Government plans for gay partners to adopt in NI…

THE Government has announced proposals to allow gay couples to adopt (whether in a civil partnership or not), bringing Northern Ireland into line with other parts of the UK.

  • victor

    It’s about time. I expect the dup are expecting us to be smote with some kind of Hurricaine Katrina disaster for our sins.

  • Animus

    I was delighted to hear this news, a great day for equality. I was somewhat surprised, pleasantly so, that there hasn’t been a furore about it.

  • Alex Kane

    Morning All,

    As someone who was adopted (in 1961, at the age of six)this strikes me as very sensible. My adoptive parents were a wonderful couple and devoted their lives and love to me.

    And, as someone who isn’t married, but who is in a very happy and very enduring relationship with a woman I have adored since the day I met her, I am also pleased that we, too, can now be considered as potential adopters.

    Alex

  • smcgiff

    Not for the first time I fall in between the divide on an issue.

    I feel gay couples should have the right to have a civil partnership and get all the benefits that such implies, such as the tax shield, but I don’t see them as a family unit in the same way as a father and mother. Sociologically having parental figures of the same sex is not the same(beneficial) as a two sex couple. For adoption purposes they should be treated as if they were single people adopting. If single people qualify for adoption then they should be allowed to adopt.

  • Animus

    But why are they not a family unit? As long as children benefit from two people (or more, in terms of extended family and friends) and the child’s interests are put first, why shouldn’t gay couples adopt? A couple is more than the sum of its parts, ie, single people. It’s important that both parents are co-adoptors, particularly for kinship rights.

    Where is your evidence that same sex couples cannot confer the same benefits as a mixed sex couple? Prejudice or “hunches” don’t qualify as evidence.

    Many families aren’t ‘ideal’, whether it is because they are single parents, or because the parents have a rotten relationship or because the parents are too immature to look after kids, etc. Gay couples may have to work a bit harder to ensure role models of the opposite sex, but again, the more people involved in the raising of a child, the merrier. Being a parent isn’t the same as being around, ie a father who works long hours and doesn’t spend much time with his children.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Animus,
    It could be just as prejudiced to assume that two same sex parents are as good as two opposite sex parents. We should all try to avoid accusations of prejudice and ignorance because the reality is that there isn’t much evidence either way.

    As you say, it can be quite complicated. A pair of gay men with a large extended family, good jobs, no criminal record et cetera will probably provide a better environment than an opposite sex couple who are alcoholics and criminals.

    Being allowed to adopt a child shouldn’t be seen as a right for anyone (even if they are a married opposite sex couple). Those that make the decisions should consider only the child’s interests. That could mean putting blind people below sighted people for example. Or having a preference for parents of the same race.

    The decision makers will also need to use evidence. They can’t just go on a hunch in any aspect of their decisions, whether it’s looking at race, disability or the sexuality of the potential adoptees. Even if the parents have a criminal record, we should find and use evidence of its effects and not just rely on hunches. If the evidence show that race differences (and racism) is less of a problem, but that both male and female parents are very beneficial, then so be it – the number of successful gay adoptees will be low.

    Every case is different, with a large number of factors to consider. But the only way to proceed is to list all the factors and find evidence of what those factors have meant on average for other children. The fact that there are many complicated factors means we need more, not less, research into the general effects of each factor.

    If the results of the science aren’t what we would like them to be, then blame Nature. Whoever said Nature couldn’t be racist or homophobic or whatever? We should be bringing up our kids to be against racism and homophobia, but we shouldn’t pretend that Nature isn’t fussy about what’s best for our kids.

  • smcgiff

    Animus,

    I accept that you can have natural parents that are poor parents – indeed criminally poor. There’s a lot of truth in the saying you need a licence to own a dog, but to become a parent …

    However, the adoption process is a very formalised and rigorous process and a lot of factors are rightly taken into account. Age, wealth, background etc. So, to compare like with like I don’t think same sex couples offer the same potential for parenthood as a vetted man and woman.

    ‘Where is your evidence that same sex couples cannot confer the same benefits as a mixed sex couple?’

    Evidence? I don’t think they allow experiments when it comes to the rearing of children. ‘

    ‘Gay couples may have to work a bit harder to ensure role models of the opposite sex’ – Objection you honour – Supposition!

    ‘the more people involved in the raising of a child, the merrier.’

