Should Gays/Lesbians be Foster/Adoptive Parents?

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!

12 Responses

  1. […] insider’s view and commentary on Gays and Lesbians who wish to adopt or foster parent. Excerpt: “As a child, if a family had come forward and allowed (sic) to adopt me, I would […]

  2. I have many homosexual friends. The only person whose sexual desires matter to me is my husband. I don’t interact sexually with anyone else, so what does it matter? My choir at church is probably more gay than straight. Who CARES? We’re singing and praying, not sleeping with one another, and we’re a loving family! I know more loving, stable, committed, long-term homosexual relationships than I do heterosexual relationships. And to be honest, I have to say I know many more abusive heterosexual jerks than I do homosexual jerks.

    All that being said, I guess it really comes down to the fact that the word homosexual does not equal the word pedophile.

  3. It is disturbing that the problems with the foster care system around the country are often ignored, while the political debate of whether gays and lesbians should be foster and adoptive parents gets the most attention. It is a sad state of affairs, made sadder by the fact that so many kids languish in the system without much hope of finding a permanent home. I think that most States have no problem letting us be foster parents because they are so desperate. But when it comes to adoption, that seems to cut a little too close to the whole marriage debate. If we let them have children, what’s to stop them from pushing for more rights as a family?

    By the way, thanks for the encouragement in our quest to become adoptive fathers. We continue to move through the process. I plan to also write something regarding my feelings about being gay and being an adoptive father. It’s something I have spent a lot of time thinking about.

  4. I agree with you 100%! To think that there are children out there with no family to call their own because someone isn’t allowed to adopt based on their sexual preference pains me! It is absurd and it only hurts the children. Children need love and a family. I am a foster parent and these kids just need someone to call their own. Gay, straight, married ,single it doesn’t matter. They just need a family.

  5. I could not agree more. In fact, I have uttered similar sentiments over and over, though less eloquently. Why let kids be abused and neglected by straight people who do not really care about them (as you, I and countless others have been) when there are gay couples who are FIGHTING for the opportunity to be parents? Why not license the families who will love kids and care for them and pull the licenses of the ones who never should have been allowed to have them in the first place? Sounds like a novel concept.

    Coincidentally, I grew up in and around Council Bluffs, just across the river from Boys Town.

  6. I hope you have reconected with your birth mother, I am a mother and I believe she did what she sincerly thought was in your best interest!

    I had a child at 18 and when we had no lights, no money and nothing to eat or had to move for the umteenth time, the thought crossed my mind that he would be better off with a loving able family.

    I wouldn’t know of the abuses foster children suffer until 25 years later, I’m sure your mother had no clue.

    Louise

  7. As a foster child, birthmother, and lesbian… (wow talking about terms to mix up anyone), I totally agree that gays/lesbians should be allowed to foster/adopt. I had a foster couple who were gay and they were friggen awesome!

    Anyways… nice to see another speaking out🙂

  8. Any person who can and wants to be a good parent should. These kids need homes. They need families.

  9. well i think that u are right . these kids do need homes, if they were to put a ban on LGBT people to not adopt there would would be thousands of kids out there without homes and without parents to love and care for them. It dosen’t matter what sex u choose to be with, anyone can love and care for a child that’s just how i feel. Thanks for giving me some info for my essay, this is something i feel very strongly about anything i can do to help let me know. love always Ashleigh Gordon 17 of columbus ohio

  10. I agree…Like we need to be focused on the children. If a 2 men or 2 women want to adopt a child let them. One it is none of the govements or the courts business it a they are gay or not. If they aint having intercourse with the judge or the senotor or the representitive then its none of their business. I have a gay friend and he has tried to adopt and they asked me questions about him and his background. I think it is unfair the gay and lesbian community for people to be so noisey and not let them adopt or foster a child that needs the love. If a gay or lesbian family can keep one kid from going to the streets and turning bad then let them. God said do not judge others no matter what they be….People seem to forget that but they can remember God created Adam and Eve.. Its not fair at all.

  11. I thoroughly agree with all you said here. By the way, I am going to try and find your book, read it and add it to my meager library.

    Lisa

  12. Hi Prairie Guy-
    It’s been a long time and we never did have coffee (remember?) The winter/spring of 2008-2009 turned out to be a terrible time for me and for my son, but both of us doing better these days. I did manage to be involved in CW reform enough to help pass a bill to get the ND legislature to study creating an ombudsman program (for bio parents, foster youth, and yes foster parents, at least that’s how I would see it) and there should be a bill next session to start a program.

    There’s a family I have had contact with since 2007 when the oldest boy (out of 3) was in care for a year. His mom was diagnosed with breast cancer–stage 4–while he was in foster care. Last summer she became very ill and kids were taken, she went into hosp and then a nursing home–unbelievably, for four months the county was also charging her with felony neglect. The oldest will be 18 Sept 9. I attended the last perm plan meeting June 17,. They asked tghe 17-yo “what are your plans?” He said gee, considering my mom is in a nursing home and my dad is in jail (dad looks to be a lost cause, he made some short-lived attempts to be involved with social services but then another DUI. . . ). This 17-year-old has never had fully functional parents. Mom has always had the load in terms of making sure the basic needs were taken care of, but given the absolute poverty of this family she couldn’t do much more, and I have always thoughts she had some mild cognitive or psychiatric impairments. The 17-yo has gotten into some trouble off and on, para possession and such. His dad drinks, gambles, sleeps on a buddy’s couch, and works when he’s not in jail. The 17-yo sees himself as having always taken care of himself but really does not have the skills for real survival. He figures he will get a job and move in with his dad–and even my own son, who is definitely not a conformist sort himself, thinks that’s not a good idea. The 17 yo has been moved from the foster home (a farm near Valley City) to the DBR Safe Home in Fargo and does get a passes up to 3 hours (how odd, he’s 6 weeks from legal adulthood, what exactly is the point of such control???). I asked social services abt housing assistance, they said you can;t apply until 18 and there are no fast-track programs for kids leaving foster care. OTOH I have had too many social workers tell me they don’t know how things like housing programs weork because they are so complicated and always change. These people just seem vapid to me. They obviously don’t *care*, they mostly go thru the motions. Hoping my son and I can encourage the kid to stay in touch at least. . .but it is clear too that kids see connection where they can, and even if dad is a lost cause the kid still wants to identify himself as having a dad. .. I can’t imagine what it would be like to face legal adulthood with nothing. . . weird too that social services has continued to state “reunification” for the goal for the younger kids–6 and 11. Excuse me???? Mom has a 15% chance of surviving as long as 2012, has cancer in her brain, in her spleen, in her liver, in her bones. Dad has 3 felonies (child neglect and such) and a pile of misdemeanors (DUI’s, illegal fishing, disorderly, etc). No sign Dad has EVER taken more than a smidgen of responsibility for the kids, mom’s dr. describes him as mom’s 4th child and mom tends to agree but endures it. It is clear as daylight to me the younger kids will be placed for adoption. BECAUSE mom is still alive and coherent, I think this ultimate process should be acknowledged and her given the dignity of contributing to plans for the kids’ future–including, perhaps, helping decide who the kids’ ultimate parents will be. But that’s difficult, and social services doesn’t have the time for what is really difficult. Pushing paper they do have time for. Although her passivity has contributed in some ways to the situation–the system LIKES her being passive, it makes their work easier.

    Any thoughts on my rant?

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