Same Sex Adoption: Is There a Right or Wrong?
The dubious history of the heredity environment controversy can be easily traced as far back as the start of the present century with at least some historical evidence placing the roots of this dispute in the time of John Locke - Same Sex Adoption: Is There a Right or Wrong? introduction. This controversy has continued despite continual reiteration that the critical question is not how much of a trait is due to heredity and how much is due to environment, but rather how environment transact to influence development. ” (Wachs, 1983, p. 86).
The relative powers of nature and nurture have been actively pursued by psychologists and biologists striving to determine how heredity and environment influence the development of intelligence. Are parents those who give birth to a child or those who care for a child? Does nature or nurture make a woman a mother? As more and more heartbreaking tugs-of-war between biological and adoptive parents surface, anyone searching for a baby has good reason for concern (Casey 119).
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Baby Jessica was raised from infancy by adoptive parents, Jan and Roberta DeBoer. For two and a half years Jessica was at the heart of one of the most bitter custody battles in America, caught between the parents in Michigan who reared her and the parents in Iowa who gave birth to her and wanted her back (Ingrassia 60). Cara and Dan Schmidt took screaming baby Jessica from her home in 1993 when they won their court battle to get her back (Casey 119). Baby Jessica is just one of the many victims of child custody battles in America.
January 23, 2000 marked the twenty-seventh anniversary of the Roe v. Wade case. It all started out in a small town in Texas where a woman under the alias Jane Roe filed a case in district court for a woman’s right to choose abortion. At this time law in Texas prohibited abortion. Eventually the case moved to Supreme Court. The attorneys for Roe argued that the law was unfair and unjust. They said that the unborn fetus is not a real person. They pointed out that a woman should have the right to control their own life and body.
They said it was a right of privacy and if women fell that it’s the right choice to abort a baby they should be allowed to make it. They also said that women should be able to abort a baby if the birth of the baby would endanger the life of the mother or the baby; they should have a right to abort it. They also argued that women have fundamental right to abortion (Martian 40). Despite the number of laws passed or the numerous movies or television shows that support gay rights, the negative conations associated with same-sex parent adoption continue to taint both attitudes and laws.
Society is still laden with negative biases against homosexual adoption, and against gays in general (Johnson, et al. , 1995) which severely limits their rights as people and as parents. Social control, of which both labeling theory and the justice system are a part, is supposed to be about following a reasonable standard. In cases of unfair treatment levied against individuals because they are gay or lesbian, this reasonable standard is dropped and the issue becomes less one of discretion and more one of discrimination.
Many states and institutions (localities, etc. ) have progressive laws regarding discrimination along the lines of sexual orientation, but these territories are in the minority, and a federalized program is wanted that ensures that the practice of discrimination against gays and lesbians only because of their sexual orientation does not continue to be legally sanctioned by the government. In many states, gay couples enjoy domestic partnership rights that fall short of the rights given to married couples, but nonetheless represent progressive steps forward.
While society or sectors of society may regard parenting by gay couples with suspicion, there is no convincing scientific evidence to suggest that children raised by same-sex parents suffer any serious deficits or are deviant in any sense. (Hulbert, A. 2004) In truth much of the evidence points to the fact that children raised by gay parents are in some ways more balanced and resilient. There is also no evidence to suggest that children reared by same-sex partners are less intelligent or more likely to have problems than children of straight parents.
However, there are many prejudicial views against same-sex parents and the adoption of children. Relationships between adolescents and their parents frequently are characterized by conflict and disharmony. The character of such relationships may be characterized by even greater turmoil when the child is adopted. Among a sample of 90 adolescents (aged 14-to-21 years old), Lahti (1993, pp. 67-74) found the 18. 9 percent of the adolescent subjects suffered for problems at a neurotic level, and that an additional 13. 3 percent of the subjects suffered from more severe disorders.
However, it must be addressed that, to a large extent, this is an unknown area because the baby boom is still very young. There aren’t enough same-sex adoptions to be a representative sample. While my guess is that having parents who are of the same sex won’t be the major focus in an adolescent’s life, it will still subject that individual to teasing and homophobic reactions from his/her peers. (Martin) In addition, while state laws are changing, many states are still being influenced by homophobia. Therefore, legally, same-sex couples can adopt, but many will be denied the opportunity anyway.
Only recently has it become more normal for same-sex couples to adopt children and it is impossible to draw accurate conclusions on the long-term effects same-sex adoption will have on children. A monolithic and highly distorted view of the family has been perpetrated by the mass media, which has completely obscured the emerging variations and alternatives to the conception of a traditional nuclear family. The context of gay and lesbian adoption has been one of bias and unfairness, haphazard and inconsistent policy, and of myths and assumptions informing policy rather than concrete evidence.
Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals regularly have encountered discrimination in the legal system, the child welfare system, and in their experiences with adoption agencies. However, most birth parents now are far from this picture. Most birth mothers are in their 20s and 30s. Most of them are already parents, who are struggling to make ends meet. Many are married immigrants, who are working two jobs to send money for children left behind in their native countries.
