Fooling with Nature: Adapting Adoption for Same-Sex Couples

Green Light in Several Countries Is Sending Up Red Flags

LONDON, NOV. 16, 2002 ( The push by homosexual groups to obtain approval for same-sex couples to adopt children has succeeded in several countries recently. The latest case is England and Wales, where the Lords after a long battle approved legislation to permit adoption by unmarried and same-sex couples.

The Lords had already rejected the Adoption and Children Bill approved by the Commons last May. But in a new vote last week a high turnout by Labor peers gave the government the numbers needed to pass the bill, the Times reported Nov. 6. Previously, the law restricted adoption to married heterosexual couples and single people, including homosexuals.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, the Health Minister, defended the decision to allow unmarried couples, including homosexuals, to adopt as “right and necessary,” saying that it would improve immeasurably the life chances of hundreds of children.

Arguing against the bill, Earl Howe, Conservative Health spokesman, insisted that marriage was the “optimum environment for raising children.” Moreover, he argued, many of the children awaiting adoption are in special care, and being more vulnerable, deserve “the best.”

The bill was being used for social engineering and to write out marriage, argued Conservative peer Lady O’Cathain when the bill was rejected by the Lords in October. She also argued that there was no shortage of married couples ready to adopt children, the Telegraph reported Oct. 15.

Religious leaders had urged a “no” vote to the bill in a letter written to the Telegraph. The letter was signed by the Catholic archbishop of Cardiff, Peter Smith; the Anglican bishop of Winchester, Michael Scott-Joynt; the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Iqbal Sacranie; and the editor of the Sikh Messenger, Indarjit Singh.

In the letter, published Oct. 16, the leaders said that the proposals to be debated would be a profound mistake and would undermine marriage and endanger children. They also warned that the change in the law would raise “deep questions of conscience” for religious people professionally involved in adoption.

They noted that 95% of all adoptions from care are by married couples, and that as recently as 1998 the government said that “marriage provides the surest foundation for raising children.” The letter signers concluded that joint adoption by homosexual couples, or by unmarried heterosexual couples, would not be in the best interests of children.

When the bill returned to the Commons after its first rejection by the Lords, debate intensified and even led to a split in the Conservative Party, with some members disobeying the party leader’s calls to vote against the amendments. During the debate, Labor Member of Parliament Michael Foster warned that young children would continue to “languish in care” if adoption remained restricted to married couples, the Guardian reported Nov. 5. David Hinchliffe, the Labor MP who presented the original amendments to allow adoption by same-sex couples, accused peers of “homophobia” in rejecting his proposals.

In a press release after the Lords’ approval of the bill, Colin Hart, director of the Christian Institute, commented: “Gay adoption will do nothing to meet the needs of vulnerable children in care. It only serves the interests of a minority of adults.”

Moreover, he observed that the government “has completely ignored the public’s views on this issue.” A recent opinion poll conducted in the electoral district of the Prime Minister (who voted for the bill) showed that 71% of parents who expressed a view were opposed to homosexual adoption.

Approval in other countries

Last September, South Africa’s Constitutional Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to adopt children. The court said that people in “permanent, same-sex partnerships” could provide children with a stable home and the support and affection necessary, BBC reported Sept. 10.

Under the South African Constitution, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is illegal, but provisions of the Child Care Act banned same-sex couples from adopting children.

The Pretoria High Court had already declared the laws unconstitutional, but now the Constitutional Court has confirmed the ruling and established that “the rights to equality and dignity were infringed by specific sections of the unamended Child Care Act.”

And, in June, Sweden’s Parliament voted in favor of allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, BBC reported June 6. Under the new law, homosexual couples registered in a legal partnership, permitted in Sweden since 1995, will be able to adopt children both within the country and from abroad.

During the parliamentary debate, Alf Svensson, the leader of the opposition Christian Democrats, had appealed to lawmakers to “make sure that adopted children will be spared experiencing something that every child should be guaranteed not having to experience, that of having only two fathers or only two mothers,” the Associated Press reported June 6.

With its decision, Sweden joined Denmark, Iceland and the Netherlands in allowing same-sex couples adoption rights. But, such couples will have few opportunities to find children to adopt, BBC noted. In Sweden, few children are available for adoption; in 2000, the figure was just 16.

And 17 countries surveyed by the Swedish Foreign Ministry said they would refuse homosexuals as adoptive parents. The Swedish government also proposed allowing lesbians to receive artificial insemination, but the issue has been put on hold until legal loopholes are cleared up.

In the Australian state of Tasmania, the government recently announced it would introduce legislation to allow adoptions by homosexual couples, the Mercury reported Nov. 9. Commenting on the proposal, Anglican Bishop John Harrower said adoptions by same-sex couples would not best serve the interests of children. He said a lot of research showed children raised with same-sex “parents” were worse off than those with a mother and father.

The head of Tasmania’s Catholic community also announced his opposition to same-sex adoption by saying there was no legal “right to a child” under Australian law. Archbishop Adrian Doyle said, “The Christian-Judeo traditions as well as other faiths and some people of no belief hold that the child has a better chance at a balanced development with the love of male and female parents.”

The complementary nature of fatherhood and motherhood in the raising of children was stressed by Australian author Barry Maley in his 2001 book “Family and Marriage in Australia.” Homosexual parenting, he explained, presents a special problem in relation to the processes of socialization and personality development. The experience of male-female domestic interaction in the family home is lacking in a union made up of persons of the same sex.

Maley was careful to point out that this is not to say that homosexual men or women are incapable of rearing children with love, tenderness and proper care. “But children deserve not only that but much more besides which is beyond the reach of the homosexual household,” he concluded.

Considering what is best for children seems to have been forgotten in the recent decisions to approve adoptions by same-sex couples.

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