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New Report Supports Gay Adoptions:

Some 16 or so states have been considering whether to ban adoptions by gay men and women. So far, only Florida categorically bans adoptions by homosexuals -- in a statute passed in 1977 during Anita Bryant's campaign against homosexuals. Meanwhile, some 119,000 kids await adoption in the U.S.

A report just released by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a prominent adoption policy group, makes the following findings:

**Against a backdrop of increasing public acceptance, social science research concludes that children reared by gay and lesbian parents fare comparably to those of children raised by heterosexuals on a range of measures of social and psychological adjustment.

**Studies are increasing in number and rigor, but the body of research on gay/lesbian parents is relatively small and has methodological limitations. Still, virtually every valid study reaches the same conclusion: The children of gays and lesbians adjust positively and their families function well. The limited research on gay/lesbian adoption points in the same direction.

**Though few states have laws or policies explicitly barring homosexuals from adopting, some individual agencies and workers outside those states discriminate against gay and lesbian applicants based on their own biases or on mistaken beliefs that such prohibitions exist.

**Laws and policies that preclude adoption by gay or lesbian parents disadvantage the tens of thousands of children mired in the foster care system who need permanent, loving homes.

The report is right to note the methodological limitations of many of the studies that have shown that children of gay parents do just as well as children of heterosexual parents. Still, the studies are improving and the latest ones are quite good. While they may not yet fully support the view that homosexual parents are just as good as their heterosexual counterparts, they do support the view that homosexual parents are competent to raise children. They are certainly much better for kids -- including the older and "special needs" kids (e.g., those with illnesses and disabilities) -- who won't otherwise be adopted and will languish in the foster-care system until they "age out." No credible social science evidence suggests they're better off in permanent foster care.

Based on its findings, the report suggests the following policy initiatives:

**Move to end legal and de facto restrictions on adoption by gays and lesbians. This includes working to expand co-parent and second parent adoption, as well as revising agency policies and practices that may impede their consideration as an adoptive resource.

**Develop clear statements in support of such adoptions, recognizing a "don't ask, don't tell" approach disadvantages parents and, ultimately, their children. And develop contacts with the gay/lesbian community in order to engage in genuine, informed outreach.

**Help workers, supervisors, and agency leaders examine their attitudes and beliefs about gay and lesbian parenting, while affirming the value of these families by including them in outreach, training materials, and parent panels.

**Conduct research to inform the development of resources, training, and support to improve post-adoption success. And work to include and educate children in the process, recognizing that they may encounter prejudice if adopted by gay parents.

These seem like sensible recommendations. The report found much confusion in adoption agencies, and among individual child-welfare workers, over whether adoptions by gay parents were even legally permitted. At the very least, states should stop trying to constrict the pool of good parents for children awaiting adoption. A real pro-family, pro-children agenda ought to include making loving and stable home environments available to the kids who need them most, regardless of whether those homes are headed by gay or straight parents.

It's one thing to say that a married mother and father are the ideal environment for raising children; it's another thing entirely to say that no other environment is suitable when that ideal is unavailable, as it often is for children awaiting adoption. The proposals in the states to ban gay adoptions are senseless, cruel, and unsupported by the available evidence. Such bans practically guarantee that some kids will never have a permanent home.

The report was funded by the Gill Foundation and the Human Rights Campaign, which both support equal civil rights for gays.

Aebie:
I have very mixed feelings on gay adoptions. I agree that a stable, loving family is better than languishing in foster care. I don't know how to fully reconcile studies like the above with the studies that show that kids do better when there's a father in the house (or at least a strong male role model). Certainly there is a point where "good enough" is better than holding out for ideal, especially when the kids are otherwise in "awful" or "marginal". The study referenced may be a good step in identifying what "good enough" looks like.

Studies have shown that a significant predictor of child well-being is access to a stable father figure. Now it could be because being a single parent is stressful or implies less financial resources or other things. I haven't read all the studies so I do not know what other variables are controlled for to arrive at the conclusions. Also, these kids are in female headed households, so adding a father could be making sure there is "one of each" for parents, and not that, say, maleness alone is sufficient. That is, it doesn't necessarily suggest that a gay male couple would be okay because they're guys, but a lesbian couple wouldn't be because they aren't.

As I said, I'm conflicted about this...
3.29.2006 11:53am
Stan (mail) (www):
I'm reading a book called "Murder at the Vatican" about Pope John Paul I, which details the Pope's strong stance toward such adoptions. He was a big proponent of gay marraiges, gay adoptions and condoms due to the excessive orphan rate at the time. He mysteriously died 33 days into his papacy and on the eve of announcing the church's change in position on condoms (in favor of their use).

-Stan
3.29.2006 11:58am
Law:
The report was funded by the Gill Foundation and the Human Rights Campaign, which both support equal civil rights for gays.

