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Gay and Lesbian Adoption: What is the best interest of the child?

Most critics of gay adoption argue that if a child is brought up in a home with same sex parents that the child will be "ruined". However, most child welfare advocates do not agree, they feel that if these orphaned children are not allowed to be adopted by gay and lesbian parents, a lot of children who have been waiting for a very long time to be adopted and are in desperate need of a home, may have to wait even longer, unnecessarily. In 2003 alone there were 123,249 children waiting to be adopted in out-of-home care. While in foster care there were 47,696 children. Of all these children that await a family, should the law continually determine the fate of these children based on politics. Or is it in the best interest of the child to place them in a loving and stable home, even if it is a gay or lesbian household? In my research of this topic I hope to answer this question.

Gay and Lesbian Adoption and the Law

Every state enacts a different approach to the adoption of a child. Specifically where gay and lesbian adoption is concerned, currently there are no uniform standards across states regarding adoption by gay men and lesbians. Florida is the only state that explicitly prohibits single and coupled gay men and lesbians from becoming adoptive parents. While gays and lesbians are able to become foster parents in Florida, it specifically bans them from becoming adoptive parents. The Florida law, enacted in 1977, states that: "No person eligible to

adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual."( Retreived on March 27,2006 from http://writ.news.findlaw.com/grossman/20050112.html).

There have been several, unsuccessful attempts in Florida to repeal the ban on gay adoption, most recently in March 2005 the ACLU attempted to petition the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, however the court declined to hear the challenge to the law. The court did not offer any explanation on why it refused to hear the case.

Although 49 states allow consideration of a gay or lesbian person as an adoptive parent, only four states,California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and the District of Columbia permit joint adoption by lesbian or gay couples (LetHimStay, 2002). Most other states determine who can and cannot adopt on a case-by-case basis, using local and state laws. Therefore in most states a great deal of public child welfare agencies are able to consider gay men and lesbians as potential adoptive parents. However, Utah and Arkansas have instituted policies that specifically exclude gays and lesbians from adoption, very similar to the Florida ban. Similar measures have been considered in Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas (Appell, 2001; Ferrero, Freker, & Foster, 2002; Riggs). The most recent controversy involving same sex adoption erupted when the Vatican announced that same sex adoption is "gravely immoral" and is meant to do harm to children.

Studies of Children of Homosexual Parents

The policies that these states currently utilize continue to ignore the evidence that the traditional family ideaology doesn't guarantee success for the adopted child. Studies have shown that for adoption, success depends solely on the background, personalities, and life experience of the parents involved, whether they are straight or gay. In an interview with CBS news Ellen C. Perrin noted Professor of Psychology at Tufts University stated: "The vast consensus of all the studies shows that children of same-sex parents do as well as children whose parents are heterosexual in every way, in some ways children of same-sex parents actually may have advantages over other family structures." Her studies done from 1981 to 1994, including 260 children reared by either heterosexual mothers or same-sex mothers after divorce, found no differences in intelligence, psychiatric disorders, self-esteem, overall well-being, peer relationships and most importantly couple relationships.

In the United States alone, there are millions of people with one or more lesbian, gay parent. While research shows that there are no significant developmental differences or negative affects on children of LGBT parents, sadly these youth do report facing significantly more prejudice and discrimination because mainly due to the myths that society believes in association with the gay and lesbian lifestyle. (Retrieved from http://www.colage.org/research/facts.html#facts March 20, 2006) Most children confess that their schools are the main place where they

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