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Saturday, 15 January 2011

Expert View on Gay Adoption: Beneficiaries are the Children.

Opponents of LGBT adoption regularly argue (correctly) that this is not a matter of gay/lesbian rights, but of the best interests of the children. Where they go wrong, is in making the false assumption that the best interests of the children involve excluding from consideration otherwise excellent potential parents who happen to have a homosexual orientation. At San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Bryan Moore has a great interview with the adoption professional Adam Pertman, who sets corrects some common misrepresentations.

My favourite statement is his simple and direct response to the claims that LGBT people are somehow unfit for parenthood:
Those claims are made by people who are either uninformed or homophobic.
The important stuff though is not the one-line dismissal, but the substantive argument. Gay adoption is important, because it is in the best interests of the children.

The principle benefits are for children.

The fact is, there are lots of lesbian and gay people who want to give homes to children, so the real victims when that isn’t allowed to happen are the kids who wind up in temporary or group care or some other less advantageous situation. Yes, we should be working for equal rights for all, but the bottom line is, we’re here for the kids.

He takes care to note that "of course" LGBT equality is important, but later throws in important consideration, referring in passing to "qualified" potential parents. We as LGBT activists must always remember that no adult, gay, straight or trans, has any "right" to adopt, but only a right to be considered. All prospective parents are screened for a range of important considerations, and only those that meet the requirements may be approved. LGBT equality does not require an automatic right to adopt - simply that sexual orientation should not be seen as a reason to exclude candidate parents from further consideration.

Perhaps the most encouraging feature of his remarks is the observation that the numbers of openly gay or lesbian parents who are adopting is increasing steadily and rapidly. As the numbers increase, so the rest of the population becomes more familiar with family diversity - and in this case, familiarity breeds not contempt, but acceptance. Children are growing up with friends who have two moms or two dads. Parents from more traditional families are adapting to families of their offspring's playmates,  just as earlier generations of parents adapted to friends with single parents - or to friends of different ethnic backgrounds.

Gay adoption is here to stay - and will contribute to increasing public acceptance of LGBT equality more generally - as well as improving the chances that children will be placed with the best possible among all qualified potential parents.

(Adam Pertman is executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a national nonprofit that is the pre-eminent research, policy and education organization in its field. He is also the author of Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution Is Transforming America.. Pertman sat down with dot429 to discuss LGBT adoption, explaining the progress and the trials and tribulations. Read the full interview at SDGLN)
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