    I’d also disagree with a communal type arrangement. A child needs to know it can rely completely on those that raise it. To dilute that responsibility (beyond, lets say, two) is to diminish the comfort a child would develop from its parents.

    Of course it’s not always possible for a child to be raised by a mother and a father, and others may help, such as Aunts/Uncles etc. but it’s not the ideal situation. Allowing gay couples to adopt would institutionalise this disadvantage. Although, I accept you wouldn’t agree that it’s a disadvantage.

  • ulick magee

    oh get you

  • Animus

    I don’t favour the communal way of raising children at all – what I mean is that if a child has other adults to rely upon, it’s better than just parents. For example, a teenager may not want to discuss birth control with her parents, but may be more comfortable with an auntie or family friend instead. The more people who love and cherish a child the better, that doesn’t diminish the responsibility of the parents to look after thier child/ren.

    And I’m not suggesting we should experiment on children, but trends can be tracked over time. Evidence (without experimentation) shows single parent families have increased finanial difficulties and a greater tendency toward social exclusion.

    I also agree with the previous commentator that rearing children not a right, it’s a priviledge (some days, ha ha). It is an onerous responsibilty which should be undertaken with a full understanding of all the factors as possible.

    Smgiff, you’re right that I don’t agree that it is a disadvantage – it will always be preferable for a child to be raised by loving, concerned parents who are working for the best interests of the child rather than pushing a child through the care system. I think every honest parent will find themselves wanting in some area, but that a good skills mix can overcome individiual weak points.

  • Rory

    I must say that I have trouble with the appropriateness of this measure.

    I have no issue with the free expression of human sexuality and the right of all to live equal and unhindered with their choice of that. Indeed it would only but be a fool, a charlatan or a rogue who attempted to legislate in that area of human life. I have worked in the largest HIV/AIDs charity and seen the terrible consequences of fear, ignorance and prejudice at first hand and living and working where I have it is likely that I know as many gay and lesbian people as might indeed be “out” in all of NI.

    But this is not an issue of adult sexuality or any repression thereof. This is a matter that concerns the well being of children. Now I know at least two men who were left with children and abandoned by the wife and mother after the marriage became untenable (possibly, indeed probably, because of the man’s undeclared sexual orientation prior to the marriage). Both men have been very successful in rearing their children (although questions of paternity arise unanswered in the mind) and have had male partners from time to time – but none stable and any shortlasting. Very commendable.

    However potential adoptive parents must be screened for the child’s welfare and social workers and psychologists have a battery of tests that, from experience, they can apply in the screening process. Sometimes being rejected after such procedures can be most upsetting for kind, well meaning people willing and eager to adopt. But, tough, the welfare of the child must be paramount.

    The problem with gay relationships is that we have no statistics whatsoever to fall back upon to determine the likely stability or longevity of such relationships. We do know from press reports that gay divorces are already occurring as soon almost as the glamour of the marriage has worn off. And this is troubling.

    It is troubling because, in the absence of any available body of knowledge or reliable (or indeed, any) statistics, we are driven to rely on the crude empirical evidence of our own observation and this does not bode well for indicating the likeliehood of stability or longevity within a gay or lesbian relationship.

    I am also concerned about motivation. Why? Why does a gay couple seek to adopt in the first place? A heterosexual couple may marry or mate intending to have children together and then fail to be able. All things being well then it would seem logical that they would be most appropriate to provide loving parenting to children without (or without responsible) parents.

    But gay couples do not mate with any intention (or indeed hope) of procreation so lack of children is no loss to them nor indeed could it be construed as a social stigma. I fear that it is the short=term wants of a vociferous minority that is being addressed here and that it could well be at the expense of the long-term needs of vulnerable children. There are those among the gay community who feel the same but are loath to speak out.

  • Animus

    Rory – I know a number of gay couples who would either love to have children, or already have children. Ways and means. Having a child is a desire, a biological wish not confined to one’s sexual orientation.

    The fact that someone cannot have a biological child is certainly not a reason for necessarily being a good parent. Based on that sort of rationale, only people who can prove (through their bio children) that they are good parents should be prioritsed as adopters.

    As for stability, nealry 50% of straight marriages break up – are gay relationships that much worse? I’m all for introducing a stated limit for how long a couple has been together (I suspect that exists already).