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Op-ed: Should Same-sex Couples Be Eligible to Adopt?

One of the most discussed issues in the last few months has been marriage equality among gay and lesbian couples. This ongoing battle between those who advocate for marriage equality and those who strongly oppose it by offering various counterarguments has caught the interest of many people, including myself.
 
More specifically, while watching this historic and ongoing debate, I could not help but go a step further and think about whether these same-sex couples should have the right to create their own family of choice and be eligible to adopt children. In order to come to a conclusion, or at least have a better idea about the issue, one needs to look at the research that has been conducted throughout the years about the same-sex parenting and its effect on the children.

(Photos provided by Het-Heru Sloan)


Same-Sex Couples Should Be Eligible to Adopt Children
Many people believe that gay and lesbian couples should have the right to form their own families because what matters the most is not the parents’ sexual orientations but whether the children grow up in a loving and caring environment. These families should be able to give children roles and values that they would internalize until they would become part of their identity.
 
According to the WebMD Health News article,“Study: Same-Sex Parents Raise Well-Adjusted Kids,” same-sex parental households can offer their children affection and a sense of belonging, and “these children do not necessarily have differences in self-esteem, gender identity, or emotional problems from children growing up in heterosexual parent homes.
 
Besides that, a team of researchers from the University of Virginia and George Washington University conducted a study about same-sex parenting that further supports this claim. As the writer Lisa Belkin of a New York Times article, “An End to Gay-Adoption Bans?” reports a study focused on preschoolers who were adopted at their birth by 27 lesbian couples, 29 gay couples, and 50 heterosexual couples.
 
The results confirmed that “it is the quality of the parenting that creates a psychologically healthy child” and not the parents’ sexual preferences.

In order to conclude whether they should adopt or not, it would be helpful to look at what Abbie E. Goldberg suggests in her book “Lesbian and gay men as parents.” According to her, children of homosexual families are experiencing significant “parental warmth and support.” More specifically, a study in Goldberg book shows that lesbian mothers engage in “less frequent physical discipline,” such as smacking, and in a “more frequent domestic and imaginative play with their children”.

However, gay fathers tend to set more consistent boundaries for their children’s behavior and have stricter rules that they are willing to explain and discuss with them. The above study proves that homosexual people should be eligible to adopt because they are able to provide children with love, socialize them, and create quality and satisfactory relationships with their children. This will enable them to feel like equal members of societyand to develop positive relationships with peers.

Same-Sex Couples Should Not Be Eligible to Adopt Children
 
However, there are people who fail to see the significance of children growing up in an affectionate household, and who view gay and lesbian people as a threat to traditional family values, so they exclude them from ideas about family and parenting.
 
These views stem from their heterosexism and traditional concepts of gender roles and prompt them to claim that the stigma and victimization homosexual individuals experience as a result of their sexual orientation might have a negative impact on their children.  
 
Many people argue that “children with minority parents” may strive to present themselves as “successful, psychologically healthy, and heterosexual” and hide any personal challenges, such as anger at their parents and depression “because of the pressures of proving how normal they are”. Some of them take the issue a step further and argue that homosexual children who grow up in a same-sex family might “play it straight” and be “hesitant, or even fearful” to publicly reveal their sexual identities.
 
This secrecy and unconscious guilt can result from fears of societal rejection and children’s unwillingness to confirm the stereotype that “gay parents raise gay kids” (Kaufman and Dundas 170) These two instances can lead people to fear that social intolerance against gay parents will prevent these children from growing up in a healthy and acceptable way.
 
Others offer another barrier to lesbian and gay parenting by saying that some lesbian or gay couples may discover that the other partner is not equally committed to parenting. They argue homosexual people have a more difficult transition through the developmental stages of life due to negative cultural biases, and this might stay with them through their adulthood and influence their ability to be responsible and affectionate caregivers.
 
More specifically, couples might decide to adopt a child but soon see that the other partner is not equally committed to the idea and this might have negative implications on the child’s psychological and personality development. Children might then struggle to accept the deviancy of their families, become more introverted, promiscuous and confused, and feel uncomfortable when they are around many people because of the belief that these people reject their families’ structures.     

    
 
Conclusion
 
After presenting both perspectives of the issue, it becomes obvious that our society needs to reexamine the definition of family and the new ones “must be developed to protect the children in them. The new definition must place more emphasis on the concepts of love, affection, and nurture and not on the sexual orientation of parents.
 
People need to focus more on the essential functions a family must fulfill. These are to produce and socialize children, to serve as a unit of economic cooperation, to assign roles, and to provide intimacy to its members. The criteria based on which someone should be considered eligible for adoption and hence eligible to be called a parent should be the willingness of this person to meet the requirements of parenthood.
 
“I think that gay people should be eligible to adopt children because sexual orientation has nothing to do with child rearing,” sophomore sociology major Kevin San Buenaventura said. “Gay couples are just as capable of being as good parents as any other heterosexual couples, and their sexual orientation should have nothing to do with their eligibility to raise children,” San Buenaventura said.
 
Lets not allow people’s homophobia and heteronormativity to blind us, and lets focus on the issue that is at stake: to give to all the children who are waiting to be adopted the right to live in a friendly and nurturing household.

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