Adopting Equality

The first week of November was National Adoption Week, but adopting for same-sex couples is still tainted with prejudice

Photo Credit: jessebucksc

Photo Credit: jessebucksc

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.”

10 comments

  1. 8 Nov ’11 at 10:54 pm

    Open, Undecided, Sceptic

    It is interesting to hear of research indicating that ‘the sexuality of your parents has no influence on your sexuality’. The only other research I have heard of advocates evidence to the contrary.

    It is also interesting to hear of ‘the children who are waiting’. In my limited experience of talking to adoption candidates, I have only heard of the parents who are waiting. This is probably due to extensive (and probably necessary) bureaucracy, paper work and red tape.

    Obviously, homosexual people should have equal rights. But should they have the right to a family (their own or otherwise?)? Given the lifestyle they have chosen. Does the state have an obligation to provide (a costly) IVF to a lesbian couple or to give them a child to adopt? If one chooses to castrate oneself (maybe they have a love of singing!) as a lifestyle choice, do they still have the right to a family? Are equal rights the same as identical rights? Or can actions and decisions change your rights? Homosexuals would not have a family naturally. Therefore, by definition, it is unnatural, for them to do so. There seems to be some fallacy or missing link here, even if I haven’t quite found it!

    Moreover, does having the two people in your life (your parents), who are going to have some of the biggest influences in your life, being of the same sex, make you less aware and knowledgeable of the other sex, or even heterosexual relationships? Maybe it doesn’t, as here suggested, but I’m not convinced.

    If, as is suggested, the fact that parents are gay has no negative parenting impacts then there is NO REASON to deny homosexual couples adoption. However, I would argue this does not equate to the right to children or adoption.

    To me (and maybe I’m wrong) it seems the gay community has responded to the awful and unending prejudice against them by saying not only that homosexuals and homosexual relationships are equal to their heterosexual counterparts, but that due to the fact that they want to be treated as equal, they end up actually claiming to be THE SAME THING. They are equal, but nevertheless different.

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  2. How many times must it be drummed into the thick skulls of people like you that homosexuality is not a ‘lifestyle choice.’

    It is a sexuality.

    Did you choose your sexuality? If you are sexually attracted to one gender, is it a meaningful decision for you to be able to ‘choose’ to date someone of the same gender? Theoretically, you do have that choice. But your sexuality means that there is only one ‘choice’ for you.

    So, do you consider heterosexuality a lifestyle choice? Or just homosexuality?

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  3. @Open, Undecided, Sceptic:
    An infertile heterosexual couple would not have children naturally, a child adopted by heterosexual people is not their natural offspring, farming animals is not natural, wearing clothes is not natural, living in a house is not natural; ‘natural’ is not a matter of right or wrong. Such a moralistic stance is infantile and deeply ill-considered. If you wish to argue that a homosexual couple adopting is immoral because they cannot naturally conceive, I propose that you move out of your accommodation, burn your possessions and revert to hunter-gathering.

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  4. Although allowing gay couples to adopt would be helpful for the children and seems to be morally required, why not impose serious limits on IVF availability (for all couples, gay or straight) whilst so many kids are available for adoption?

    Why do people spend so much time and money on IVF? It seems to me that it is simply a case of genetic privileging, or a selfish egotistical desire to see lots of ‘little mes’ running around. But why should it matter if the child you take care of is genetically related to you or not?

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  5. “It is interesting to hear of research indicating that ‘the sexuality of your parents has no influence on your sexuality’. The only other research I have heard of advocates evidence to the contrary.”

    That must be why straight parents only ever raise straight children.

    This disgusting and false attempt at logic was used by Anita Bryant and John Briggs in California in the seventies to attempt to have all homosexuals and homosexual sympathisers in public schools fired to prevent them “recruiting” children, because in the words of Briggs’ portrayal in the film Milk, “gay people don’t have any children of their own, and if they don’t recruit our children, they’d all just die away”.

    Just one of your ridiculous points, another of which is addressed finely by CH, above.

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  6. 16 Nov ’11 at 5:04 pm

    Open, Undecided, Sceptic

    @Gillian Love
    Yes, your right, it is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ to be heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual. And ‘lifestyle’ may have been unwise wording. But acting on feelings is definitely a choice, maybe a ‘lifestyle choice’. If you act on the feeling of wanting cake, you must accept the calories and consequences on the scales! If you act on the feeling of wanting to murder someone, you must accept a prison sentence. If you act on the feelings of homosexuality, do you still have a natural, inalienable, right to have children, your own or otherwise? Similarly, if you choose to be single?

    @Ch
    You misunderstand. I was not expressing a moral right or wrong conclusion from natural tendencies. You have read something that isn’t there. I was merely approaching the question of natural rights… if you think they exist anyway…

    @Greg Ebdon
    I was not making a ‘point’ there, or even using ‘logic’. It was a comment on research I have heard of. A conclusion based on research is a matter of finding correlation and relationships, not using logical arguments… that is the job of philosophers.

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  7. ‘I was not making a ‘point’ there, or even using ‘logic’.’

    You said it.

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  8. 28 Nov ’11 at 9:51 pm

    Open, Undecided, Sceptic

    So you resent that a comment was made… in the comments section???

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  9. were is the rights, of the children,to grow up,and have there on children,as a mother and father,not father and father, and mother and mother,do the children’s rights ,not come first,they have a right to family life,under human rights law,and every one has a right to opinion ,under human rights law,the rights of this small group of people,being gay is there right,to say so,less than 5% of the country,so 95% of people have there rights removed, as it may hurt the feelings of 5% of the people.

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  10. @danielm85948: that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Yes, the child comes first, but if a gay couple can provide a loving and nurturing environment in which they can raise a child, they have every right to do so.

    And what on earth do you mean by 95% of people have their rights removed? Who suggested letting ONLY homosexuals adopt?! Heterosexuals can still adopt children at the same time as homosexuals, so you’ve just made a very stupid statement there.

    And for the love of God, don’t use so many commas if you respond! My eyes bleed just seeing the amount of commas in your post!

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