I appreciate Dale Carpenter's full disclosure of the funding for the study even though it makes the conclusions reached much more suspect. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty certain that neither of these groups has ever funded a study that resulted in a conclusion disfavorable to their special interest.
3.29.2006 11:59am
Hovsep Joseph (mail) (www):
One thing that might corrupt a comparative study of how adopted kids fare in homes with straight parents versus gay parents is the respective pool of kids available to the two groups. Since agencies and mothers giving their kids up for adoption may harbor some conscious or subconscious concern about letting gay couples adopt their kids, gay couples may statistically be more willing to adopt kids that are less wanted by the typical adoptive couple. For example, I recently read Dan Savage's book The Kid on the "open adoption" of his kid. He described how most adoptive parents, whether they admit it or not, are looking for the so-called "Holy-Grail"--a healthy, white, male infant. Adoptive parents may try to avoid babies who they perceive as "damaged goods" (those with mothers used drugs, who have already spent some time in foster care, who have some kind of birth defect, etc.). Gay couples who are desparate to adopt may be statistically more likely to adopt kids that are predisposed to having some health/social problems before they are even adopted. I admit I have no statistical evidence to back this up, but I have heard it talked about anecdotally.
3.29.2006 12:01pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
But gays do icky things (except when it is two hot chicks).
3.29.2006 12:08pm
Huggy (mail):
The anecdotal evidence is that desirable babies are sold to the highest bidder. Only stopped by negative publicity. Probably is done in Florida by not mentioning a domestic partner and paying more. Or simply go out of state or country. Don't have any evidence that would stand up in court. One disgruntled ex-social worker. That person's story of their foster son's early life would touch your heart and make you angry at the mother and the state.
3.29.2006 12:30pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Thanks for the contribution to the discussion, freder...

I was interested to learn that Florida is the only state to ban gay adoptions outright. What restrictions are in place in other states? I know Wisconsin doesn't allow 2nd-parent adoptions unless the couple is married, which would seem to be a de-facto ban on gay couples adopting.

I assume there is a difference between an orphan being adopted and a child with only one parent being adopted by a 2nd person?
3.29.2006 12:30pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Thanks for the contribution to the discussion, freder...

I was just anticipating the arguments that all these discussions about gay _________ (fill in the blank with whatever you want) ends up at. Half the posters will argue that there is absolutely no empirical or sociological evidence that gay people are harming society in the least or trying to recruit anyone to the "gay agenda". Then the social conservatives will say it is icky and gays are destroying society without providing a shred of evidence other than it is somehow "wrong" and deviant.
3.29.2006 12:40pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
You say anticipating, I say instigating.
3.29.2006 12:51pm
trock:
Regarding the studies about the importance of a father figure:

Isn't it widely accepted that the presence of a father figure is simply a proxy for two-parent households. Thus all they show is that kids do better with two parents than one - which is hardly a shocking conclusion and reveals nothing about the desireability of gay adoption.
3.29.2006 1:00pm
Law:
My wife and I are pursuing adoption right now, so I am more familiar than most with the system and its shortcomings. Our conclusion after studying the subject in some detail is that the primary reason many children are languishing in the system is not that there aren't enough married couples to adopt, or that they only want white babies (although there is an understandable preference for infants), but that political considerations make many kinds of adoption effectively impossible.

In our view, the single greatest obstable to more children finding "forever homes" is that social workers are trained that minority children should be adopted only by ethnic minorities or, almost as good (and certainly better than adoption by a white couple), by homosexual couples or individuals. The theory is that sexual minorities will be better able to relate to ethnic minority children than parents who are members of the white ruling class.

This arbitrary political rule means there is an arificial imbalance between demand and supply and, consequently, an artificial "shortage" of homes for children in the system. As best as I can tell, there are more than enough families seeking adoption to adopt the domestically available children (one reason for the large numbers of international adoptions, despite the higher expense), but there are not enough minority parents seeking adoption to choose all of the minority children.

Unfortunately, there is a strong institutional preference for keeping minority children orphaned rather than letting them be adopted by white parents. This isn't true everywhere, of course, but it's the rule rather than the exception.
3.29.2006 1:02pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
This is just one advocate of a particular politcal policy quoting another advocate. The referenced report just cherry-picks conclusions from studies that it likes. There are no interesting legal issues discussed. Move on.
3.29.2006 1:02pm
Alfalfa Male:
Are homosexual couples eager to adopt older children? If not, then it is irrelevant that there are children waiting to be adopted, because those are older kids. For newborns, there are long waiting lists of married couples waiting to adopt. In fact, there is such a shortage of newborns, that there is a waiting list of couples wanting to adopt Downe's Syndrome babies.
3.29.2006 1:05pm
Medis:
Alfalfa Male,

Of course, it isn't necessary that all gay couples, or even a disproportionate number of gay couples, are eager to adopt older children, or any other class of children for whom supply is greater than demand. As long as some gay couples are willing to adopt children in those classes, then allowing gay couples to adopt will address some of that excess supply.
3.29.2006 1:21pm
IB Bill (mail) (www):
I'm also unsure about "gay" adoptions. Mostly thinking out loud here ... and not to be too nitpicky, but I reject pretty much the entire language "homosexual" activists use. I even reject the term "homosexual" because it over-identifies people with their sexual choices, or if you prefer, with their sexual disorders. I wouldn't call someone a pornography-addict at every reference, or terribly interested in pornography addicts who organize to claim their rights.

What we're really discussing here is the qualifications for adoption by individuals. Certainly, we would all agree that some individuals are qualified and others are unqualified. Is someone with a sexual disorder unqualified? If so, which ones? Is someone with an eating disorder unqualified? Someone with crazy political views? Someone with serious or severe psychological problems? Can the chronically depressed adopt?

I don't know the answers to these questions, and I don't really know adoption law.

Does a person who acts on same-sex attraction make that person inherently unfit to serve as a parent? How serious is the mental illness of same-sex attraction? Is there a spiritual component to same-sex attraction that puts the souls of young people in their care at risk? Are these questions appropriate for a secular society to ask?

Gay adoption, like same-sex marriage, is a misnomer. There can be no such thing as same-sex marriage, even if you write it into law. Neither is there really in any sense "gay" adoption. It's just people using their freedom. Are gays specifically excluded from adopting? Is there a "don't ask/don't tell". Is this a "couple" thing only?

Sorry to ask so many questions.
3.29.2006 1:29pm
George Gregg (mail):
How serious is the mental illness of same-sex attraction?

