“”Artemis PattichiENG 1000cResearch Paper 12/17/03In recent years, the gay adoption issue has taken big dimensions. Eversince the public acknowledged that Rosie O’Donnel is a gay mother. This hascaused many states to debate the legality of the issue, and has created apublic debate on the ethics of it.
In trying to understand the issues at hart, I researched it from a uniquepoint of view. I interviewed 3 gay couples at different stages of adoption. These are their stories. The first couple we will meet are two women, who have successfully adoptedtwo children.
They actually adopted these children (now aged 10 and 12)before they met or had a relationship. Each one underwent lengthyprocedures with the state adoption agency to get approved as singlemothers. “The state examines not only you’re ability to raise the child” saysNathalie “but also asks rather impersonal questions. I was asked if I washomosexual, I was asked if I had ever had homosexual relations, I was askedif I had any sexual attraction to younger children etc”.
I asked her howshe handled these questions, and she replied “at first, I did not knowwhat to do. I left the questions blank, and went on to the more importantelements, employment, money etc. About a week later, I got a call from theadoption agency asking me why I had not completed all the questions on theform. “They told me that if I do not complete all the questions that myapplication would be summarily rejected”.
“I sat there, thought about it, long and hard. I wanted to adopt a child, Iwanted to raise a child and have a family. What could I do? I was going toget rejected . . . so I decided that having a child was more important to methat some form, and so I merrily went to the adoption agency, lied throughmy teeth on the form, made myself sound like Ms.
America, and got acceptedfor the program. “”I do feel ashamed of having lied. I find that I am one of the most honestpeople around. I could not give up my chance to become a mother for a smallwhite lie” she ends off. Melanie had a much easier time, because in her case, no one asked anypersonal questions.
“I had a good adoption lawyer. There is a high demandin the south for good parents, and I qualified for the program. I was neverasked about my sexual orientation, I was just asked forfinancialinformation. Maybe the lawyer did something, I don’t know, butmyexperience was a lot simpler and less stressful than Nathalie’s.
I asked both why they chose to go through this process as opposed toanother child process of for example artificial insemination. Melaniereplied by saying: “Although it probably would have been simpler to dothat, my reasoning was that there are so many orphans and abandonedchildren in America today, who deserve the chance to have a good home and agood family, and to grow up with people who care about them. To me, a childis a child, and all children deserve to be taken care of. I did not thinkof my personal convenience”I then asked the couple to tell us if it was difficult for the children tohave a gay parent. Nathalie, who has the oldest of the two replies: “Youknow, 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 mestraight out, mommy are you gay.
I was expecting that question much laterin 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 himwhy.
He said ‘because my friend Tommy’s daddy is gay too, so I can joinTommy’s club”. Alas, outwitted by two 10 year olds. Obviously, he did notunderstand exactly what being gay is or means, but as he got older, heunderstood more and more”. The next question asked was “what sexual orientation would you like yourchildren to have – would you want them to be gay, or would it bother you ifthey were straight. Melanie interjected and said “we know, like most gaypeople know, like most doctors know, that homosexuality is something you’reborn with.
We want our children, both our children to be happy and healthyand to be true to themselves. Being a gay parent does not put you in areverse situation, in that as gay parents we want our kids to be gay, andif they are per-say straight, then we would not tell them ‘being straightis not good’. As homosexuals, we both had to undergo a period of adjustingand accepting our sexual orientation, therefore, we don’t want our childrento have to go through that. Whether gay or straight or bisexual for thatmatter, it’s fine by us, as long as our children are comfortable with theirsexual orientation.
We do not want to face a reverse discriminationsituation. I also spoke with a male gay couple, Paul and Jack. Paul has adopted achild using much the same tactics. “When I started the adoption process, I knew that they would never allow agay couple to adopt. In fact I spent years and years contemplating whetheror not I should even bother applying. Finally, I drew up enough courage togo and launch an application.
I filled out the questionnaire in much thesame way most gay men do. . . I lied! Then I got to a part of the form whereit required a woman.
