Hundreds of thousands of children in the United States and around the world await adoption each year. Recently, more and more of these children are being adopted by same-sex couples, and sometimes by individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT). This has caused some controversy, as there are those who feel that only traditional homes should be allowed to adopt. Despite this opposition, gay adoption is a growing reality around the world.
What is Gay Adoption?
Though "gay adoption" traditionally conjures up images of male couples, the issue--more appropriately termed LGBT adoption--concerns adoption by homosexual individuals or couples of either gender, as well as any individual or couple with "outside the norm" gender/sexual proclivities.
History of Gay Adoption
Gay adoption has only become an issue in the latter half of the 20th century, as more homosexuals chose to live openly, pursue permanent relationships and begin families, and as homosexuality itself has gained acceptance. Prior to that, homosexuals were perceived as sexual deviants, mentally disturbed or even criminal, and a child would never be knowingly placed with a gay man or woman.
Occurrence of Gay Adoption
While it is difficult to compile hard numbers, studies have indicated that gay adoption is fairly prevalent. A 2003 study found that more than half of U.S. adoption agencies, for example, would consider same-sex couples, and that two-fifths of them had placed children in gay homes. These adoptions have occurred in nearly half the states in America, as well as the District of Columbia.
Legality of Gay Adoption
In the United States, gay adoption is legal in every state, unless specific laws are passed to prevent it. As of 2009, only three states, Florida, Mississippi and Utah, have laws that expressly forbid either homosexual or unmarried couples from adopting. Since most states do not allow gay marriage, however, same-sex couples have to utilize the lesser joint adoption or second parent laws, which are more complicated but generally carry the same benefits in the end.
Opponents of Gay Adoption
Those opposed to gay adoption argue that children are best raised in a traditional family home with both a mother and a father. They cite studies that show the better adjustment of children raised in traditional homes over those raised in single-parent or other nontraditional homes (though not specifically against same-sex homes). Some opponents also claim that same-sex homes will encourage homosexuality in children. A few even express fears that homosexual parents are more likely to sexually abuse their children.
Supporters of Gay Adoption
Those in favor of gay adoption point out that there is no definable difference in the parenting skills of a gay or lesbian parent and a heterosexual parent, nor in the quality of love and attention a gay parent can provide. They also point out that a loving home of any kind is preferable to a child languishing in the adoption system (hundreds of thousands of children remain unadopted each year). Finally, supporters point out that fears of increased homosexuality or even sexual abuse are just that, fears, unsupported by any facts.