Ugh. The APA has determined, and stated emphatically, that same-sex attraction is not a mental illness. Much as many folks, yourself included, wish that were not the case.
3.29.2006 1:35pm
Taimyoboi:
"Isn't it widely accepted that the presence of a father figure is simply a proxy for two-parent households."

I don't know if this is correct. I recall reading that single fathers did nearly as well as a mother and a father in rearing children, it was only single woman that were at a serious disadvantage.
3.29.2006 1:36pm
George Gregg (mail):
IB Bill: Sorry, that came out more snarky than I intended. In any event, homosexuality is considered a mental illness by only a radical few in the psychiatry/psychology field.
3.29.2006 1:40pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
This is one of those conversations that I don't think I can participate in without adopting a pseudonym...

Have fun, y'all!
3.29.2006 1:47pm
Joel:
Dale wrote:

. . . the studies are improving and the latest ones are quite good. While they may not yet fully support the view that homosexual parents are just as good as their heterosexual counterparts . . . .


What is the word "yet" there for? I see no reason to believe that any competent and unbiased study will ever conclude that homosexual families are as healthy as heterosexual ones, because homosexuals themselves are not as healthy. Gays are more likely to have chemical addictions, more likely to suffer depression, more likely to attempt suicide, etc.

Gays insist that these pathologies are the result of social rejection, while conservatives insist that it is because homosexuality itself is a pathology which gives rise to other pathologies. Without taking sides on that question, it does seem straightforward to conclude that gay families cannot possibly be as healthy as straight ones.
3.29.2006 1:48pm
OneEyedMan (mail) (www):
Does anyone know of any work examining the rate of homosexuality in the children adopted by homosexuals? How about their propensities to have their own children? Given the relationship between demographics and public policy, I could see a compelling state interest in discouraging homosexual adoption if it strongly encouraged marginal people to choose non-reproductive relationships.
3.29.2006 1:49pm
IB Bill (mail) (www):
Thanks, Gregg. Yeah, I know that my view on same-sex attraction is an unpopular one.
3.29.2006 1:53pm
George Gregg (mail):
While the topic is compelling, I've seen more photons wasted on this online than I care to remember.

I think Daniel Chapman has the right idea here.
3.29.2006 1:55pm
IB Bill (mail) (www):
BTW, I'm still not comfortable either way, and lean toward allowing people to serve society in ways they see fit.

While we can make the argument that homosexuality is a pathology that gives rise to other pathologies, we're ignoring that people seeking to adopt have self-selected. We're not talking about "heterosexuals" versus "homosexuals" -- we're talking about two groups of people who have shown themselves highly motivated to raise children, right? And thus more stable?

A heterosexual couple, to have children, merely has to get a little too drunk and forget the birth control, and then refuse an abortion. Where a homosexual couple has to make a serious, conscious, concerted, planned effort to adopt someone. These are not comparable groups of people. Nor are homosexuals not interested in adopting comparable to those interested in adopting.
3.29.2006 2:04pm
IB Bill (mail) (www):
What I'm getting at: If we are comparing homosexuals who have adopted with plain-old breeding heteros, the homosexuals should come way out in front. If not, then there is in fact a real problem.

And remember, if we're not talking about homosexual men and women who've adopted, then we're talking about divorced or single parents, and that's also a different ball of wax.
3.29.2006 2:07pm
Taimyoboi:
Are sexual proclivities (not orientation) included in the studies' measures of psychological adjustment, behavior and well-being?

For example, I believe it is true that having a father in the household delays the onset of puberty and the likelihood of engaging in sexual activity at a younger age.

If that is accurate, then presumably there would be a higher likelihood of sexual activity for daughters at a younger age in lesbian households.

All these being true, that would seem like a valid basis for concern in allowing gay adoptions.
3.29.2006 2:11pm
Kendall:
I appreciate Dale Carpenter's full disclosure of the funding for the study even though it makes the conclusions reached much more suspect. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty certain that neither of these groups has ever funded a study that resulted in a conclusion disfavorable to their special interest.


Just as I'm sure groups such as Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, The American Family Association, the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, The National Institute For Marriage, etc. have never funded studies unfavorable to their opinions.

In truth there will be some people who think that any studies done by a gay friendly group that show results favorable to gays MUST be suspect while a study funded by a christian conservative and presumably heterosexual group should be treated as gospel.

Similarly, some gay groups suspect any study done by a conservative Christian group.

Instead of attacking the authors or funding or whatever of a particular study however I think its more useful to focus on methodological concerns, on sample size, and on the practical results of the study.
3.29.2006 2:20pm
Steven Crane (mail):
"Isn't it widely accepted that the presence of a father figure is simply a proxy for two-parent households."

I don't know if this is correct. I recall reading that single fathers did nearly as well as a mother and a father in rearing children, it was only single woman that were at a serious disadvantage.


Don't you think that this is much more a function of single mothers often being mired in poverty, rather than an argument for the benefits of a father-figure parent?
3.29.2006 2:24pm
OneEyedMan (mail) (www):
That was just one study that it isn't properly footnoted so I can't see how good it was. I couldn't track it down on the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse website.

