Whenever there is a debate on the rights of the gay individuals in America, there is no shortage of arguments on both sides of the issue. Gay rights have emerged as controversial social issues because they challenge some of the longest-standing traditions and customs of the society and one such issue is the right of gay couples to adopt. The arguments on the issue are shaped by a diverse range of factors such as one’s personal experiences, religious beliefs, degree of adherence to tradition, and ethical/moral values. There are both advantages and disadvantages to allowing gay couples to adopt but a closer scrutiny of the issue may reveal that the benefits of adoption by gay couples to the society exceed the potential costs.
One of the major benefits of allowing adoption by gay couples is that it will help the society address the issue of shortage of skilled and dedicated foster parents. The seriousness of the issue of shortage of foster parents is evident by the fact that there were 523,000 youths waiting to be adopted as of September 30, 2003. The problem is even made worse by the fact that many foster parents soon give up because they are often asked to shoulder responsibilities for more children that they can handle. Thus, allowing gay couples to adopt is a reliable solution to easing the pressure on the foster care system, especially since gay individuals demonstrate higher than average interest and willingness to adopt. Even studies have shown that gay individuals provide as high quality care to their children as heterosexual parents and even their children are as likely to succeed as those of heterosexual parents (Downs and James).
Another benefit of allowing gay couples to adopt is that it will ensure more children grow up in loving environment. This will increase the probability of them building a bright future for themselves rather than engaging in a life of crime. In this regard, Britain offers a great example of how children who grow up without families are more likely to end up as criminals. Children who grow up in care in Britain account for only 0.5 percent of Britain population yet they make up for about a quarter of the adult population in prison. Of those who leave care, just one percent are able to make it to the university (Hjul).
One of the disadvantages of allowing gay couples to adopt is that children do not have role models from both sexes. This is especially a disadvantage when both of the parents are women. Boys who grow up without fathers tend to underachieve. Many schools have fewer male teachers which puts children without fathers at even greater disadvantage (The Week (UK)). Men and women influence children in different manners, thus, children who grow up without a father or mother are deprived of some of the benefits enjoyed by children of heterosexual parents.
Adoption by gay couples may make things difficult for faith-based non-profit organizations. Allowing adoption by gay couples would deprive the society of some of the valuable services provided by faith-based non-profit organizations who may decide to terminate services rather than run afoul of the law in an attempt to stay loyal to their faith principles. An example is Catholic Charities of Boston which for years had provided adoption services to the community. The organization announced in 2006 that it will be terminating adoption services rather than complying with a state law that prohibits discrimination against gay couples in matters of adoption (Filteau). Gay parenting doesn’t only violate the moral principles of Christianity but a majority of other religions, too including Islam and Judaism. Thus, issues like adoption by gay couples that tend to violate long-held traditions make things difficult for faith-based organizations who account for a significant proportion of non-profit organizations serving the society.
It is important to acknowledge that there may be truth to arguments on both sides of the issue. The society is in need of more dedicated foster parents and one’s ability to be a parent should not be judged by his/her sexuality but by parenting skills. If research shows that gay couples can be almost as good parents as heterosexual couples, there is little reason to not allow them to adopt. One should also realize that childhood experiences have a major impact on one’s future and children who grow up in a stable environment are more likely to succeed because they are provided with guidance and adequate resources necessary for healthy growth. Statistics show that children brought up in care are more likely to end up in a life of crime, thus, allowing gay couples to adopt will be a huge service to many children who may otherwise end up living the life of crime. But at the same time, men and women tend to have different personalities and often play different roles. As a result, children of gay couples do miss out on some of the benefits enjoyed by children of heterosexual couples. Similarly, freedom of religion is one of the basic rights in democracies like the U.S. and one cannot overstate the importance of faith-based non-profit organizations who provide a diverse range of valuable services. Allowing adoption by gay couples may increase the number of children brought up in care than reduce it in certain regions if faith-based organizations terminate adoption services rather than run afoul of the law. As far as my personal opinion is concerned, I support adoption by gay couples. I understand doing so may violate traditional beliefs but society often has to challenge old notions in order to progress socially. I also believe it will promote the interests of children in care system and the interests of our children should come before anything.
These articles have taught me that position on the issue is influenced by a wide variety of factors including religious background and personal experiences. I have also learnt that studies are finally challenging old and outdated notions that gay couples cannot be good parents. In addition, I have learnt that more and more states are allowing adoption by gay couples.
- Downs, Chris and , Steven E. James. “Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Foster Parents: Strengths and Challenges for the Child Welfare System.” Child Welfare League of America March/April 2006: 281-298.
- Filteau, Jerry. Catholic Charities in Boston Archdiocese to end adoption services. 13 March 2006. 23 April 2014 http://www.catholicnews.com
- Hjul, Jenny. Comment: Jenny Hjul: Why gay adoptions will help children. 10 December 2006. 23 April 2014 http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk
- The Week (UK). Pros and cons of gay adoption. 23 April 2014 http://www.theweek.co.uk