Homosexual adoption

Posted: Mar 18, 2002 12:00 AM
The adoption system in this country is broken. Thousands of kids languish in substandard facilities that lack the resources to properly educate and nurture them, thus perpetuating the cycle of underachievement. OK, so far I'm in agreement. Then: One possible solution is to open adoption up to homosexual couples. So said the Rosie backers during my recent appearance on CNN's "Talk Back Live" with Rev. Jerry Falwell. My response was straightforward: The manner in which two adults treat their bodies - whether hurling themselves at life, members of the same sex, the horizon, etc.-is a matter between them and their creator. However, it is another thing to use children as instruments to push alternative lifestyles into the mainstream. And that is precisely what advocates of gay adoption are doing. A brief lesson in perspective: History, social-science research and all three religions tend to agree that a loving union between man and woman provides the bedrock for a child's emotional health. I say this not out of fear or loathing of the homosexual lifestyle, but merely to point out that raising a child requires more than love or money. A child requires emotional consistency, gender stability and self-esteem. (The jails and madhouses are crammed full with emotionally confused kids who came from seemingly well-off suburban neighborhoods.) For an adoptive child, establishing an identity that meshes with social convention is essential to constructing a healthy sense of self. To abruptly break with social convention by placing the child in a homosexual household can create the sort of gender confusion and social scrutiny that ignites a lifetime of emotional confusion. Consider: Studies indicate that children in homosexual households are four times more likely to test the extremes of their own sexuality by experimenting with homosexual behavior. Now consider that the highest suicide rate in this country is amongst homosexual teen-agers. Plainly, the social pressures associated with this sort of gender confusion are tremendous - that is the reality that confronts us. To subject adoptive children to this sort of emotional trauma by design is worst than misguided, it amounts to martyring a large segment of adoptive children, just to make a cultural statement about homosexual rights. Nonetheless, advocates for homosexual rights continue to place themselves at the center of adoption law in this country. Their justification: that the eroding nuclear family - through divorce and the general liberalization of the culture - has precipitated a change in traditional social structures. They have a point, they simply miss it. The crucial issue is not whether traditional social structures are changing, but whether embracing these changes is in the best interest of adoptive children. Get it? Adoption law ought not to be about cultural statements in general or gay rights in the specific; it ought to be about the best interest of the children. While debate regarding homosexual rights has its place in the national dialogue, such issues are not central to the issue of adoption. What is central to the debate is a proper understanding of cultural norms and how they influence our sense of self. Or, more to the point, how common law, common sense, history and science all tell us that the very nature of a homosexual relationship deprives a child of the emotionally stable environment that he or she requires. While I am deeply sensible about the need to place adoptive children with families, this need does not justify placing adoptive children in ANY home. Nor, for that matter, does it justify risking the emotional well-being of adoptive children, just to make a political statement about homosexual rights.