What you quoted doesn't discuss how that constitutes the bulk of the evidence (unless that's the only study ever done). So I'm wondering what other evidence there is. Besides that, the line of reasoning by "one researcher" isn't very rigorous. Why should heterosexual parenting have to be 100% effective in creating heterosexual offspring to have an effect? That almost suggests that the existance of homosexuality proves that homosexuality is not a socialized behavior.
3.29.2006 2:47pm
Randy R. (mail):
ACtually, there are some studies that show a slight increase in the number of gay or bi-sexual children from gay parents than from hetero parents. However, the researchers concluded that the reason for the slight increase is that children of gay parents are more likely to be comfortable coming out earlier than children of straight parents. Therefore, the 'increase' isn't because there are more gay children, but because they are realizing that they are gay at an earlier age. Which in my mind, is a good thing.
3.29.2006 2:54pm
Randy R. (mail):
Regarding the posts about gays being mentally ill:

Well, it IS true that some gay people are mentally ill. Some straight people are too. But when it comes to adoption, the agencies don't look at general trends in the population. Rather, they look at the adopting couple to determine whether they are fit to handle raising an adopted child. My sister and her husband went through an lengthy adoption process, and they were extensively examined for their finances, their compatibility, support from family and friends, and so on. They wanted to adopt a white girl, somewhere aged around 5 in the US, but because there is such a shortage, they had to look to Russia.

The point is that the touchstone of all adoptions is best interests of the child. If it's better for a child to be with gay parents than in foster case, then what's the problem? You may not like gay people, you may think they are jerks, or have weird sex lives, but that isn't the point. Many straight people have weird sex lives and can be decidedly unpleasant people.
3.29.2006 2:59pm
josh:
to anyone who argues heterosexual couples inherently make better parents:

I suggest making your way to the Cook County Juvenile Division in Chicago -- the sub-division dealing with abuse-and-neglect cases. Those are the ones dealing with sexual assault -- y'know, parent rapes child, grandparent rapes child, etc; neglect -- those are the ones where parents lock children in cages for "acting up"; etc.

Count how many of those cases involve straight couples as compared to gay couples.

My wife is a Public Guardian, a rather novel post in this area of litigation, in which a lawyer represents the child directly. One of hundreds of attorneys in her office, she has a caseload of, oh, about 300 children. Not one of her cases of abuse (again that's rape of child by parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, parent's friend, grandparents' friend -- the list is endless) involve gay couples.

The notion that a parents' sexual orientation is relevant to what is in the "best interest of the child" (the amorphous legal standard) is simply offensive.
3.29.2006 3:05pm
Jimmy (mail):
IB Bill,

More often than not, heterosexual couples seeking to adopt can't "get a little too drunk and forget the birth control, and then refuse an abortion." A high proportion of heterosexual couples seeking to adopt do so because of fertility issues.
3.29.2006 3:05pm
Randy R. (mail):
Finally, much of the debate about adoptions centers around a supposed ideal of a mother and a father raising children. Worse, it's is framed as an either/or situation.

I say supposed because it isn't always the case that this is automatically better. If the husband beats the wife and children, it's probably better they get divorced and the mother raises the children on her own. if the mother is an alcoholic and is mentally ill, better to have the father raise the kids alone. Just having a mother and father doesn't mean the interests of the child are best served in all cases. I recall the case of the fundamentalist family that is virulently anti-gay in Indiana about a year or so ago. They adopted a girl because they didn't want the gay couple to get her, and guess what? The father sexually abused the daughter.

The second part of this is that this is either/or. That all children in foster care have the option of a perfect loving family of man and wife who are morally incorruptable, versus a gay couple who don't provide either the strong father figure or mother figure. But this is a false choice. The fact is that a large percentage of children under the age ot 16 are not being adopted by anyone! That perfect family of a father and mother simply isn't taking them in. So would it not be better to have a gay couple adopt, provided that the couple is just as carefully screened as a straight couple?

And one last point. People often argue that sons need strong father figures. Like who? Tom DeLay? George Bush? (oops. Cant' control his alcoholic and partying daughters). Dick Cheney? (oops. His daughter is a lesbian). I mean, who needs a father like them? I know plenty of gay men who came from strong father figures, and many who came from weak ones. There is no correlation so show that strong fathers produce straight children, or morally better ones or anything else. Marilyn Manson came from a strong family of religion, and he is a goth rocker, defiant of all that fundamentalism. People really need to understand that children are their own beings, and what you do as a parent to mold their personalities is quite limited.
3.29.2006 3:10pm
Hovsep Joseph (mail) (www):
Here is most of footnote 304 of Olga V. Kotlyarevskaya &Sara B. Poster, "SEPARATION ANXIETY AMONG CALIFORNIA COURTS: ADDRESSING THE CONFUSION OVER SAME-SEX PARTNERS' PARENTAGE CLAIMS," 10 U.C. Davis J. Juv. L. &Pol'y 153 (2006), which describes the current scientific literature on the effect of gay parents on kids, including the kids' sexual orientations:

