Specific Purpose: To inform my audience about the debate regarding gay men and lesbian couples adopting children in the United States. Thesis: Social stigma, legal hurdles, and agency biases are the main points surrounding the gay adoption controversy.
In 2011, 400,540 children in the US were in the foster care system, waiting to be adopted according to the Children’s Bureau page at the Administration for Children and Families webpage. However, an entire demographic is being excluded from giving these children a home: gay and lesbian couples.
Just as there is controversy surrounding same-sex marriage, there is also controversy surrounding same-sex adoption. Some believe that the children are better off in foster care than to be adopted into a homosexual household. Others argue that gay and lesbian parents can provide stable, loving homes for these children. Regardless of your view point, the number of gay adoptions in the U.S. has increased from just 8% to 19% from 2000 to 2009 and still continues to grow, according to a 2014 article found at the Adoptive Families webpage page, titled Adoptions by Same-Sex Couples Still on the Rise written by Elise Rosman .
With the increasing number of adoptions and the controversy that surrounds it, it is important to know the main facts for both sides before forming a conclusion.
Social stigma, legal hurdles, and agency biases are the main points surrounding the gay adoption controversy. Transition: Social stigma and public opinions are a very large part of the debate regarding adoption by gay and lesbian couples. I. And many people have strong opinions on both sides of this debate.
a. There are many people who believe that placing children into same-sex families is a harmful practice, in regards to the child’s well-being. i. Timothy J. Daily of the Center for Marriage and Family Studies claims “The evidence demonstrates incontrovertibly that the homosexual lifestyle is inconsistent with the proper raising of children. Homosexual relationships are characteristically unstable and are fundamentally incapable of providing children the security they need….” ii. Many people fear that a child being raised in a same-sex household will subjected to bullying, humiliation, and other forms of social ridicule. b. However, on the flip side, there are many who believe that gay and lesbian parents will be able to provide perfectly stable homes for adoptive children.
i. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “Not one credible study has ever found that somebody’s sexual orientation alone makes him or her more likely to provide an unstable home…. Time and again mainstream groups have said that gay and lesbian parents are as likely to provide supportive, healthy homes as heterosexual parents…” ii. Also, many people fail to recognize that gay and lesbian parents may be more able to understand the challenges that their adopted children will face. They may be able to help their children in figuring out their identity and coming to terms with their out-of-the-norm situation c. Public opinion is an important part in the debate about gay marriage and gay adoption, considering they appear on election bills and those of us over eighteen get the option to vote in favor or not. i. If you look at this graph from a November 2012, USA Today/Gallup poll you can see that the majority about 61% of Americans in 2012 were in favor of gay and lesbian people being legally able to adopt. Which is an increase from the 54% in the 2009 poll.
Transition: But, sometimes social stigma isn’t the only thing keeping gay couples from adopting. II. There are often many legal hurdles that hinder prospective gay and lesbian couples from being able to adopt. a. Most states do not have laws specifically against gay adoption i. According to Scott Ryan, Sue Pearlmutter, and Victor Groza in their article “Coming out of the Closet: Opening Agencies to Gay and Lesbian Adoptive Parents “ published in the Social Woek Journal, Recently overturned was the 1977 law in Florida banning gay adoption. This law was put into effect because of the Save Our Children movement, aimed at “protecting” children from homosexuality
ii. To clarify: most states allow gay singles to adopt. But laws against gay marriage make it nearly impossible for gay couples to jointly adopt b. However, more and more states are allowing joint adoptions by same-sex couples. i. The increasing acceptance for gays and lesbians in our society, as well as the increasing number of states allowing gay marriage, will likely make it more acceptable and easier for gay couples to adopt. Transition: While legal issues are a big factor surrounding gays and adoption, they also have to face biases from the adoption agencies. III. There are many struggles they have to face when deciding to adopt. a. Most gay couples seeking to adopt are restricted to domestic adoptions, or adoptions within US borders. i. This is because many countries, including China and Thailand, won’t knowingly place children with gay couples
b. Gay couples might be wary to try and adopt through private adoption agencies, because many of these private agencies are affiliated religiously. c. Another factor influencing the number of gay and lesbian couples who are able to adopt is the attitudes, biases, and even misinformation of the adoption professional. d. Gay men and lesbian women often encounter barriers when they pursue adoption. i. Adoption workers are supposed to make decision about placement of a child using the best interest standard. 1. However, this standard does not take in to account ones intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational views and beliefs. Transition: Many gay and lesbian people face bias and struggles when trying to adopt though an agency. Conclusion:
As you can see much like the issue of gay marriage, the controversy surrounding same-sex couples adopting is one with firm believers on both sides of the debate. As some of you probably know, the adoption process is not an easy one, and for gay individuals and couples, it’s even harder. Whether its agency biases, legal hurdles, or social stigma, same-sex couples looking to adopt have faced, and will continue to face, many challenges. However, as our society becomes progressively more accepting of gay couples, we will likely see an increase in the amount of gay parents in America. Whether you believe it is socially acceptable or not it is important to consider the 400,000 children in the foster care system and decide for yourself, should same-sex couple and individual be able to adopt?
Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) FY 2011 data, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau, www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb How Many People are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender?. (n.d.). Williams Institute. Retrieved November 11, 2013, http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/census-lgbt-demographics-studies/how-many-people-are-lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender/ Kinkler, L. A., & Goldberg, A. E. (2011). Working with what we’ve got: Perceptions of