When dealing with the subject of child welfare, whether it is Child Protective Services, foster care or adoption, one cannot sidestep this issue. I also realize for a number of people this is a very controversial subject. I further realize that for some the answer would be an immediate and resounding NO! I have never been one to avoid controversy nor accept the answer of no when the logic behind it does not have sound reasoning to go with it.
I ask you to look at these scenarios below and determine which situation would be in the best interest of the child.
• A child is in the home of its biological parents. They are neglectful and abusive.
• A child is removed from its biological parents home due to abuse and neglect and is placed within the foster care system. The child is moved from home to home numerous times with no reason ever given.
• A child, having been removed from the home of its biological parents, after several moves within the foster care system, is placed within an institution until reaching the age of eighteen. At eighteen its cast out onto the streets and told, “You’re on your own.”
• No heterosexual couples apply to adopt a child in foster care. However, a stable gay couple comes forward shortly after being placed in foster care wishing to adopt the child. They have the financial resources to provide for the material needs of the child and can also provide a stable, nurturing, safe and loving home.
Which scenario have you decided is in the best interest of the child? It is my hope that at least the majority reading this will decide the fourth situation is in its best interest.
The first and fourth scenario did not happen to me. However, the second and third did.
I was placed for adoption by my nineteen year old unwed mother at birth. She believed this would be best for me considering her personal circumstances. I was placed instead into two institutions for the first year of my life. This was followed by eleven different foster homes over the next ten years. While in various foster homes I would be verbally, physically and sexually abused. I would even need to learn to steal food after being restricted to one meal per day in one home. Finally I was placed in yet another institution. I would remain in this institution until I aged out at eighteen. Fifteen moves and abuse by the age of eleven definitely were not in my best interest nor would it be in the best interest of any child.
The final institution I was placed in was Boys Town, Nebraska. It turned out to be a pretty good place for me, though I believe until this very day that it was not in my best interest. When I left at eighteen I was not ready to be out in the world on my own.
As a child, if a family had come forward and allowed to adopt me, I would not have cared whether they were heterosexual or homosexual. I desired only to have a family, someone to actually call me son and someone to actually say they loved me!
Gays and lesbians, other than whom they may love, are no different than heterosexuals. They have the same wants and desires as anyone. They go to work, pay their taxes and contribute to their communities. Many of them also wish to be parents, whether it is foster parents to children in temporary need of a home or adoptive parents to give a child a forever family.
Some argue that having gay/lesbian couples or singles foster or adopt children will lead to the child being turned gay or lesbian. Some say this is putting a child at risk for sexual molestation.
Let me attempt to respond to those two charges.
I am of the firm belief that absolutely no one is turned gay or lesbian by another person. One is born either heterosexual or homosexual. If one’s environment while growing up can determine one’s sexuality then I should be heterosexual. Each foster home I was in was headed up by a mother and father. Each taught me what right and wrong. Each was a Roman Catholic home that believed one being homosexual was wrong. This is also what I believed growing up. I played sports, I dated girls, I did everything one would expect of a growing heterosexual youth. It took years of struggling with my sexuality which ended with a suicide attempt at age twenty for me to realize and accept who I was and that I had been born this way.
Can anyone reading this tell me when they made the decision that they would be heterosexual? No you cannot! Being heterosexual came naturally to you. It was not a choice. Neither being a male that is gay a choice made by me. It came naturally to me and I just needed to realize it and accept it.
Over the years I have known gays and lesbians who have been foster or adoptive parents and the children, now adults are heterosexual. It is who they are! Thus the first argument of a gay or lesbian can steer a child to be homosexual is pure hogwash!
The second argument of children being at risk of sexual molestation is just as false. Has it on occasion happened? Yes it has. However, if on examines the statistics, one will find that the overwhelming number of sexual molestation, whether straight or gay in nature, are being done by heterosexuals. It was supposedly heterosexuals that raped me as a youth while in foster care…not a homosexual!
Whether a child is sexually molested by a homosexual or heterosexual, the molester should be arrested, prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law if found guilty. I have no sympathy whosoever for sexual molesters in any way, shape, form or sexuality!
However, stable, caring, loving and nurturing gay and lesbian couple or singles should not be denied the opportunity to share their lives with a child in need of a family just because of their sexuality. They have the same capabilities a heterosexual has to offer a child.
Today three states ban homosexuals from adopting children strictly based on their sexuality. Unfortunately there seems to be a trend in other states to seek laws to ban in their states, including my own former state. I have found few states that will not allow homosexuals to foster as well. However, though few states currently have laws on the books banning there appears in many to be unwritten policies to do everything possible to put obstacles in the path of homosexuals to foster or adopt. Current laws banning adoption must be overturned and the efforts by other states to ban must not be allowed to pass. The obstacles placed by states must be removed. No child should be doomed to a childhood of no home or family based on the parent(s) sexuality.
There are currently only 175,000 licensed foster came homes across the country; this is despite the fact that there are 523,000 youth in foster care, 120,000 are currently available for adoption but continue to languish within the foster care system and 20,000 youth will face aging out of the system with the support system of a family. There is a nationwide demand for foster homes and adoptive families yet one segment of our society is discriminated against becoming foster or adoptive parent(s)…even if it is an unwritten policy.
Now do I believe in family values and the family unit? Yes I do! Yes it would be nice if every child could be raised with a mother and father in the home. However, I do not agree that only a heterosexual couple with children can be a family. Neither do I believe in what many believe what many call family values as they define them. Is it a family value to allow a child to remain with an abusive or neglectful biological family? Is it a family value to allow a child to be shuttled from one foster home to another? Is it a family value to not attempt to have a child adopted but rather placed in an institutional setting? Is it truly a family value to deny a child a stable, safe, nurturing, loving family simply because only a gay or lesbian couple (single) comes forward to adopt?
I believe the answer to each of these questions is NO!
A child needs a family. A child needs to know he or she is loved, cared for and nurtured.
Gays and lesbians can offer all of this just as easily as heterosexuals.
The decision as to whether gays or lesbians can foster or adopt should be based on the same criteria as heterosexuals. Is the person or couple capable of providing a safe, stable, nurturing and loving home for a child? Can they pass a background check and home study? If the answers to the above are yes then they should be allowed pure and simple. They should be held accountable for their actions just as heterosexuals…no more and no less!
If we as a society care about children half as much as we say we do, then we will act in the best interest of the child whether that means placement with a heterosexual or homosexual family. I would have gotten on my knees every night as a child and thanked God for a family to have called my very own and who would have called me son, heterosexual or homosexual!
The family value that should count: is the child being placed with pa person or people that will provide all that is necessary for him or her to grow up as a good and decent productive citizen. There are far too many children today needing a foster or adoptive home for us to be so close-minded and prejudiced to deny any segment of our society the privilege of caring for children. As a nation if we truly believe children are our most valuable asset, then we cannot leave any child behind and we must always act in the best interest of the child.
Let one’s actions deny them parenthood, not their sexuality!