In 2002, the American Pediatrics' Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health issued a report that constitutes the most recent comprehensive review of gay parenting studies. The report found no meaningful differences between children raised by gay parents and those raised by heterosexual parents. American Academy of Pediatrics, Technical Report: Coparent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents, 109 Pediatrics 341 (2002), available at http:// aappolicy.aappublications.org/
cgi/reprint/pediatrics;109/2/341.pdf (last visited Nov. 29, 2004). See also Charlotte J. Patterson, Children of Lesbian and Gay Parents, 63 Child Dev. 1025, 1036 (1992) (concluding that "there is no evidence to suggest that psychosocial development among children of gay men or lesbians is compromised in any respect relative to that among offspring of heterosexual parents. Not a single study has found children of gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents."); J. Michael Bailey et al., Sexual Orientation of Adult Sons of Gay Fathers, 29 Development Psychol. 124 (1995); Patricia J. Falk, Lesbian Mothers: Psychosocial Assumptions in Family Law, 44 Am. Psychol. 941 (1989); David K. Flaks et al., Lesbians Choosing Motherhood: A Comparative Study of Lesbian and Heterosexual Parents and their Children, 31 Developmental Psychol. 105 (1995); Susan Golombok et al., Children in Lesbian and Single-Parent Households: Psychosexual and Psychiatric Appraisal, 24 Child Psychol. &Psychiatry 551 (1983) (finding no significant differences on gender role measures between children of lesbian mothers and control group children); Julie S. Gottman, Children of Lesbian and Gay Parents, 14 Marriage &Fam. L. Rev. 177 (1989); Richard Green, Sexual Identity of 37 Children Raised by Homosexual or Transsexual Parents, 135 Am. J. Psychiatry 692, 696 (1978) (finding no significant difference in gender role or identity); Beverly Hoeffer, Children's Acquisition of Sex-Role Behavior in Lesbian-Mother Families, 51 Am. J. Orthopsychiatry 536 (1981); Mary E. Hotvedt &Jane B. Mandel, Children of Lesbian Mothers, Homosexuality: Soc., psychol., and Biological Issues 275 (1982); Sharon L. Huggins, A Comparative Study of Self-Esteem of Adolescent Children of Divorced Lesbian Mothers and Divorced Heterosexual Mothers, 18 J. Homosexuality 123, 132-33 (1989); Martha Kirkpatrick et al., Lesbian Mothers and Their Children: A Comparative Study, 51 Am. J. Orthopsychiatry 545 (1981) (finding no significant difference in gender role identity); Karen G. Lewis, Children of Lesbians: Their Point of View, 25 Soc. Work 198 (1980) (describing how children of lesbian mothers talk about their adjustment to knowledge of their mothers' lesbianism); Laura Lott-Whitehead &Carol T. Tully, The Family Lives of Lesbian Mothers, 63 Smith C. Stud. Soc. Work 265 (1993) (demonstrating no negative effect on self-esteem and social adjustment); Ann O'Connell, Voices from the Heart: The Development Impact of a Mother's Lesbianism on Her Adolescent Children, 63 Smith C. Stud. Soc. Work 281 (1993) (finding no correlation between parents' sexual orientation and sexual orientation of child); Charlotte J. Patterson, Children of the Lesbian Baby Boom: Behavioral Adjustment, Self-Concepts, and Sex Role Identity, Lesbian and Gay Psychol.156 (1994) (studying children born to or adopted by lesbian mothers); Charlotte J. Patterson, Families of the Lesbian Baby Boom: Parents' Division of Labor and Children's Adjustment, 31 Developmental Psychol. 115 (1995); Charlotte J. Patterson, Sexual Orientation and Human Development: An Overview, 31 Developmental Psychol. 3 (1995); see also Elizabeth D. Gibbs, Psychosocial Development of Children Raised by Lesbian Mothers: A Review of Research, 8 Women &Therapy 65 (1989) (reviewing literature).
3.29.2006 3:15pm
Houston Lawyer:
A larger question is whether adoption agencies will be allowed to discriminate in favor of heterosexual couples. If they are not, I suspect that we would see a decrease in the number of infants put up for adoption. A more effective way to decrease the number of children waiting on adoption would be a prohibition on racial discrimination in adoption.
3.29.2006 3:28pm
Hovsep Joseph (mail) (www):

Given the relationship between demographics and public policy, I could see a compelling state interest in discouraging homosexual adoption if it strongly encouraged marginal people to choose non-reproductive relationships.

First, if children raised by openly gay parents turn out to be more likely to be openly gay as adults than children raised by straight parents, the reason is probably not that kids decide to be gay because their parents are gay any more than the typical gay kid today decides to be straight because his parents are straight. The reason for any such difference would probably be that kids raised by anti-gay straight parents may fear their own sexuality and never express it, or keep it under wraps, Brokeback style, whereas kids raised by parents who are gay or gay-friendly are more likely to be comfortable with their sexuality if they are gay. Hence, there may be statistically a higher incidence of homosexuality among kids raised by gay parents than straight parents.

Second, this fear of human extinction if we allow too many people to engage in nonreproductive sexual acts is absurd. This is a non-issue. There are more than six billion people in the world. If we go extinct its not going to be because gay people adopt children. If that's the best argument you can come up with, this battle is going to be a lot easier than I might have imagined.
3.29.2006 3:51pm
Kendall:
Houston Lawyer -

A larger question is whether adoption agencies will be allowed to discriminate in favor of heterosexual couples. If they are not, I suspect that we would see a decrease in the number of infants put up for adoption. A more effective way to decrease the number of children waiting on adoption would be a prohibition on racial discrimination in adoption.


Can you expand on this point a little? My general understanding is that a kid is up for adoption. someone, eithe a couple or an individual files for adoption. A background check is done for suitability. Placement is either denied or rejected. In that process what would "discriminate in favor of heterosexual couples." actually look like? how are we to legislate that? how are we to enforce that if in fact such a policy is in place?

Should gay couples be forced to jump through more hoops to adopt a child? If a gay couple is more heavily screened why not screen a heterosexual couple equally throughly to ensure there is the best environment for kids?
3.29.2006 4:01pm
Kendall:
I... meant to say "placement is either approved or rejected" not "denied or rejected"
3.29.2006 4:02pm
Mr. Jenkins (mail):
Kendall:
The point is obvious.
Two couples looking to adopt. Perfectly similar in attributes (age, race, income, family support, etc.). The only difference is one is a traditional husband and wife, the other is a gay couple. Can the traditional family be preferred over the gay couple?
Variation...The traditional couple is inferior in some aspect (not same race as child, lower income, less support, worse neighborhood, etc.) Can they (still be preferred?
One thing not mentioned so far is the ability of a traditional couple to (ideally) provide an example of how men and women should interact.
3.29.2006 4:59pm
Kendall:
Mr. Jenkins - I guess I still don't see how it would be enforceable. I mean, I don't think most adoption agencies would release to other people that "you lost out to a homosexual couple" or "you lost out to a heterosexual couple" or "we gave the kid you were interested in to a wealthier couple" so to me, if the concern is can someone give a heterosexual couple preference - of course! because there are no grounds not to and if you did do so it'd be hard to prove otherwise. The point here is a view that homosexuality is not a grounds to deny adoption, not that heterosexuality can't be preferential to an individual adoption agency.

