Continuing on the theme of adoption (see the last two posts) here’s an article I’m guessing will be in tomorrow’s New York Times. It announces the (unsurprising) news that the census shows a signficant increase in the number of lesbian/gay adoptive parents.
The story leads with a description of a family in Ohio–Matt and Ray Lees and their eight adopted kids. This reminds me of the 12 kid gay family (Steven and Roger Ham’s) in Arizona that I wrote about not that long ago.
It does not surprise me that the number of lesbian and gay couples adopting children is on the rise. Lesbian and gay people aren’t that different from anyone else in many ways and lots of lesbian gay couples want to have kids, just as heterosexual couples do. For lesbians, assisted insemination with sperm from a third-party is a fairly simple option. (Of course, there can be endless legal hassles here, but I will skip that part for the moment.) But for gay male couples the ART path is surrogacy which is, among other things, very expensive.
Adoption is therefore an attractive option, and perhaps a more attractive one for gay male couples than for lesbian couples. (The article doesn’t quote statistics on this, but it’s hard not to notice that the featured couples here and in that earlier study are gay men.) And in general, lesbian and gay people are allowed to adopt children.
It’s important to note that this article is focussed on adoption by gay and lesbian couples, as opposed to individuals. That distinction is important when it comes to law. Generally speaking, single (meaning unmarried) individuals can and have been able to adopt without regard to sexual orientation. (Florida barred lesbians and gay men from adopting entirely, but that ban was struck down last year after a long struggle you can read about in this thread.)
There’s something essentially odd about this legal state of affairs. As the article describes, each of the two dads can adopt some of the children, but none of their children has two parents. That’s far less than desirable, even it if it is accompanied by all sorts of additional legal documentation.
Actually, this situation (where the kids are adopted and in a stable couple household but lack full legal protections) sets up one of the arguments in favor of access to marriage for same sex couples. It would be better for the kids to have secure legal relationships with both fathers. They don’t have that because the two men cannot marry and adoption is restricted to married couples. So the next thing you can ask is for the two men to be allowed to marry.
It’s also noteworthy that while conservative efforts to bar marrige between same-sex people were, for a time, quite successful (their future success remains to be seen) adoption has been a different story. As the article says:
But conservative groups say the fight is weighted in favor of gay people because courts tend to side with them in rulings.
That’s a really peculiar quote if you think about it. The fight is weighted in favor of gay people because courts tend to side with them? Could it be that courts tend to side with them because they have the better legal argument? In which case, saying the fight is weighted in their favor is a bit misleading.
Indeed, as I’ve noted before, the legal case for lesbian/gay adoption is strong. The article itself notes many of the essential points–there is a need for adoptive parents, gay men and lesbians meet the non-sexuality directed requirements, etc.– and you can read a bit more more about that here. And the fact that lesbians and gay men are parents (by adoption and by ART) has in turn become part of the argument in support of access to marriage. You can see the circle closing in the NYT article.