Tag Archives: gay adoption

Penguin (Gay) Parenting: Lessons for Gay Adoption

A few months ago, the Toronto Zoo was in the news, taking flack for a decision to separate two male penguins who had formed a pair bond.

In China, the authorities at a zoo in northern China have taken the opposite approach.  When they saw that a male pair had been attempting to steal eggs, they took the obvious, rational, decision. They identified a chick in need of parents, and set up an adoption.

While zookeepers at the Toronto Zoo were quick to separate Buddy and Pedro for mating purposes, keepers at Harbin Polar Land embraced their eccentric penguins by not only giving them a same-sex wedding ceremony worthy of Leslie Knope but also providing them with their very own baby chick to care for.
Adam and Steve had a history of stealing eggs from more-traditional couples during hatching season. So when keepers noticed a mother of recently hatched twins struggling with her parenting duties, they decided to give Adam and Steve the baby they were looking for.
While it might seem, well, different for a penguin chick to have two male parents, in fact, all penguins are known to have natural instincts for parenting, as males and females equally share in the responsibility to incubate and care for their chicks, before and after they’re born. For this reason, keepers at Harbin Polar Land  
Read morenewsfeed.time.com
Ignore the “wedding” – that’s just an obvious, gimmicky PR stunt. There are more important lessons here.

First, there is the simple fact that same – sex pairing and sexual behaviours are common in all branches of the animal kingdom. The keepers at Toronto Zoo justified their decision by arguing that the two males had paired only because their were no females available, but this common explanation for animal homosexuality is false. The published scientific research makes it clear that while animal same – sex behaviour may be more common in the artificial conditions of captivity, it also occurs widely in purely natural conditions. (For some species, and for some animals, it may be more common than heterosexual mating).

The parenting impulse is common to all species, and is not restricted to opposite – sex couples. The Chinese penguins’ attempts to steal eggs has been widely observed among same – sex bird pairs of many species, just as many human couples, of any sexual orientation, may seek to adopt when they are unable to conceive themselves.
The Chinese zookeepers  “are confident that Adam and Steve’s chick will grow up to be just like its penguin peers”. They have good reason to be. The empirical evidence from the animal world is that the parenting abilities and success rates for same – sex couples are no worse than for opposite – sex couples, and sometimes better: exactly the same as the findings from empirical research on human gay and lesbian parents.
The commonly repeated argument around gay adoption that it should not be about the equal rights of gay parents, but about the best interests of the child, is sound. Only the usual conclusion is false. The best interests of the child require that s/he be placed with the best available adoptive parents, who just might happen to be a same-sex couple.
In northern China, one penguin chick’s mother was struggling to raise it. The best available adoptive parents were the pair named by the keepers Adam and Steve. Lucky chick, to have found suitable adoptive parents.
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Number of gay couples who adopt tripled over last decade

The number of gays and lesbians adopting children has nearly tripled in the last decade despite discriminatory rules in many states, according to an analysis of recent population trends.
“It’s a stratospheric increase. It’s like going from zero to 60,” said Miami attorney Elizabeth Schwartz, who has coordinated more than 100 adoptions for gay and lesbian families in the last year. “I think many really dreamed of doing this but it wasn’t something they ever thought would become a reality.”

About 21,740 same-sex couples had adopted children in 2009, up from 6,477 in 2000, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. About 32,571 adopted children were living with same-sex couples in 2009, up from 8,310 in 2000. The figures are an analysis of newly released Census Bureau estimates.
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Gay Parents Are Great as Parenting

New Study: Gay Parents = Great Kids

Let’s see, so far, California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage has been found to be unconstitutional, unnecessary (or did we miss the collapse of traditional marriage in Massachusetts, Connecticut or the four other jurisdictions in which same-sex marriage is legal?) and just plain bad for the wedding reception industry. Now comes word, courtesy of the journal Family Process, that it’s also bad for kids.A new study by family therapist Arlene Istar Lev shows that children of gay and lesbian individuals and couples are actually better adjusted and have fewer social problems than peers raised by heterosexuals. Before Prop 8–lovers charge reverse bias, there’s a simple explanation for the phenomenon: gay and lesbian parents feel pressure to try harder, lest any shortcomings in their kids be taken as a sign of their inadequacy as parents.
Paradoxically, it may even be harder for the kids of non-straight parents to come out as gay or lesbian themselves. Why? “There is an assumption that the optimal outcome is to produce heterosexual children,” Lev says. “Gay parents may struggle with having gay or transgender children…because of the societal pressure they feel to raise ‘normal’ children.” One more reason for the culture warriors to tend their own gardens and let other parents — gay or straight — tend theirs.
Read more: Time, Healthland