I'll even go a step further. In many states such a strong animus exists against gay couples I think there's a compelling state interest in not giving gay couples adoption rights not because they're incapable inadequate or in the least inferior parents but merely because the child of a gay couple is likely to be subjected to such strong vitriol and hatred they could conceivably be subjected to harm by the fact of the proposed parents homosexual orientation.

With that said however, I also think there are cases where a homosexual couple could and should be given preference. For example, an older child (a less likely group of adoption candidates which are heavily biased towards infants) who identifies as homosexual should reasonably be allowed to prefer a homosexual couple as his or her parents if he wishes. Or, a homosexual couple with say less income than a competing heterosexual couple but the father in the heterosexual couple had a drunk driving conviction 5 years ago.
3.29.2006 5:17pm
LY (mail):
Why are so many readers of this blog so homophobic?
3.29.2006 5:25pm
OneEyedMan (mail) (www):
Hovsep Joseph, thanks for your footnotes. That's a lot richer than Kendall's answer and gives me lots to read. .

As I understand what you are saying, you believe that sexuality is inborn and expression depends on a supportive
environment. This seems to require two assumptions, that homosexuality has primarily unlearned causes and that sexuality be binary (or near so) such that few, if anyone, can choose, in the way one chooses between living in a city or the suburbs, between homo and heterosexuality depending on how they are raised.

I buy your argument that a supportive environment encourages people with genetic predispositions for homosexual urges to follow those urges.
But I argue simply that some people's sexuality is informed by the way they are raised and could be happy either way.

That sounds like a testable hypothesis. Find families with biological children and at least one one adoptive child. Given that a biological child is gay, what is the likelihood that the other biological children are gay, and what is the likelihood that the adoptive child is gay. Genetic expression should be a lot more powerful.

As far as I know, no one has done that precise experiment. However, there are some interesting related experiments. I am not sure if these studies are any good, but they make for interesting conversation:
http://www.worldpolicy.org/globalrights/sexorient/twins.html

52% of identical twins of homosexual men were likewise homosexual, compared with 22% of fraternal wins, but only 9% among non-twin biological siblings, that could suggest in vivo causes are more powerful than genetic causes. But what do we make of 11% of adoptive brothers sharing homosexuality? The samples aren't huge, so let's call this the same as the 9% among non-twin biological siblings. That's compared with a background rate of what 5%-6%? Doesn't that suggest that socialization has some role? Unless 10% is the true background rate of homosexuality, which is possible, but then suggests no genetic condition, only stuff that happens in the womb.
That's an interesting idea, maybe that could be tested with Amniocentesis data.


I didn't says that the government was worried about extinction, only demographics. Since currently only about 1% of American's are exclusively homosexual, if that went to 10% that would raise the sustainable children per women from 2.1 to 2.32. The CIA fact book said that that in the US, the total fertility rate is 2.08 children per woman. The age distribution of society impacts the funding structure of programs like social security. A large total economic output may not seem as important as per capita output, but being able to spread the cost of public goods among a larger population can contribute to individual prosperity. Children have positive externalities in social capital formation and a normalizing behavior on parents (among others) that strongly outweigh their negative externalities in most rich economies, so their is reason to suspect that they are an under provided "good". Is all this worth the costs in thwarting the adoptive desires of homosexuals? I don't know. However, since I don't have a strong moral position on the matter, I'd like to know what the costs and benefits are before I make up my mind.
3.29.2006 5:29pm
Medis:
Just an aside, but gay people can and do reproduce.
3.29.2006 7:08pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
LY: I think it's a side-effect of the fact that so many OTHER readers are intolerant of non-PC opinions.
3.29.2006 7:22pm
Walk It:
Daniel,
Lol. Sure homophobia is caused by those "others" who are intolerant of non-PC opinions. Really, rotflmao. You are a card!
3.29.2006 8:42pm
Walk It:
Oh, I just checked ... marquette email address. As a fellow catholic, I didn't know as a group we had the capability for such sly humor. Wait... you were joking, weren't you. ;-)

If that was your serious response, then I might just tell LY that the answer to his question is there might be a comfort level here with the "G-d told us so" rationality of ultimate explanations. I might be wrong, of course...
3.29.2006 8:47pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Actually it was a comment on how disagreement always turns into charges of "homophobia" among most of the left-leaning readers here. Clearly it went right over your head, though. Hope this is a little more your speed.

Love the "Marquette Student = Catholic" reasoning, by the way... Your logic is obviously infallible.
3.29.2006 10:23pm
Kendall:
I wouldn't say everyone here is homophobic, or even most of the posters regardless of their position on gay adoption or any other issue. I AM troubled by the number of people who rely on their own personal biases and disregard scientific consensus (the people maintaining that homosexuality is a pathology for example).
3.29.2006 10:41pm
Ronski:
Joel writes:

Gays are more likely to have chemical addictions, more likely to suffer depression, more likely to attempt suicide, etc.


Maybe, but if true, does Joel believe such behaviors are not also more prevalent among, say, African-Americans, Native-Americans, or, for that matter, Gypsy-Americans?

Does Joel think those three groups should be denide the right to adopt children?

