Same sex adoption: Do I qualify?

“”
Artemis PattichiENG 1000c
Research Paper 12/17/03
In recent years, the gay adoption issue has taken big dimensions.Ever
since the public acknowledged that Rosie O’Donnel is a gay mother. This has
caused many states to debate the legality of the issue, and has created a
public debate on the ethics of it.

In trying to understand the issues at hart, I researched it from a unique
point of view. I interviewed 3 gay couples at different stages of adoption.

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These are their stories.

The first couple we will meet are two women, who have successfully adopted
two children. They actually adopted these children (now aged 10 and 12)
before they met or had a relationship.Each one underwent lengthy
procedures with the state adoption agency to get approved as single
mothers.


“The state examines not only you’re ability to raise the child” says
Nathalie “but also asks rather impersonal questions. I was asked if I was
homosexual, I was asked if I had ever had homosexual relations, I was asked
if I had any sexual attraction to younger children etc”. I asked her how
she handled these questions, and she replied “at first, I did not know
what to do. I left the questions blank, and went on to the more important
elements, employment, money etc. About a week later, I got a call from the
adoption agency asking me why I had not completed all the questions on the
form. “They told me that if I do not complete all the questions that my
application would be summarily rejected”.


“I sat there, thought about it, long and hard. I wanted to adopt a child, I
wanted to raise a child and have a family. What could I do? I was going to
get rejected … so I decided that having a child was more important to me
that some form, and so I merrily went to the adoption agency, lied through
my teeth on the form, made myself sound like Ms. America, and got accepted
for the program.”
“I do feel ashamed of having lied. I find that I am one of the most honest
people around. I could not give up my chance to become a mother for a small
white lie” she ends off.

Melanie had a much easier time, because in her case, no one asked any
personal questions. “I had a good adoption lawyer. There is a high demand
in the south for good parents, and I qualified for the program. I was never
asked about my sexual orientation, I was just asked forfinancial
information. Maybe the lawyer did something, I don’t know, butmy
experience was a lot simpler and less stressful than Nathalie’s.

I asked both why they chose to go through this process as opposed to
another child process of for example artificial insemination. Melanie
replied by saying: “Although it probably would have been simpler to do
that, my reasoning was that there are so many orphans and abandoned
children in America today, who deserve the chance to have a good home and a
good family, and to grow up with people who care about them. To me, a child
is a child, and all children deserve to be taken care of. I did not think
of my personal convenience”
I then asked the couple to tell us if it was difficult for the children to
have a gay parent. Nathalie, who has the oldest of the two replies: “You
know, these days, these kids know a lot more about ‘the birds and the bees’
than we did at their age. I know that my son, at age 10, came and asked me
straight out, mommy are you gay. I was expecting that question much later
in life. And I remember looking at him, and saying ‘yes, Justin, I am’.

For a split second, I did not know what else to say, or how he would react.

So then my son said ‘That’s great!!!’ I was flabbergasted, and asked him
why. He said ‘because my friend Tommy’s daddy is gay too, so I can join
Tommy’s club”. Alas, outwitted by two 10 year olds. Obviously, he did not
understand exactly what being gay is or means, but as he got older, he
understood more and more”.

The next question asked was “what sexual orientation would you like your
children to have – would you want them to be gay, or would it bother you if
they were straight. Melanie interjected and said “we know, like most gay
people know, like most doctors know, that homosexuality is something you’re
born with. We want our children, both our children to be happy and healthy
and to be true to themselves. Being a gay parent does not put you in a
reverse situation, in that as gay parents we want our kids to be gay, and
if they are per-say straight, then we would not tell them ‘being straight
is not good’. As homosexuals, we both had to undergo a period of adjusting
and accepting our sexual orientation, therefore, we don’t want our children
to have to go through that. Whether gay or straight or bisexual for that
matter, it’s fine by us, as long as our children are comfortable with their
sexual orientation. We do not want to face a reverse discrimination
situation.


I also spoke with a male gay couple, Paul and Jack.Paul has adopted a
child using much the same tactics.

“When I started the adoption process, I knew that they would never allow a
gay couple to adopt. In fact I spent years and years contemplating whether
or not I should even bother applying. Finally, I drew up enough courage to
go and launch an application. I filled out the questionnaire in much the
same way most gay men do… I lied! Then I got to a part of the form where
it required a woman. It read ‘single mothers or married couples only’.I
was stuck! What to do? So I put down Jackie. When I came home, and I
told Jack, he was furious. ‘What do you expect me to get dressed in drag
to go for the interview? Where are we going to come up with a Jackie?’The
application process went pretty far, and we avoided the whole ‘Jackie’
thing, then one day I got a call saying that we were approved for adoption,
and that Jackie and I had to BOTH show up to meet the child.I was
absolutely thrilled and terrified all at the same time. What to do?I
called my friend Helen who was at the time acting off-Broadway, and asked
her to… play a part for me. She agreed, reluctantly, and off we went.I
was praying that they would not ask ‘Jackie’ for identification, but the
councillor probably saw right through us, and just let us sign the papers
and take Tommy home. For the first three years, Helen played out the role
of ‘Jackie’ for the social worker. One day, out of the blue, I got a ‘my
condolences’ card in the mail.It was from theadoptionagency.

