Sexuality and Gender

Should Homosexual Couples Be Allowed to Adopt?

Author Alan Shlemon Published on 05/10/2012

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.
  • The 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? Nothing.

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 a child.

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 policy.

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 parents.

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.

[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.