If not, is Joel, among so many other posters here, suffering from an irrational prejudice against gays? My guess is yes, but I'm open to hearing comments.
3.29.2006 11:04pm
mls (mail):
Houston Lawyer wrote: "A more effective way to decrease the number of children waiting on adoption would be a prohibition on racial discrimination in adoption."

Actually, such a prohibition exists -- check out the Multi-Ethnic Child Placement Act of 1996. An adoptive placement cannot be rejected or delayed on account of the race of the prospective parents or child.

This idea that the reason there are all these unadopted children who happen to be black, hispanic or biracial is because of social worker prejudice is current fiction. In the 1970s, an organization called the Black Social Workers Association issued a statement saying that interracial adoption should be disallowed. For a time, many agreed. That is not the case any longer.

If there is a dispute between two sets of prospective adoptive parents, it is likely that one who shares the race of a minority child will "win" over a racially different couple (but one of the reasons this is so is that oftentimes that same-raced couple also happens to be a relative of the child (grandparent, aunt, etc.), and gets the benefit of the "biological-ties" trump card as well as the race trump card.)

But in most of the cases of unadopted minority children, there are not "competing claimants" in any sense. The kid is lucky if there happens to be one claimant! In that situation, the race of the adoptive parent is essentially irrelevant, though sensitivity to issues of race, racism, and racial identity is considered a plus.

It is utter fiction to say that these children languish in foster care because social workers are discriminating against the hordes of white couples eager to adopt them. There are no such hordes. Despite the fact that agencies offer lower fees for the placement of a black, hispanic, or biracial child, there just simply aren't enough families willing to take them.

So you can't solve the anti-gay-adoption problem of reducing the available pool of adoptive parents by claiming the pool is plenty big, if it weren't for those discriminating social workers. Yes, there are more adoptive parents available to adopt white, healthy newborns than there are babies to fulfill the need. But there are simply not enough prospective adoptive parents to take children who belong in any other category.

SO go back to the real problem -- is it worth it to reduce the pool of available adoptive parents by banning gay singles or couples from adopting? Race is not the issue here.

GO!
3.29.2006 11:04pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Actually, I don't think very many people here even believe gay couples should be prohibited from adopting, considering it's obviously a better alternative than foster care. Most of the states seem to agree too, based on Carpenter's post.

Look elsewhere for your irrational prejudice... you're picking out a few (probably overstated) posters and projecting them onto everyone else.
3.29.2006 11:25pm
Kendall:
Daniel - Just curious if you saw Clayton Cramer's posts in this thread. I certainly agree most of the posters here have been relatively tame in their comments by comparison to anything he says but I also think that the fact that he posts at all demonstrate that there ARE in fact some homophobic posters. The fact that he is fairly well known on this blog and once even briefly became a co-blogger (rather than a guest blogger as I recall) at the Conspiracy does not necessarily demonstrate an anti gay bias but certainly does provide insight into the audience of the blog.
3.29.2006 11:30pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I don't think Clayton fears "gays" at all. I think he believes the conduct itself is morally offensive, and he doesn't think it should be supported in policy or by the populace in general. (I hate to speak for others, but I bet he would consider "tolerance" another matter entirely.)

You are far too quick to throw the label "homophobe" on people you disagree with. Engage, don't attack.

Or Hell... go ahead and attack. From a culturally conservative perspective, it'd be better to not have the discussion at all... so by all means, continue to turn off everyone who disagrees with you.
3.29.2006 11:50pm
Kendall:
You are far too quick to throw the label "homophobe" on people you disagree with. Engage, don't attack.


I might suggest that claiming gays engage in coprophilia and that he knew this because he apparently lived around and spent time with coprophiles and then refusing to provide any data to support claims of coprophilia or any reason as to why he spent time with such people discussing their sexual habits constitutes the same thing. Its fairly hard to assume a person has an innocent motive for a seemingly baseless, offensive, and malicious attack of that sort.
3.29.2006 11:57pm
Kendall:
incidentally, clayton cramer's idea of tolerance is apparently this

One of the reasons why I have gone from a "live and let live" libertarianism about homosexuality to a pretty strong hostility to it is because homosexual activists are astonishingly fascist in their notions of free speech. Even if you preface your disapproval of homosexuality with, "It's not the government's job to prohibit it," (as I used to) that's not good enough for the homosexual fascist movement. They will be content with nothing less than the complete suppression of free speech.

Why? Because I think that many homosexuals know that there is something pretty sick about their movement, not necessarily their sexual act alone, but the behaviors that are disproportionate in the homosexual community (some of which have passed into heterosexuals because of homosexual dominance of the entertainment industry): promiscuity; piercings; coprophilia; cross-dressing; sadomasochism; extraordinary personal immaturity; the inability to decide whether groups like NAMBLA are good or bad.


The bolded words are of course my emphasis. This is Clayton Cramer's idea of tolerance. Blame a few homosexuals for his overall dislike of homosexuality. Call it sick. Make unsubstantiated coprophilia claims. Imply that homosexuals endorse pedophilia. ALL homosexuals want to supress free speech apparently.
3.30.2006 12:07am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Had to go look that one up... pleasant.

Well... I'm not going to try to defend Clayton's position because I'm sure I wouldn't do him justice. I *hope* the reason he didn't cite any studies is because no studies have been done on the subject! Woe for our culture when tax dollars are spent studying crap like that (no pun intended, of course).

But why is it "offensive and malicious" to associate homosexual sex with "coprophilia?" You find someone's sexual appetites so objectionable that the mere ASSOCIATION is offensive and malicious? So I guess there's a sliding scale of sexual tolerance... care to draw a line in the sand defining bigotry here? :)
3.30.2006 12:09am
Proud to be a liberal :
There are a number of different ways for adoption to occur. One is placement of children in foster care after parental rights have been terminated. Many of these children are older and have suffered psychological and even physical abuse. Many adoptive parents want younger and healthier children and often go to international adoption, if they have the economic resources for it.

