Gay Adoption, Florida: One year on

One year ago today, a Florida court struck down the state’s prohibition on adoption by gay men and lesbians, which had been supported by social and political conservatives on the grounds that gay adoption is supposedly bad for the children.  One year on, what has been the impact on the children of Florida?

Adoptive parents, with judge (Wikipedia)

In a moving personal testimony at Tampa Bay Observer, Catholic mother and self-declared fiscal conservative  Cathy Olson considers the formal evidence. She notes that:

  • In Florida today,  approximately 850 children are waiting to be adopted. Because parents cannot care for them, they live temporarily with a grandparent or other relative, in foster care or some other kind of temporary shelter.
  • That is fewer than it used to be. Since the courts struck down Florida’s adoption law, more children have gone to live with caring people or have had their family formally recognized and legally protected.
  • Under the ban, it made no sense to deny any of these children a loving family because some people might not be comfortable with what the family looked like.
  • It made no sense to spend tax dollars on temporary homes when there wer caring adults wanting to adopt,  some of them  gay.
  • Research confirms that gay people can be good parents.
Olson did not need formal research, however, to tell her this. She knows from experience that gay men can make excellent parents. How does she know this?

I raised two children with a gay man. He fathered them, loved them and helped them learn right from wrong and two plus two. And then he came out. It didn’t change his love for them, or theirs for him.

Our children both graduated from good colleges in four years — not every child does that. Both have held good jobs — not every young person does that. They are building lives of fulfillment and giving back. They are compassionate, joyful, loving human beings, in part because of their father’s influence. He loved them, set limits, laughed and cried with them, just as I did. He took them — and made them go — to church and soccer practice and dance class and did the things that help children grow up into whole human beings.

I don’t know how we could consider ourselves Christians if we deny children a loving home because of a parent’s sexual orientation.

I don’t know how we could talk about being fiscally responsible if we prefer to have taxpayers pay to care for these children rather than allow them to be adopted into a loving home, when foster care is far more costly.

I don’t know how we could say we want less government if we send government snooping into people’s private lives.

I hope for a world where people like my former husband could be themselves and where good parenting is the only standard in deciding who can adopt.

Tampa Bay Observer

There are many others who can testify from personal experience that lesbians and gay men can and often do make first class parents – most notably, the countless adults who were themselves raised by such people (including my own daughter, who says unequivocally, “Gay parents? I recommend them”).

The aim of the current series of conferences on sexual diversity and the Catholic Church is not to challenge Church teaching, but to explore areas where the implications for pastoral practice have not been fully worked out.  Adoption is one of these areas. Adoption of a child in need, giving her a loving home, is an action in full accordance with the Catholic spirit, yet the institutional  Church irrationally opposes adoption by some well-qualified potential parents, on no other grounds than religious ideology. The theme of the Fordham University conference last Friday was of listening to the experiences of Catholics, both those who are LGBT, and those who have been impacted by them in their lives. I have no idea whether any of the contributions were by children of gay parents, but if not, they should be sought out for other, similar initiatives later. Their voices should be heard.

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