Gay Adoption and Discrimination

In December, Scotland brought in a bill allowing same-sex adoption, but allowed adoption agencies with a religious foundation to ‘opt out’.  The UK is bringing in an ‘Equality Act’ that will force all UK adoption agencies to accept same-sex adopters, and incidentally railroad the Scottish opt-out clause.

India has posted today regarding the current furore over this incoming legislation that prevents adoption agencies from discriminating against gay couples who want to adopt.  She has made some excellent points that bear repeating – that a marriage certificate isn’t an MOT of child-worthiness, that "there are damaged, vulnerable children brought up within a marriage that is loveless and wrought with violence" and that being gay should not automatically result in being labelled as an unsuitable parent.  And I totally agree.

However, and please realise that I am making this comment as a non-Christian, non-straight woman in a long term, non-married relationship, I can also understand that a religiously-founded organisation might have genuine horror at the thought of giving the children in their care into the hands of people that they believe to be deeply sinful; might believe that the moral and spiritual wellbeing of those children would be endangered; might believe that they would be failing in their duty to those children to place them in such a family.  While I don’t agree with those beliefs, I can understand that they are genuine beliefs, and I also quite understand that such an agency may be concerned for the child, rather than acting to spite the would-be adopters.

To draw a parallel, it would be rather like the vegetarian owners of an animal rescue centre being forced to hand over their sheep to a meat-farmer.  I am sure that some people will think this analogy heavily over-drawn; I’m equally sure that some will think it not strong enough.

If it is discriminatory to prevent gay couples1 adopting, it is also discriminatory to trample the deeply-held values of any religious group.  I don’t know what proportion of adoption agencies do have a religious foundation, but I’m pretty sure that the church does not have a monopoly on adoption in this country.  Assuming I’m correct, I would think that any gay couple choosing to register with a religious adoption agency was either dumb and insensitive, or otherwise chasing the potential lawsuit, to register with one.

I don’t have the answers to this.  I think it is a very, very difficult situation.  Anyone who is both deeply Christian and gay has to square that circle with themselves, and much heartache and soul-searching that has lead to over the centuries.  Yet how much harder it is when the argument must be carried out by different individuals – or groups – rather than within one’s own head.

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1In any case, why do we insist on an existing sexual relationship between the two (and why two??) would-be adopters?  Realistically, how does that make a difference to a child?  Actually, why not allow a brother and sister living together to adopt?  (I’m talking about platonic living together here; let’s not go down that route right now.)

2 comments


  • It is great to see two well balanced and well thought out views on both your blog and Indias’.
    I believe that the Catholic adoption agencies deal with approx 30% of adoption cases in this country.
    That would mean 70% of all other adoption cases are dealt with by non-religiously affiliated agencies.
    The Scottish Executives Opt-out clause meant that same sex couples approaching Catholic adoption agencies would have to be referred to other agencies.
    Perhaps there should be a set time period for the Catholic adoption agencies to transfer to a non-religious agency instead of them closing down.

    27th January 2007
  • Scarlet

    Well here’s another one on the whole adoption lunacy subject.(in my opinion) to me a child in a loving home environment is a much happier child, than one living in care. Some, not all, of the children in care also are at the hands of foster parents and carers who quite frankly are in for the money or are no better than the abusive parents they were taken away from. Also Baring in mind that the prospects for a percentage of children who leave care at sixteen are unemployment, drug abuse, homelessness, and all too often ending up abused in the sex industry. And don’t get me wrong this is not the case for all. But surely these children deserve loving parents, what ever race, religion or sexuality. Oh and this also goes for single parents trying to adopt in my opinion too. Why on earth should they be discriminated against? A friend of mine has been recently going through the processes to adopt a child under the age of 2. She has been told that if she intends to return to work after the initial period of adoption leave, like maternity leave, that they will only allow her to have a child of school age. As they believe that her going out to work will be bad for the child. Even though she was intending to hire a private one to one nanny for her child whilst she was at work, which by the way is as a nurse who works with children, can you think of a more caring person to bring up a child. And yet, the government is encouraging lone parents to go back to work. Can we see a repeating pattern here?! Yet there would be nothing to stop her having a one night stand/ getting a sperm donor/ having a child with a gay friend and getting pregnant and then going back to work. And who would check up on her then? Meanwhile another child stays in care, costing the government thousands, without a loving home in which to grow up in.
    In my opinion (and this is my opinion) this system is ludicrous. As you can tell I am quite passionate about this subject.

    9th March 2007

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