Monday, September 17, 2012

Should Same-Sex Couples Adopt?

Q - A friend does not understand why it would not be good for a homosexual couple to adopt children. Her reasoning is having two dads is better than no parents at all and is it so earth shattering - there are lots of disfunctional families that probably do more damage than simply the fact that the two parents are of the same gender. I am uncertain how to answer, can you help?

A - Thanks for the question. I know there are a lot of emotions and opinions on this matter, because my family has been heavily involved in adoptions, foster parenting, and social work for many years. My dad worked for the TX Health and  Human Services for many years and my sister and wife were/are social workers. Also, my parent's have fostered double-digit numbers of kids, my sister adopted a special-needs child, who was then adopted by my parents after she died.

I know what kind of problems and emotions surround this issue.
But, before I directly answer the question, I will remind everyone about paragraph 2358 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."
We are to love all our brothers and sisters. Each one of use, no matter our sexual compulsions and tendencies, is called to chastity - to rightly order our sexuality according to our nature and state of life. Furthermore, we are to be sensitive to the issue of same-sex attraction and treat everyone with respect and charity.

Now, the biggest thing we have to look at is this - what is best for the children?
We should not get distracted into a "rights" issue. Nobody has a "right" to adopt a child - rather it is a privilege and grave responsibility that one accepts. Also, the legal responsibility of the state is to protect the children's best interest, not further expand "rights" of those that are not the biological parents of children.

Therefore, the possible answers include:
  1. the adopted children will be better off in any kind of "family" (e.g. same-sex, opposite sex, etc), even if not perfect.
  2. the adopted children would be better off in a traditional family (married mother and father), even if not perfect.
  3. the adopted children would be better off in a perfect family or in state custody.
I think we can all agree that option #3 is not one to consider. So, we have 2 other options.

Either we allow the kids to get adopted into any kind of "family" situation, including same-sex couples' households or we limit the pool of adoptive families to stable, married, mother/father homes.

What does the evidence bear out? There are competing conclusions, but we can draw some conclusions, nonetheless.

First of all it seems the data supports the traditional family structure as the best place for children to be raised. This makes sense. Nature tells us that a child, which is created by a biological mother and a biological father, would flourish in a stable family with both a mom and dad. Each parent brings different gifts to the relationship that a same-sex couple cannot replicate. In other words, 2 moms or 2 dads can't replace what 1 mom and 1 dad can give the child. This is shown, even in gay-parenting advice manuals.

Research shows that same-sex couples are less stable, have higher rates of psychological problems, abuse, drug use, infidelity, etc.

Therefore, many studies have shown is that the data suggests the following - that children are best served in heterosexual hom because:
such homes are safe from the kinds of unique stresses and relatively more harmful level of adult psychological disorder inherent to households with a homosexual adult.
In other words, the children do better in a stable home with a mom and a dad.

But, this isn't the end of the story. Many studies, including the most recent by Dr. Mark Regenerus (which was printed in a peer-reviewed journal and showed showed same-sex parented homes are not as good for kids), have been attacked viciously, even though the data and study have been proven to be sound.

In other words, it is politically incorrect to even question whether it is better for kids to be in a same-sex couple home. This is intellectual dishonesty.

On the other side of the coin, there are several studies which seem to show that same-sex parents are just as good. But, Dr. Regenerus showed many flows in the methodology of these studies - as has Dr. George Rekers. Here is a paragraph from Dr. Regenerus' study:
Concern has arisen, however, about the methodological quality of many studies focusing on same-sex parents. In particular, most are based on non-random, non-representative data often employing small samples that do not allow for generalization to the larger population of gay and lesbian families ( [Nock, 2001], [Perrin and Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, 2002] and [Redding, 2008]). For instance, many published studies on the children of same-sex parents collect data from “snowball” or convenience samples (e.g., [Bos et al., 2007], [Brewaeys et al., 1997], [Fulcher et al., 2008], [Sirota, 2009] and [Vanfraussen et al., 2003]). One notable example of this is the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study, analyses of which were prominently featured in the media in 2011 (e.g., Huffington Post, 2011). The NLLFS employs a convenience sample, recruited entirely by self-selection from announcements posted “at lesbian events, in women’s bookstores, and in lesbian newspapers” in Boston, Washington, and San Francisco. While I do not wish to downplay the significance of such a longitudinal study—it is itself quite a feat—this sampling approach is a problem when the goal (or in this case, the practical result and conventional use of its findings) is to generalize to a population. All such samples are biased, often in unknown ways. As a formal sampling method, “snowball sampling is known to have some serious problems,” one expert asserts (Snijders, 1992, p. 59). Indeed, such samples are likely biased toward “inclusion of those who have many interrelationships with, or are coupled to, a large number of other individuals” (Berg, 1988, p. 531). But apart from the knowledge of individuals’ inclusion probability, unbiased estimation is not possible.
In other words, the data can't be trusted, but is used as rock-solid evidence to support same-sex families anyway. This doesn't even point out the researcher bias inherent in some studies and how laws play a part in all of it.

In no way am I arguing that a person (or couple) who has a same-sex attraction is incapable of loving and raising a child. My point is merely that it isn't the best environment for them.

The mentality that we need to be inclusive and okay with the "anything is fine with me" attitude isn't helping kids. That is the point. Children's interests are not best served when we ignore the facts.

No child is a lab upon which we should perform social experiments.

Finally, we know that the family is the place where culture either builds or falls. If the family structure is intact and healthy, on the whole - the culture will flourish. But, if it is constantly attacked, re-defined, and trivialized - it will fall.

The state has an interest in upholding whether or not the traditional family is supported, because we are all better for it. Therefore, the Catholic Church teaches that same-sex couples should not adopt - for the sake of the children, families, and ultimately, for the sake of our culture.

This is the same for any non-married, cohabiting couple. The Catholic Church would not support their adoption of a child either.

The only rights being violated are those of the children. They have a right to a stable home and a mother and father, when possible. Intentionally depriving a child or a mother or father is not just.

Here is what the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith wrote about this topic:
"As experience has shown, the absence of sexual complementarity in these unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons. They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood. Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case."
I hope this helps.

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