Apparently, there was someone named Jackie Jameson, married to a Paul with
a son named Tommy who died in a car accident on the Brooklyn bridge.They
assumed that this was …’my Jackie’. So, I played along with that.Now,
after five years that Tommy has been with me, and the adoption finalized,
we are no longer being supervised by social services, and Helen can go back
to being … Helen – I guess perhaps my prayers were answered.”
That having been said, though, not all adoption cases turn out to be
‘happily ever after’. Some are much simpler than that. As it is very common
for straight couples to go to foreign countries (mainly former communist
countries) to adopt orphans from those countries and bring them to America,
this is also a common practice for gay couples.

John and Jason went to Bosnia-Herzegovina, a year after the end of the war
in Yugoslavia. John recounts the story “when we arrived at the orphanage,
the conditions were deplorable. There were 10 little boys sharing an old
broken down bed, and those were the ones that actually had a bed. The place
was filthy. We were told that most of these children were abandoned by
their mother’s who were raped during the war. The orphanage we went to was
equipped for 100 children, there were over 600.The director gave us a
tour, and asked us (smile) how many did we want. In many ways, he sounded
like a salesman, trying to sell us something. We told him we were looking
to adopt one child, boy or girl, and that we would take the child to
America. He looked at me and said “but all the children want to go to
America, can’t you take three or four with you, and put them up for
adoption?’What this man was saying was unbelievable.As we were
speaking, there were these two boys, chasing this other boy who had found
an apple core. They literally mobbed him for this apple core.The little
boy ran to us and hid behind me. I picked him up, and put him in my arms,
and he looked at me and said something in Serbian. I did not understand,
and the director told me he had said “you’re my hero”. This is how we met
Vlad, and, about an hour later, we walked out of the orphanage, Jason, Vlad
and I, official papers and documents in hand, all signed and sealed. We
took him to our hotel, gave him a bath, something he had never seen before
in his life, and while Jason gave him dinner, I went out and bought him
some clothes. The next day, we took a train from Sarajevo to Belgrade to
visit the American Embassy. They immediately added him to my passport as a
child traveling with parent, and with this, we were able to bring Vlad back
to the United States.”
Jason adds: “Vlad is now 9 years old, he has learned English, goes to
school, gets straight A’s, plays little-league baseball, and is an all
around happy American kid. He is no different than other kids. Of course,
we expect to get ‘the question’ at some point, but we’re ready for it.

After all, we’re not the only gay parents on the block. There are several
other gay-families living in proximity, so the whole ‘two-daddy’ concept is
not only Vlad that has to deal with it, it’s several children”
We asked them if they would adopt another child, if they feel that Vlad
would want or would like to have a sibling.”Of course, we’ve thought
about this, and in fact we’re thinking of visiting Bosnia next summer so
that Vlad will see his native country, but also to see if the adoption
procedures are still as easy as they were a few years ago.We are taking
different factors into consideration, financial situation etc.”
Here we see three different examples of different circumstances surrounding
the adoption of a child by a gay couple. In each case, the whole process
was not at all straightforward.

Recently, there are more and more resources available to gay couples
through community organisations, through associations even via the state,
to be able to facilitate the adoption of children. There are still states,
Florida amongst them, that still have laws in place to prevent gay people
from adopting.

The American Civil Liberties Union has issued a document, clearing up myth
from fact. This document is used on a daily basis by people fighting for
the right of gay couples to adopt children. Here is an excerpt of this
document:
“Myths vs. Facts
Myth: The only acceptable home for a child is one with a mother and
father who are married to each other.

Fact: Children without homes do not have the option of choosing
between a married mother and father or some other type of
parent(s). These children have neither a mother nor a father,
married or unmarried. There simply are not enough married mothers
and fathers who are interested in adoption and foster care. Last
year only 20,000 of the 100,000 foster children in need of adoption
were adopted, including children adopted by single people as well
as married couples. Our adoption and foster care policies must deal
with reality, or these children will never have stable and loving
homes.

Myth: Children need a mother and a father to have proper male and
female role models.