What Constitutes a “Family”? Empirical Study Finds A Wider View

Religious conservatives are regularly referring to the “traditional family” as a foundation for their beliefs, but there is no such thing. The conservative interpretation of the so-called traditional family is  a relatively modern invention, created to fit the conditions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Western Europe and North America. In earlier times, and other parts of the world. family structures varied enormously from  this particular model.
Family history, like all other history, is constantly changing to fit new circumstances, so it should be no surprise that conceptions of family in the twenty first century are continuing to evolve, to fit a world that is no longer what it was in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Some of these changes are obvious, but like so much that is familiar, can easily be “hidden in plain sight.” A new study by sociologist  Brian Powell brings this into plain view. (His study is specifically of American views, but with the emergence of a shared world culture, many of his findings will also have relevance across a much wider geographic region.)
The central finding is that people no longer define “family” as mom pop and kids, but also include   same-sex couples with children (Children seem to be central: childless couples, gay or straight, are not seen as “families”, but just as couples). However, there is an increasing movement towards acceptance. An important finding, familiar from previous studies on the subject, is that people who know gay people (more accurately, who recognize that people they know are gay), are more supportive than those who are not aware that family members or acquaintances are gay. This simply reinforces the necessity for the wider political struggle, that wherever possible, gay men and lesbians should come out openly, in as many contexts as possible. Coming out personally will improve acceptance in our circles of friends and family. Politicians and other public figures who come out   do so indirectly for the wider community.
I particularly liked an argument on gay adoption that I have been using regularly: framing arguments in terms of the “the best interests of the child” can work to our advantage, not those opposed to gay adoption. (In adoption considerations, the best interests of the child require placement with the best parents available. Sometimes, they will be gay).  Indeed, the claim made (but not elaborated on in the reports I have seen), is that the interests of children may well be a more effective argument than others in making the case for more general equality of same-sex couples.

A majority of Americans now say their definition of family includes same-sex couples with children, as well as married gay and lesbian couples.

At the same time, most Americans do not consider unmarried cohabiting couples, either heterosexual or same-sex, to be a family — unless they have children.

The findings — part of a survey conducted this year as well as in 2003 and 2006 by Brian Powell, a sociology professor at Indiana University, Bloomington — are reported in a new book, “Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans’ Definitions of Family,” to be published on Wednesday by the Russell Sage Foundation. Since the surveys began, the proportion of people who reported having a gay friend or relative rose 10 percentage points, said Professor Powell, the book’s lead author.

“This is not because more people are gay now than in 2003,” he said. “This indicates a more open social environment in which individuals now feel more comfortable discussing and acknowledging sexuality. Ironically with all the antigay initiatives, all of a sudden people were saying the word ‘gay’ out loud. Just the discussion about it made people more comfortable.”

The book concludes that framing the equality of same-sex couples in terms of “the best interests of the child” might prove to be a more successful political argument than others.

Oz State Premier Stands Up To Cardinal Pell, Secures Gay Adoption for NSW.

Breaking news today is that the New South Wales state assembly has narrowly approved a bill to put LGBT and heterosexual couples on an equal footing for adoption procedures. There are still a few hurdles to clear before this becomes final, but (as far as I can tell), with this one, the biggest has now been cleared. This is big news for queer Catholics. The formidable Cardinal Pell made clear his strong opposition – but the equally strong support of the Catholic NSW Premier, Kristina Keneally, appears to have been decisive in providing just enough resistance.
Kristina Kenneally, Catholic and Advocate for Adoption Equality

Perhaps it was the full-fledged backing given to the Bill by New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally, a devout Catholic, which took the wind out of the sails of opponents. “In forming my position on this Bill, I have considered my experiences as a mother, my responsibilities as a parliamentarian and my conscience as a Christian and member of the Catholic faith,” she told lawmakers. Instead of proving divisive, it served to unite New South Wales’s main political outfits with Opposition Liberal Party leader Barry O’Farrell also voting in its favor.

This is an important reminder to all of us that the “Catholic Church” is far more than the bishops and cardinals who claim to speak for us. They are fully entitled to speak on behalf of the Vatican and Vatican doctrine – but when they claim to speak on behalf of “the church”, research evidence consistently shows that they deceive. On numerous issues of sexual ethics, ministry, and papal authority, the evidence is that right across the globe, most Catholics simply do not agree with orthodox Vatican doctrine.