What they have in common, observes Judith Freedman of the Massachusetts-based Jewish Family and Children’s Service, is that most of them do not believe in abortion, and that all of them love their child (Keva). Typical birth parents include Joe Polenzani and his girlfriend, who faced the dilemma of an unplanned pregnancy when they were in college. Both did not believe in abortion, and were leery of the old adoption system which severely terminated the role of birth parents. The study of adoption is very important as it influences millions of lives in the United States, who are an element of the adoption process.
For instance, the birth parents who put their children for adoption; the children who are adopted; and the parents who adopt children. It is also believed that adoption influences approximately 3% of Americans who initially think of adoption but later on decide against it. For instance, Allen P. Fisher (2003) writes, “Adoption is certainly a very common occurrence in the United States and in much of the world today. No official and complete counts of adoptions exist, but estimates are that about 4% of Americans are adopted; about half of these have been adopted by persons not related to them by birth. Allen goes on to write, “A recent national survey of 1416 Americans found that nearly two thirds of the respondents (64%) had a personal experience with adoption, meaning that someone in their family or among their close friends had been adopted, had adopted a child, or had placed a child for adoption (Allen P. Fisher 2003). ”
The proponents of adoption are of the view that instead of playing God, the decision-maker must first critically and closely analyze the issue from the moralistic point of view if reviewing the dilemma being faced from the spiritual or medical perspective is not possible.
The pro-life group staunchly believes that opting for abortion instead of adoption is taking away an innocent life, without ever having to consider the insatiable thirst of childless parents who cannot have children due to infertility and sterility (Larimore, 1997). Thus, the proponents of adoption are of the opinion that abortion is not just depriving a developing child of his own dear life but it is also depriving countless couples out there who cannot have their own children but long to adopt and bring-up otherwise unwanted children.
They also believe that aborting a fetus is like ‘killing or murdering” an innocent life (Larimore, 1997). Depending upon the age and maturity of the individual, experiences influence the personality in different ways, and the experiences and emotional relationships that exist in early childhood have effects that are incorporated into the “very structure of the personality” (Clothier). According to Clothier, experiences and relationships after the oedipal development may mold or modify the presenting or external personality, yet their effects are generally not incorporated or built into the personality (Clothier).
In the early years, the external environment combines with constitutional factors to determine personality, and then later, through the influence of education, environment and experience modify personality manifestation, “even to the extent of creating the person we think we know” (Clothier). Although analogies are unsatisfactory, Clothier points out that in the construction of the personality, “constitution provides the basic metal, infantile emotional relationships and experiences add alloys and temper the metal, and childhood education and environment provide the superstructure, facade, and the paint” (Clothier).
The implication of this for the psychology of the adopted child are extremely significant, for a child who is placed with adoptive parents at birth or soon after, misses the mutual and satisfying mother-child relationship, “the roots of which lie in that deep area of the personality where the physiological and the psychological are merged” (Clothier).
For the child and the biological mother, this period is part of the biological sequence, and it is doubted as to whether the relationship of the child to its postpartum mother can be replaced by even the best of substitute mothers because these subtle effects lie so deeply buried in the personality that it is impossible to evaluate them (Clothier). The adopted infant cannot experience the satisfaction of the nursing period with his or her substitute mother; however the child will experience his or her first important socializing relationship (Clothier).
In addition, the child has a right to have a natural family, and a mother and father. Due to divorce, this family deprivation has already hit America like no other war, disease, or problem before. Should this unnatural family life continue or be extended and even encouraged by homosexual couples adopting? Social researcher David Blankenhorn, author of Fatherless America, declared, “Fatherlessness is the ‘engine driving’ social pathologies such as crime, adolescent pregnancy, child sexual abuse, and violence against women.
Research confirms that the domestic environment most favorable to the well being of children has both a mother and a father (Gay Adoption 40). Despite the court rulings and societies’ opinions, gays and lesbians are acquiring children. Whether it is from a previous heterosexual marriage that went badly, artificial insemination, an agreement between a gay and lesbian, or co-parent adoption, gays and lesbians will continue to fight for their rights and find ways to create a family of their own.
The most effective way that seems to meet everyone’s needs is co-parent adoption. Perhaps the states that allow co-parent adoption will be more likely to allow complete gay and lesbian adoption rights in the future. This hypothesis seems very probably. Studies are constantly being done to attempt to find the effects on the children of these families. Results of these types of studies vary. It is hard to make accurate assumptions based on the fact that many gay and lesbian families live in secret.
We are on the right track with gaining acceptance of homosexual lifestyles, but society still has a long way to go. In my opinion there are four things that must be taken into account when considering the issue from a non-biased stand point one, the rights of the gays and lesbians two, the rights of the child three, the way society will treat the child and four, the psychological effects on the child.