Fact: Children without homes have neither a mother nor a father as
role models. And children get their role models from many places
besides their parents. These include grandparents, aunts and
uncles, teachers, friends, and neighbors. In acase-by-case
evaluation, trained professionals can ensure that the child to be
adopted or placed in foster care is moving into an environment with
adequate role models of all types.

Myth: Gays and lesbians don’t have stable relationships and don’t
know how to be good parents.

Fact: Like other adults in this country, the majority of lesbians
and gay men are in stable committed relationships.7 Of course some
of these relationships have problems, as do some heterosexual
relationships. The adoption and foster care screening process is
very rigorous, including extensive home visits and interviews of
prospective parents. It is designed to screen out those individuals
who are not qualified to adopt or be foster parents, for whatever
reason. All of the evidence shows that lesbians and gay men can and
do make good parents. The American Psychological Association, in a
recent report reviewing the research, observed that “not a single
study has found children of gay or lesbian parents tobe
disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of
heterosexual parents,” and concluded that “homeenvironments
provided by gay and lesbian parents are as likely as those provided
by heterosexual parents tosupportandenablechildren’s
psychosocial growth.”8 That is why the Child Welfare League of
America, the nation’s oldest children’s advocacy organization, and
the North American Council on Adoptable Children say that gays and
lesbians seeking to adopt should be evaluated just like other
adoptive applicants.

Myth: Children raised by gay or lesbian parents are more likely to
grow up gay themselves.

Fact: All of the available evidence demonstrates that the sexual
orientation of parents has no impact on the sexual orientation of
their children and that children of lesbian and gay parents are no
more likely than any other child to grow up to be gay.9 There is
some evidence that children of gays and lesbians are more tolerant
of diversity, but this is certainly not a disadvantage. Of course,
some children of lesbians and gay men will grow up to be gay, as
will some children of heterosexual parents. These children will
have the added advantage of being raised by parents who are
supportive and accepting in a world that can sometimes be hostile.

Myth: Children who are raised by lesbian or gay parents will be
subjected to harassment and will be rejected by their peers.

Fact: Children make fun of other children for all kinds of reasons:
for being too short or too tall, for being too thin or too fat, for
being of a different race or religion or speaking a different
language. Children show remarkable resiliency, especially if they
are provided with a stable and loving home environment. Children in
foster care can face tremendous abuse from their peers for being
parentless. These children often internalize that abuse, and often
feel unwanted. Unfortunately, they do not have the emotional
support of a loving permanent family to help them through these
difficult times.

Myth: Lesbians and gay men are more likely to molest children.

Fact: There is no connection between homosexuality and pedophilia.

All of the legitimate scientific evidence shows that. Sexual
orientation, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is an adult sexual
attraction to others. Pedophilia, on the other hand, is an adult
sexual attraction to children. Ninety percent 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 percent of the
men were or had been in a heterosexual relationship with the boy’s
mother or another female relative. The study concluded that “a
child’s risk of being molested by hisorherrelative’s
heterosexual partner is over 100 times greater than by someone who
might be identifiable as being homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual.”10
Myth: Children raised by lesbians and gay men will be brought up in
an “immoral” environment.

Fact: There are all kinds of disagreements in this country about
what is moral and what is immoral. Some people may think raising
children without religion is immoral, yet atheists are allowed to
adopt and be foster parents. Some people think drinking and
gambling are immoral, but these things don’t disqualify someone
from being evaluated as an adoptive or foster parent. If we
eliminated all of the people who could possibly be considered
“immoral,” we would have almost no parents left to adopt and
provide foster care. That can’t be the right solution. What we can
probably all agree on is that it is immoral to leave children
without homes when there are qualified parents waiting to raise
them. And that is what many gays and lesbians can do. “
This document can be viewed in it’s entirety on the web at:
http://archive.aclu.org/issues/gay/parent.html
In conclusion, it seems obvious that society is now slowly accepting
homosexuals’ right to adopt children and recognize that sexual orientation
and parenting abilities are not interrelated.

Hopefully, in a few more years, stories like these we heard in this
presentation will no longer exist. Hopefully, gay couples will no longer
require to lie, cheat or create scenarios in order to be able to adopt a
child.

Parenting is an instinct, the instinct to procreate. Having a child is the
easy part, raising the child, good parenting, is the difficult part.Who
is to say if a straight person is more or less qualified to be a parent
than a gay person? What does sexual orientation have to do with parenting
and child care?

Bibliography
Interviews
Interviews Conducted by Artemis Pattichi, 2003, New York
1st Interview – Nathalie O’Connel
Melanie King
2nd Interview – Paul Leblond
Jack Cartier
3rd Interview – Johnathan Miller
Jason Aaron
Citation
http://archive.aclu.org/issues/gay/parent.html