This decision is also important as another indicator of an Australian paradox. In the global march to family equality, Australia stands out as an oddity. Although surveys have shown that a strong majority of Australians support full marriage and adoption rights for same sex couples, there is still no national provision for either, and both of the major political parties opposed full equality during the recent election campaign. Below the surface, however, there have been increasing signs of a gathering groundswell of support that could soon force the issue. The election result, which produced a hung parliament with increased influence for independents and a stronger Green Party, may show the major parties how mistaken they were – and may pave the way for a major rethink. It is significant that the NSW result came after a “conscience” vote in the assembly (that is, members were permitted by their whips to take their own decisions, rather than following a party line). It is believed that a conscience vote on marriage in the national parliament could attract significant support.
Meanwhile, even as Canberra dithers, there are regular advances at state level, with the adoption decision in New South Wales just the latest of several.   Earlier this week the Tasmanian lower house voted to recognise same sex marriages conducted elsewhere, which means that Tasmanian couples will be able to secure secure legally recognised marriage easily enough – provided only that they are willing to travel abroad for the wedding. (Several countries which currently recognise marriage equality do not have residency requirements. Nepal could soon be another.)
Gay adoption is already recognised in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, which is also the only state to conduct formal civil partnerships. (New South Wales and Victoria maintain less formal domestic partnership registers, which makes it easier for same sex couples to achieve the de facto recognition that in principle they are entitled to – but which in practice can be difficult without suitable documentary evidence of the relationship.)
Each separate move at state level inevitably leaves the population that much more accustomed to the idea of family equality, and queer families increasingly visible as ordinary members of society, deserving equal treatment before the law, just like everyone else. Each advance bring the next one closer, eroding still further the resistance. Even before the vote in last month’s election, the Greens were promising to introduce a bill to provide for national gay marriage. When they do, they and the newly influential independents in the hung parliament will aim to secure a conscience vote. I suspect that even if they get one, it is unlikely that gay marriage will pass just yet. However, it is clear that Labour at least lost votes as a result of their stand against equality. The coming vote on a Green bill for marriage equality will not be the last. Sooner or later (and probably the former), the politicians will realise they are on the wrong side of history, and stand up for justice.
Cardinal Pell will soon have a lot more to worry about than adoption equality in one more Australian state.

Catholics Support Gay Adoption.

In the US, the struggle over adoption by lesbian or gay families concerns those states which prohibit it, either by state law, or (in Florida) by a complete constitutional ban. In the UK, where discrimination against gay or lesbian prospective parents is prohibited by law, the battle is entirely different. Here, the Catholic Church is seeking an exemption from the terms of the law for one of its agencies.
My friend Celia Gardiner, who as a lawyer and as chair of the Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, is heavily involved in correspondence with the Charities Commission on the Church’s application. I fear I have become totally lost in trying to follow the legal niceties – so don’t ask. However, I have undertaken to assist with passing on links to empirical evidence to contradict the claims on which the bishops base their case, so that I can happily share with you.
I have previously pointed out that in claiming that “Catholics” or “the Catholic Church” oppose gay marriage, the bishops (American or British) are being somewhat economical with the truth. It may be what the bishops oppose, it may be what they want the rest of us to oppose – but we do not simply mould our beliefs to episcopal diktat. Contrary to the Vatican line, most American Catholics do not believe that same sex relationships are morally unacceptable, and overall, are in favour or recognizing same sex marriage (that’s full civil marriage, not just civil unions).
I have now tracked down similar information specifically on adoption, and guess what? the bishops may oppose it, but Catholics as a whole are in favour. Now note, please, that the data are two years old, from 2oo8 (prior to the US election). All the evidence is that attitudes have moved on since then. For the case of the UK, which prompted my investigation, public attitudes are generally more supportive. Any claim by the bishops that “the Catholic Church” opposes same sex adoption is almost certainly not factually correct. ?
Source: Pew Research, 2008

Scottish Adoption Agency WANTS Gay Parents

The Scottish Adoption Association has told gay couples not to be put off by the “very negative publicity” surrounding the issue of same-sex couples adopting children. The publicity in question is believed to relate to the complaints of the grandparents of two Edinburgh-based children who were adopted by a gay couple.
According to Margaret Moyes, Chief Executive of SAA, many disillusioned couples have withdrawn from the process because of the negative messages abounding in the Scots media. One couple, Ms Moyes claimed, actually withdrew for that very reason. She said, “I am really keen to make sure we get the message out that there are lots of children waiting for adoption, and we need to find parents from as wide a group of people as possible.”
(Full Report At Pink News)

Catholics Support Gay Adoption.

In the US, the struggle over adoption by lesbian or gay families concerns those states which prohibit it, either by state law, or (in Florida) by a complete constitutional ban. In the UK, where discrimination against gay or lesbian prospective parents is prohibited by law, the battle is entirely different. Here, the Catholic Church is seeking an exemption from the terms of the law for one of its agencies.
My friend Celia Gardiner, who as a lawyer and as chair of the Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, is heavily involved in correspondence with the Charities Commission on the Church’s application. I fear I have become totally lost in trying to follow the legal niceties – so don’t ask. However, I have undertaken to assist with passing on links to empirical evidence to contradict the claims on which the bishops base their case, so that I can happily share with you.
I have previously pointed out that in claiming that “Catholics” or “the Catholic Church” oppose gay marriage, the bishops (American or British) are being somewhat economical with the truth. It may be what the bishops oppose, it may be what they want the rest of us to oppose – but we do not simply mould our beliefs to episcopal diktat. Contrary to the Vatican line, most American Catholics do not believe that same sex relationships are morally unacceptable, and overall, are in favour or recognizing same sex marriage (that’s full civil marriage, not just civil unions).
I have now tracked down similar information specifically on adoption, and guess what? the bishops may oppose it, but Catholics as a whole are in favour. Now note, please, that the data are two years old, from 2oo8 (prior to the US election). All the evidence is that attitudes have moved on since then. For the case of the UK, which prompted my investigation, public attitudes are generally more supportive. Any claim by the bishops that “the Catholic Church” opposes same sex adoption is almost certainly not factually correct. ?

Source: Pew Research, 2008