Speaking Out

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Tue Aug 24, 2010

Adoptions in Same-Sex Families; Mexico Shows Common Sense

By Sohaila Abdulali

On August 16, the Supreme Court of Mexico upheld a Mexico City law allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.  Although the law applies only in Mexico City, other states must recognize adoptions made there.

UNICEF statistics show that in 2007, Mexico had 1,400,000 orphans due to all causes, including HIV.  AVERT asserts that worldwide, more than 15 million children have been orphaned by AIDS alone.  One would think the Mexican ruling would be celebrated all around as a hopeful sign for children.  However, both the Catholic Church and the Mexican government have spoken out against it, arguing that it is against family values and the rights of minors.

It is difficult to understand their reasoning, given the clear need, and the lack of any evidence to show that same-sex adoption harms anybody.  The American Psychological Association, in a summary of research findings on gay parents and their children has this to say: “…the results of existing research comparing lesbian and gay parents to heterosexual parents and children of lesbian and gay parents to children of heterosexual parents are quite clear: Common stereotypes are not supported by the data…children of lesbian and gay parents have positive relationships with peers and that their relationships with adults of both sexes are also satisfactory... Fears about children of lesbians and gay men being sexually abused by adults, ostracized by peers, or isolated in single-sex lesbian or gay communities have received no support from the results of existing research.”

Despite all the empirical evidence, bigotry and fear still cause people to be threatened and angered by gay adoption.  No doubt this is partly because too many people still believe both that being gay is somehow wrong, and that it is a choice that gay parents will inflict upon their children.  The reality is that sexual orientation is not a choice, and most gay children have heterosexual parents.

The world is full of parents and children.  There are happy and unhappy gay-parented households and no doubt many examples of dysfunctional gay families.  But consider the many, many examples of dysfunctional straight households.  Gay parents did not invent the absentee father, sexual abuse, feckless financial planning, domestic violence or divorce.  Nobody has ever presented evidence that children are better off in general when the parents are heterosexual.

We do not forbid heterosexual couples to have families.  In fact, gay-parented families have an advantage from the start: you cannot be gay and have a child by accident.  You have to really want it and work for it. Anybody who has adopted a child knows the many layers of bureaucracy and the many convoluted processes.  This goes more than double for gay people, and it would be hard to do it simply on a whim.

The Mexico City ruling is good for children, good for parents, and good for society.  From ancient times, adoption has been an expression of human kindness and love.  It is wrong and shortsighted of those who tout family values to pollute this true family value with groundless fears and unreasoning hatred.