It read ‘single mothers or married couples only’. Iwas stuck! What to do’so I put down Jackie. When I came home, and Itold Jack, he was furious. ‘What do you expect me to get dressed in dragto go for the interview? Where are we going to come up with a Jackie?’Theapplication 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 wasabsolutely thrilled and terrified all at the same time. What to do?Icalled my friend Helen who was at the time acting off-Broadway, and askedher to.
. . play a part for me. She agreed, reluctantly, and off we went.
Iwas praying that they would not ask ‘Jackie’ for identification, but thecouncillor probably saw right through us, and just let us sign the papersand take Tommy home. For the first three years, Helen played out the roleof ‘Jackie’ for the social worker. One day, out of the blue, I got a ‘mycondolences’ card in the mail. It was from theadoptionagency. Apparently, there was someone named Jackie Jameson, married to a Paul witha son named Tommy who died in a car accident on the Brooklyn bridge.
Theyassumed 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 backto 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 commonfor straight couples to go to foreign countries (mainly former communistcountries) 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 warin Yugoslavia. John recounts the story “when we arrived at the orphanage,the conditions were deplorable. There were 10 little boys sharing an oldbroken down bed, and those were the ones that actually had a bed. The placewas filthy.
We were told that most of these children were abandoned bytheir mother’s who were raped during the war. The orphanage we went to wasequipped for 100 children, there were over 600. The director gave us atour, and asked us (smile) how many did we want. In many ways, he soundedlike a salesman, trying to sell us something.
We told him we were lookingto adopt one child, boy or girl, and that we would take the child toAmerica. He looked at me and said “but all the children want to go toAmerica, can’t you take three or four with you, and put them up foradoption?’What this man was saying was unbelievable. As we werespeaking, there were these two boys, chasing this other boy who had foundan apple core. They literally mobbed him for this apple core. The littleboy 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 metVlad, and, about an hour later, we walked out of the orphanage, Jason, Vladand I, official papers and documents in hand, all signed and sealed. Wetook him to our hotel, gave him a bath, something he had never seen beforein his life, and while Jason gave him dinner, I went out and bought himsome clothes. The next day, we took a train from Sarajevo to Belgrade tovisit the American Embassy.
They immediately added him to my passport as achild traveling with parent, and with this, we were able to bring Vlad backto the United States. “Jason adds: “Vlad is now 9 years old, he has learned English, goes toschool, gets straight A’s, plays little-league baseball, and is an allaround 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 severalother gay-families living in proximity, so the whole ‘two-daddy’ concept isnot 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 Vladwould want or would like to have a sibling. “Of course, we’ve thoughtabout this, and in fact we’re thinking of visiting Bosnia next summer sothat Vlad will see his native country, but also to see if the adoptionprocedures are still as easy as they were a few years ago. We are takingdifferent factors into consideration, financial situation etc. “Here we see three different examples of different circumstances surroundingthe adoption of a child by a gay couple.
In each case, the whole processwas not at all straightforward. Recently, there are more and more resources available to gay couplesthrough 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 peoplefrom adopting. The American Civil Liberties Union has issued a document, clearing up mythfrom fact. This document is used on a daily basis by people fighting forthe right of gay couples to adopt children.
Here is an excerpt of thisdocument:”Myths vs. FactsMyth: The only acceptable home for a child is one with a mother andfather who are married to each other. Fact: Children without homes do not have the option of choosingbetween a married mother and father or some other type ofparent(s). These children have neither a mother nor a father,married or unmarried.
There simply are not enough married mothersand fathers who are interested in adoption and foster care. Lastyear only 20,000 of the 100,000 foster children in need of adoptionwere adopted, including children adopted by single people as wellas married couples. Our adoption and foster care policies must dealwith reality, or these children will never have stable and lovinghomes. Myth: Children need a mother and a father to have proper male andfemale role models. Fact: Children without homes have neither a mother nor a father asrole models.
And children get their role models from many placesbesides their parents. These include grandparents, aunts anduncles, teachers, friends, and neighbors. In acase-by-caseevaluation, trained professionals can ensure that the child to beadopted or placed in foster care is moving into an environment withadequate role models of all types. Myth: Gays and lesbians don’t have stable relationships and don’tknow how to be good parents. Fact: Like other adults in this country, the majority of lesbiansand gay men are in stable committed relationships. 7 Of course someof these relationships have problems, as do some heterosexualrelationships.
