Alan Shlemon is back to our tough questions series on Homosexuality. This week's question: Isn’t it better for a child to be adopted by a gay couple than to not be adopted at all?
I often hear this question loaded with two scenarios:
- Scenario A: The child
lives in an institution, is routinely neglected, given poor nutrition, and often
physically and sexually abused.
- Scenario B: The child
lives with two loving women who are lesbians, who have stable jobs, live in a
house, and have lots of family in the area.
question: Wouldn’t it be better for the child to be adopted by the
lesbians and grow up under scenario B?
Well, sure, I guess when you construct the options that way, who will argue with you? I
guess the child would be better off with the lesbians. So what’s that prove?
I could construct two scenarios in a different way. What if
the lesbians didn’t have a stable relationship, couldn’t keep steady jobs, experienced
domestic violence in their home, and often used drugs. The other adoptive
option was a married heterosexual couple (one a doctor and the other a
teacher), who lived in the same home for 18 years, and who had already adopted
Given those two options, wouldn’t it be better for the child
to be adopted by the heterosexual couple? Sure, but what’s that prove? That you
can construct any combination of scenarios designed to prove that a certain set
of people would be better parents.
But you don’t determine public policy based on the exception
or extreme case. For example, there might be some instances when it’s justified
to run a red light – like rushing a dying person to the emergency room – but
that doesn’t mean we should make running red lights legal. That’s bad public
It reminds me of Zach Wahls, the 19
year-old University of Iowa student who made an impassioned appeal for same-sex
marriage and parenting to the Iowa House of Representatives. His YouTube video
went viral (more than 16 million views) after he argued that his lesbian
mothers did a fine job of raising him. Maybe they did, but you can’t generalize
one’s person’s experience for an entire group of people. Just because two
homosexuals were able to raise a healthy, well-adjusted child (assuming they
did), that doesn’t mean homosexual couples – as a group – make the best parents.
Many single fathers have to raise children by themselves.
They do the best they can given their circumstances. I’m sure some of these
children will declare themselves – like Zach Wahls – to be just fine. But does
that mean we should promote single male adoption?
The real question is whether a child who needs to be adopted
is best served by a heterosexual couple or a homosexual couple – all things being equal. The question focuses
on the needs of the child, not the wants of homosexuals who are
politically motivated to normalize same-sex marriage and parenting.
The answer is straightforward: decades of published research
in psychology, social science, and medicine demonstrate that children do best
when raised by a mother and father (especially the biological parents) in a
long-term marriage.[i] That’s
because a mother and a father each provide a unique and important contribution
to their role as parents. Children who are raised – for example – in fatherless
families suffer, on average, in every measure of well-being. They have higher
levels of physical and mental illness, educational difficulties, poverty,
substance abuse, criminal behavior, loneliness, and physical and sexual abuse.[ii]
Homosexual adoption, by design, will deny a child either a
mother or father every time. By
legalizing same-sex parenting, society declares by law that mothers and fathers
are interchangeable. That means a mother offers no unique contribution to a
child. A man could provide all the benefits of a woman.
Besides being counterintuitive, this deprives a son or
daughter the distinctive benefits of being raised by both sexes.[iii]
A compassionate and moral society comes to the aid of motherless or fatherless
children. We don’t intentionally design families to deny children a mother or
father. But that’s the result of same-sex parenting.
Lesbian parent Rosie O’Donnell confessed to Diane Sawyer in
an ABC interview that her six-year-old adopted son, Parker, said, “I want to
have a daddy.” Rosie answered him, “If you were to have a daddy, you wouldn’t
have me as a mommy because I’m the kind of mommy who wants another mommy.”[iv]
Notice the attention is shifted from the needs
of children to the wants of couples. Although
Parker asked for a father, his request was trumped by Rosie’s personal desire
to be a lesbian parent.
Do Rosie and her lesbian lover know how to raise Parker to
become a man? Do they know how to teach him how to treat a woman or his future
wife? How will they be his role model?
Glenn Stanton and Bill Maier explore this idea and the
suggestion that merely two loving adults are all that’s needed to raise kids: “The
two most loving mothers in the world can’t be a father to a little boy. Love
can’t equip mothers to teach a little boy how to be a man. Likewise, the two
most loving men can’t be a mother to a child. Love does little to help a man
teach a little girl how to be a woman. Can you imagine two men guiding a young
girl through her first menstrual cycle or helping her through the awkwardness
of picking out her first bra? Such a situation might make for a funny
television sitcom but not a very good real-life situation for a young girl.”[v]
And these are just a few of the absurdities that arise when you jettison the commonsense
notion that men and women are both unique and valuable in their role as
Same-sex parenting doesn’t make sense and that is why it must
be forced on the people by the state. Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse explains: “Marriage
between men and women is a pre-political, naturally emerging social
institution. Men and women come together to create children, independently of
any government...By contrast, same-sex ‘marriage’ is completely a creation of
the state. Same-sex couples cannot have children. Someone must give them a
child or at least half the genetic material to create a child. The state must
detach the parental rights of the opposite-sex parent and then attach those
rights to the second parent of the same-sex couple. The state must create
parentage for the same-sex couple. For the opposite-sex couple, the state
merely recognizes parentage.”[vi]
The price of homosexual adoption is too high. For it to work,
the state must redefine marriage, create parentage laws for homosexual couples,
and deny the unique role that mothers and fathers play. In the end, children
lose and we lose. Children are harmed, which in the end affects everyone in our
culture. For this reason, I believe even homosexuals
should oppose homosexual adoption.
Think Christianly with Jonathan Morrow
[i] This is
supported by multiple studies including Mary Parke, “Are Married Parents Really
Better for Children?” Center for Law and
Social Policy, Policy Brief, May 2003, p. 1, and Kristin Anderson Moore et
al., “Marriage From a Child’s Perspective: How Does Family Structure Affect
Children, and What Can We Do about It?” Child
Trends Research Brief, June 2002, p. 1.
[ii] Much of
this research is referenced in David Popenoe, Life Without Father (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996).
[iii] See Yale
Medical School’s Dr. Kyle Pruett, Fatherneed:
Why Father Care Is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child (New York:
Free Press, 2000), 17-34.
[iv] PrimeTime Thursday, March 14, 2002.
[v] Glenn T.
Stanton and Bill Maier, Marriage on
Trial: The Case Against Same-sex Marriage and Parenting (Downers Grove, IL:
InterVarsity Press, 2004), 71.
Labels: Alan Shlemon, Christianity, same sex marriage, Tough Questions - Homosexuality