Nowadays, when someone comes out as being gay, little stir is made. When it comes to adopting a child, however, being gay can make a world of difference.
Ten states have laws banning homosexuals from adopting. Last week, Rosie O’Donell came out as a gay parent in support of a Florida couple who is fighting
to keep their foster son. The couple, Steve Lofton and Roger Croteau, have raised five foster children from infancy.
Each child was HIV positive or mortally ill when they came to the Lofton-Croteau family. They were able to provide a healthy and loving home in which the
children have been able to survive their illnesses.
One child in the Lofton-Croteau family, Bert, no longer tests positive for HIV and is under the age of 14, so by Florida law he must be moved out of foster care and into the adoption network. Because Florida law bans gays from adopting, the state will take Bert from his loving family and place him into the adoption system.
Part of the argument against gay adoption is the claim that children should be placed in traditional families with a mother and a father.
However, at least 34 percent of adoptive children enter non-traditional families. According to the 2000 census, fewer than 24 percent of homes are composed of a husband, wife, and child under the age of 18. The type of family unit that opponents to gay adoption cite is becoming less of a norm as the number of non-traditional families continues to rise.
Adoption agencies seek to place children in stable environments. Studies do show that homosexuals are more likely to have short relationships, but these short-term relationships are common among gay people because this society chooses not to recognize long-term unions between people of the same sex.
There are, however, plenty of homosexual couples in committed long-term relationships. Lofton and Croteau, for example, have been together 18 years.
Civil unions and domestic partnership laws would offer homosexuals the option of a legally recognized lifetime commitment, and help people in a variety of other situations create stable family environments for children to grow up in.
There is still a stigma linking homosexuals with child molesters and pedophiles. This misconception is reinforced by legal and religious organizations and makes it difficult for homosexuals to work with children or adopt. Laws should prevent convicted child abusers from adopting, but wrongly treating homosexual people as child abusers is a crime that limits the growth of our society.
Not only are parenting rights restricted on the basis of sexual orientation, but transgender parents, too, often are denied parental rights due to legal or domestic misunderstandings. Responsible adults, gay or otherwise, who want children but are unable to have children of their own, should be allowed to adopt.
Opponents of gay adoption are also fearful that growing up with gay parents makes kids gay. The sexual orientation of a child’s parents does not determine the child’s sexual orientation. Many heterosexual children have been raised by lesbian and gay parents.
Children can understand love between, and from, two parents of the same sex just as well as they can understand love between two parents of the opposite sex.
For Rosie O’Donell, like most people, many things in life take precedence over sexual orientation. The welfare of children, too, should be placed high above a parent’s sexual orientation.
Vincent Lizzi can be reached at email@example.com