The adoption and foster care screening process isvery rigorous, including extensive home visits and interviews ofprospective parents. It is designed to screen out those individualswho are not qualified to adopt or be foster parents, for whateverreason. All of the evidence shows that lesbians and gay men can anddo make good parents. The American Psychological Association, in arecent report reviewing the research, observed that “not a singlestudy has found children of gay or lesbian parents tobedisadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children ofheterosexual parents,” and concluded that “homeenvironmentsprovided by gay and lesbian parents are as likely as those providedby heterosexual parents tosupportandenablechildren’spsychosocial growth. “8 That is why the Child Welfare League ofAmerica, the nation’s oldest children’s advocacy organization, andthe North American Council on Adoptable Children say that gays andlesbians seeking to adopt should be evaluated just like otheradoptive applicants. Myth: Children raised by gay or lesbian parents are more likely togrow up gay themselves.
Fact: All of the available evidence demonstrates that the sexualorientation of parents has no impact on the sexual orientation oftheir children and that children of lesbian and gay parents are nomore likely than any other child to grow up to be gay. 9 There issome evidence that children of gays and lesbians are more tolerantof diversity, but this is certainly not a disadvantage. Of course,some children of lesbians and gay men will grow up to be gay, aswill some children of heterosexual parents. These children willhave the added advantage of being raised by parents who aresupportive and accepting in a world that can sometimes be hostile. Myth: Children who are raised by lesbian or gay parents will besubjected 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, forbeing of a different race or religion or speaking a differentlanguage.
Children show remarkable resiliency, especially if theyare provided with a stable and loving home environment. Children infoster care can face tremendous abuse from their peers for beingparentless. These children often internalize that abuse, and oftenfeel unwanted. Unfortunately, they do not have the emotionalsupport of a loving permanent family to help them through thesedifficult 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. Sexualorientation, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is an adult sexualattraction to others. Pedophilia, on the other hand, is an adultsexual attraction to children. Ninety percent of child abuse iscommitted by heterosexual men.
In one study of 269 cases of childsexual abuse, only two offenders were gay or lesbian. Of the casesstudied involving molestation of a boy by a man, 74 percent of themen were or had been in a heterosexual relationship with the boy’smother or another female relative. The study concluded that “achild’s risk of being molested by hisorherrelative’sheterosexual partner is over 100 times greater than by someone whomight be identifiable as being homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual. “10Myth: Children raised by lesbians and gay men will be brought up inan “immoral” environment. Fact: There are all kinds of disagreements in this country aboutwhat is moral and what is immoral. Some people may think raisingchildren without religion is immoral, yet atheists are allowed toadopt and be foster parents.
Some people think drinking andgambling are immoral, but these things don’t disqualify someonefrom being evaluated as an adoptive or foster parent. If weeliminated all of the people who could possibly be considered”immoral,” we would have almost no parents left to adopt andprovide foster care. That can’t be the right solution. What we canprobably all agree on is that it is immoral to leave childrenwithout homes when there are qualified parents waiting to raisethem. 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. htmlIn conclusion, it seems obvious that society is now slowly acceptinghomosexuals’ right to adopt children and recognize that sexual orientationand parenting abilities are not interrelated. Hopefully, in a few more years, stories like these we heard in thispresentation will no longer exist. Hopefully, gay couples will no longerrequire to lie, cheat or create scenarios in order to be able to adopt achild.
Parenting is an instinct, the instinct to procreate. Having a child is theeasy part, raising the child, good parenting, is the difficult part.Whois to say if a straight person is more or less qualified to be a parentthan a gay person? What does sexual orientation have to do with parentingand child care?BibliographyInterviewsInterviews Conducted by Artemis Pattichi, 2003, New York1st Interview – Nathalie O’ConnelMelanie King2nd Interview – Paul LeblondJack Cartier3rd Interview – Johnathan MillerJason AaronCitationhttp://archive.aclu.org/issues/gay/parent.html