Dangers of Same-Sex Couples Adopting Children (Part 1)

Dale O'Leary on the Risks

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PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island, NOV. 4, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Despite the large number of securely married people waiting to adopt children, same-sex couples are often regarded as desirable adoptive parents with equal qualifications.



So says Dale O'Leary, a writer and researcher for the Catholic Medical Association.

She shared with ZENIT how adoption agencies have disregarded evidence that persons with same-sex attractions are far more likely to suffer from psychological disorders than the general public, and how those risk factors can negatively affect children.

Part 2 of this interview will appear Friday.

Q: What is the growth trend of children being adopted by same-sex couples or individuals with same-sex attractions?

O'Leary: I do not have any research showing this, but the anecdotal evidence suggests a dramatic increase in such adoptions.

Recently, I spoke with a woman who has adopted a number of special needs children and is extremely active in the adoption movement. She said that she has observed a dramatic increase in adoptions by same-sex couples.

She believes that the social workers in the adoption field are disproportionately homosexual themselves or are extremely sympathetic to homosexual adoptions and are directing children to same-sex couples, when there are married heterosexual couples available. She is extremely concerned about this trend.

I asked how could so many same-sex couples qualify, given the evidence that persons with same-sex attractions are far more likely to suffer from psychological and other problems than married heterosexual couples. She replied that it appeared to her that many of the same-sex couples who adopted had psychological and other problems that would have disqualified a married man and woman from adoption.

This, of course, is only anecdotal evidence, but well-designed studies that compare persons with same-sex attractions with the general public have found that persons with same-sex attractions are far more likely to suffer from psychological disorders.

A same-sex couple has, by definition, two persons at high risk for psychological disorders. The studies published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that persons self-identified as homosexual in comparison to the general public had almost double the rate of suicidal ideation or attempts, substance abuse problems and psychological disorders. One of the studies found that 78.6% of the gay, lesbian or bisexual group suffered from multiple disorders.

And there are other problems: Domestic violence is more common among same-sex couples. Men with same-sex attractions are more likely to become infected with a STD, including HIV, hepatitis or HPV, which can lead to cancer. Thus, several studies suggest that 50% of men who have sex with men will become HIV positive before age 50.

Any of these problems would negatively affect an adopted child. When dealing with married heterosexual couples, agencies have been extremely strict in ruling out couples with risk factors, yet seem to be ignoring real risk when evaluating same-sex couples who want to adopt.

Consider the consequences of giving a special needs child or a child with an attachment disorder -- something that is very common among children adopted from orphanages overseas -- to a couple where one or both suffer from a psychological disorder or substance abuse problem.

There should be an investigation into whether social workers are giving vulnerable children to same-sex couples who would not otherwise be qualified and the long-term consequences of these adoptions.

Q: Would children linger unloved in foster care if not placed with a same-sex couple?

O'Leary: Given the increase in infertility due to late marriage and the consequences of the pandemic of STDs, the number of securely married couples who want to adopt is very high. Due to abortion and the acceptance of single motherhood, the number of healthy babies being released for adoption is very low.

Therefore, since the demand overwhelming exceeds the supply, agencies should have no problems finding a virtually perfect placement for every healthy baby released at birth by the mother.

There is no reason for choosing a second-best placement, and adoption by a same-sex couple is by definition second-best, since it deprives the child of a parent of one sex and all the experiences that having a father and a mother provides.

Because there are so few healthy newborns available for adoption, the number of securely married couples who will consider a baby with some health problems or an older child has also increased dramatically.

Most children in foster care have not been adopted because their biological parents have refused to release them for adoption or because the courts have not terminated parental custody. These parents and their children cling to hope that the situations that lead to them being placed in foster care will change and the family reunited.

Reform in the foster care system is certainly called for, but placing already deeply wounded children with same-sex couples is not the solution.

Because of the shortage of babies and available older children, many couples choose foreign adoption. Persons with same-sex attractions often do not inform the country from which the child comes that they are homosexual.

Recently an article in the Boston Globe reported on a lesbian couple that wasn't going to get "married" because then they would have to disclose this to the adoption agency and would not be able to obtain a second child from overseas.

They had already deceived the overseas agency in order to obtain their first child. Such deceptions will negatively affect married heterosexual couples seeking to adopt abroad.

Q: What does a child typically experience when adopted by a heterosexual couple?

O'Leary: While the public likes to romanticize adoption, the fact is that being surrendered for adoption by one's biological parents is a wounding experience.

Pretending that adoption is just like having your own biological child and that there are no additional problems to overcome does a disservice to the adoptive child's struggle to understand and to the adoptive parents' heroic love.

Adoptive parents tell their children how their brave mothers made the courageous decision to give their babies good homes with a mommy and daddy and all the advantages that brings.

However, in spite of the reassurances from the adoptive parents and all their love and care, an adopted child almost always asks: "Why? Why did my mother give me up? Where was my father?"

These questions often persist well into adulthood. It takes emotional and psychological stability in the part of the adoptive parents to allow children to ask these questions.

Adoption by a happily, faithfully married husband and wife provides a healing environment for the child who has been surrendered by his or her biological parents. The faithful committed love of the father for his wife and children teaches the adoptive child that all men do not walk away from their responsibilities to their children.

The strength under pressure of the adoptive mother teaches the child that even though his or her biological mother may not have thought she had the resources to bring up a child, the adoptive mother is strong enough to face any crisis and never stop loving or surrender a beloved child.

The day-to-day experience of seeing a loving married father and mother sacrifice and persevere gives the adopted child an image of true marital and parental love that can serve as a model for his or her own life.

This is undoubtedly why, in spite of the initial wound, the majority of adopted children grow into healthy and happy adults who marry wisely and become good parents.

[Friday: The burden of being raised by same-sex parents]