never come a day when prejudice is removed from the UK’s adoption system. For the sake of the 4000 children who are currently waiting for a family in the UK today it should be hoped the wellbeing of the child is put above all other conditions of the adoption. Jackie, for one, seems adamant about this. “As long as the Gay person loves the child and puts its welfare above all other things, that should be all that is required.”