Homosexual Couples and Adoption

Alan explains why adoption policies should be approached with the general best interest of children in mind rather than letting rare circumstances dictate.


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Shouldn’t a homosexual couple be allowed to adopt a child when the alternative is the child is left abandoned? I’ve gotten this question in various forms over the years, and here are the two scenarios that I'm usually presented with: Scenario 1 is the child is abandoned and eventually put in an institution. At that institution they're oftentimes neglected, physically abused, and sexually abused. Scenario 2 is that the child is adopted by a loving lesbian couple who has a single-family home, a large backyard that's fenced-in, stable jobs, they're well-educated, and they have lots of family around in the neighborhood. Then I'm asked, “Given those two scenarios, which would be better for the child?”

Of course, given those two alternatives, who would argue that it wouldn’t be better for the child to be with the loving lesbian couple? Obviously it would be much better that they be with them rather than in an institution where the child is abused physically, sexually, and treated horribly. So, what does that prove? Does that prove that we should have a policy that homosexuals should be able to adopt? No, it doesn't prove that. Why not? Because we don't make public policy based on the exceptions or based on extreme cases.

For example, you might be able to argue that it will be morally permissible to run a red light in order to get your son or daughter to a hospital if they happen to be bleeding. If you don't get the to the hospital within the next five or ten minutes, they’ll bleed to death. You might say it was permissible for you to run those red lights, so does that mean that we should make running red lights a policy for the public so that they’ll be able to do that? No, of course not. The reason is because we don't make public policy based on exceptions to the rule.

The real question we want to ask is, if the child needs to be adopted, what would be the best situation for them to be adopted into? Would it be that a heterosexual couple or a homosexual couple, given all things being equal, would adopt them? Not taking these two cases and making extreme cases either way, but rather saying all things being equal, which is better for a child – to be adopted by heterosexuals or by homosexuals?

When it comes to this question, notice the question is focused on the needs of the child, not on the wants of homosexual couples who obviously have a vested interest in seeing homosexual adoption being permitted in our country. When this question is asked, I think it's self-evident that anytime you have homosexual adoption, a child will be denied either their mother or their father or both, in every instance in which a homosexual couple adopts a child. We have literally decades of research in social science, medicine, sociology, and all sorts of places that show children do best when they're raised by their mother and their father – in a long-term monogamous relationship, of course – but they are best served when they're raised by a mother and a father. 

So, if we know that's what's best for them, we would make a policy based on what we know to be best and ideal for children. This is, by the way, why I would argue that single people should not be allowed to adopt. It would be for the same reason because a mother or a father by themself is not as ideal as a situation in which you have a father and a mother together. Again, we're basing our public policy decisions not based on exceptions to the rule, but rather on the general principle that we know serves the needs of children best.

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Alan Shlemon