Another way to adopt is through private placement, where the decision on which parents will adopt the child is made by the birthmother. I did read an interesting article which suggested that some birthmothers like giving their babies to gay men because they can maintain a relationship with the baby and be the baby's only mother.

Many state foster care agencies have websites with information about the many children who are in need of adoptive homes. As long as there are children who are in state custudy and need parents, it seems odd for anyone to stand in the way of permanent adoption. For these children, a gay parent may be the only parent they may have a chance for.

All studies show that children who are in state custody until adulthood are at tremendous risk for serious problems, including homelessnes, unemployment, lack of education. They often graduate from state custody to nothing. Thus, clearly a gay parent is better than no parent at all!
3.30.2006 12:26am
SLS 1L:
2 points:

1) Any "research" funded or performed by an advocacy group, or one that has already taken a position on the substantive merits the policy it's "studying," is guilty until proven innocent. That applies to this study as well.

2) Any possible negative effect that having gay parents has on a child is obviously trivial compared to things like parental income, which we know has an enormous effect and don't consider a disqualifier unless the prospective parents are too poor to raise a child at all.
3.30.2006 12:41am
Randy R. (mail):
I'm not at all offended to associate coprophilia with homosexual sex, and I'm a gay man!
I hope you are not offended when I associate coprophilia with heterosexual sex, though.
Absolutely everything a gay man or lesbian does in the privacy of their home can and is done by straight people in their home. Think up whatever sexual act (or perversity, if you prefer) and it's associated with both gay and straight people. And since our guests here have decided that the population of gays is only 1% of the total, that means that virtually all the sexual perversion, based on absolute numbers, is done by straight people. Therefore, you need not fear or be concerned with the sexual practices of a tiny percentage of 1% -- rather, fear the sexual practices or your group, the heteros.
3.30.2006 12:41am
Kendall:
Well... I'm not going to try to defend Clayton's position because I'm sure I wouldn't do him justice. I *hope* the reason he didn't cite any studies is because no studies have been done on the subject! Woe for our culture when tax dollars are spent studying crap like that (no pun intended, of course).


You're right, its preferable to believe Clayton Cramer lied that there is a link between gay men and coprophilia rather than that he simply didn't cite the studies because he is unaware of their assistance. I'm glad we agree.

But why is it "offensive and malicious" to associate homosexual sex with "coprophilia?" You find someone's sexual appetites so objectionable that the mere ASSOCIATION is offensive and malicious? So I guess there's a sliding scale of sexual tolerance... care to draw a line in the sand defining bigotry here? :)


Its true that I find coprophilia personally disgusting (an opinion I suspect is shared by the vast majority of posters here and in this country) but that's not why Clayton Cramer's usage of it was malicious. I called it a malicious attack because Cramer first used here saying

a large subgroup for whom sexuality is heavily tied to pain, violence, humiliation, and what are normally considered childish obsessions with excretory products


which is A) ad hominem B) unsupported C) gratuitous to the topic D) meant to demean homosexuals.

My personal opinion of coprophilia is that it is offensive, but it also appeared to be Clayton Cramer's intent to use it to to show the depravity of the homosexual population. Which is why I called it malicious.
3.30.2006 12:53am
Ben-Hsv (mail):
My prediction: This debate will mirror what we went through thirty years ago with divorce. That is, every study done will show that gays are fantabulous parents... right up until the time that gay adoption is legal everywhere and social scientists are forced to admit that the studies were bunk. "Studies" "proved" for years that divorce not only did not harm children, but was well nigh a benefit to them by allowing them to have larger, more "diverse" families. It was only later that the naysayers were proved right.
3.30.2006 9:23am
Hovsep Joseph (mail) (www):
Are commenters here suffering from irrational prejudices? Yes, I think most commenters here, liberal and conservative, myself included, have irrational prejudices. In my view, this is one of the virtues of a forum like volokh.com. We all have not-well-thought-through opinions and in real life we probably tend to share those opinions with other people who share similar irrational prejudices, thus reinforcing them. On the other hand, in this forum, people feel more free to throw out every argument they can think of to support their cause and, while this generates some offense and frustration, I think it ultimately serves a good purpose. Bad ideas and rationalizations are exposed to the light of day and people who are less invested in those ideas change their minds when they see that one side is blowing smoke or, say, trying to discredit gay rights by associating it coprophelia. In fact, this kind of strained argumentation merely discredits Clayton Cramer in most people's minds and makes gay rights look like the position reasonable and thoughtful people take.

I am a self-identified liberal gay man who doesn't believe in God, supports same sex marriage, thinks there's no reason otherwise qualified gay people should be able to serve in the military and adopt children. In short, I'm pretty far to the left of the average commenter here (although I'm not a copropheliac) and I sometimes struggle with the base anti-gay rhetoric that seems to bubble up in every post on a gay issue. But at the end of the day, there is a certain kind of positive evolution that takes place here, elevating certain ideas and discrediting others. So, I think people should try to step back and look at the bigger picture and not be so personally offended by every excessively provocative comment. I'm not suggesting its easy, but I think a great service is performed by having a forum where there are multiple competing perspectives and all kinds of arguments (emotional, rational, legal, empirical, analogy).

By way of comparison, RedState has probably permanently discredited itself by stifling all dissent on an issue when the overwhelming majority of the population knew they were wrong. I think allowing extremes on all sides of an issue like gay adoption ultimately furthers your cause if you really think your argument is superior.
3.30.2006 9:36am