Society is a flexible organism that changes in the course of time. Today’s values focus on liberty and accepting difference, which is the case with same-sex couples. Although American society has become more tolerant to gay relationships in recent decades, it is obvious that this subject still remains controversial. And it does become even more controversial when the ideas of gay marriages and gay parenting are discussed. Many people are afraid that if society accepts different concepts of a family, than the old values will be denounced. However, it is clear that having a partner and children is a basic human right so it needs to be accepted. California has always been more liberal to the issue than some other states, yet the question of same-sex couple adoption still needs to be addressed and resolved. The current paper focuses on the background of the situation and reasons of why gay adoption should be legal in California.
Looking at the recent statistics of gay households with children, it is easy to notice that they are just one percent of the whole population. This means that they are still in minority, although the number is significant enough to consider it as a trend. At the same time, 84 percent of same-sex couples do not have children, which is clearly a much higher share than in case with opposite-sex couples. There are several reasons for this gap including biological and social ones. Biologically, it is obvious that gay couples cannot conceive a child in a traditional way. However, this does not look to be the only reason for so few gay couples being parents because having a family is a value that does not correlated with sexual orientation or physiology in a direct way. Having close people is rather a psychological need, and having a child encompasses a wide range of aspects. When a person has a child, it gives a feeling of eternity, as one can continue one’s life on earth in this way. So, this gives an additional sense of living, which is the main one for many people. It would be wrong to believe that gay people are deprived of this need and do not care about children. Moreover, many of such couples would like to have children but are not able to do this either because of legal issues or because of social prejudice, or both. Naturally, gay community is concerned about the issue as they believe it to be discrimination of basic human rights. Besides, this should not be only a concern of gay community only, but of the whole society because discrimination of any group can lead to negative processes on a large scale. Furthermore, children are a party whose interests should be taken into account in the first place. It would be not easy, though, to decide on their needs in an objective way because any opinion is influenced by cultural background of a person.
Yet, while having issues with adoption and parenting, same-sex couples having children is reality, though minority. Statistics says that 65 000 children lived with same-sex parents in 2002, whereas the most recent 2012 data reflect the fact that 110, 000 children live with same-sex parents (Gay adoption statistics from 2011 and 2012). This information demonstrates the fact that there has been a considerable liberalization of legislation within the decade, which allowed gay couples adopt children. This also implies the fact that slowly but steadily gay couples adjust to living in society in an open way without fear of being condemned. Besides, one can say for sure that adoption of children by gay couples is a next level tolerance test, as it needs more effort on part of society in terms of acceptance. It is obvious that homosexuality is accepted by society more easily than changing the whole idea of a family, which is traditionally seen as a union of a man and a woman. Many people refuse to accept difference because this means changing their own perspectives as well. Thus, these data are an evidence of the fact that obstacles in laws and public opinion used to be in the way ten years ago to a larger extent than they are an obstacle now, which the described trend reflects. However, it is not a secret that situation is not perfect even today, which means that in ten years more gay parents will have children among those who cannot do it right now.
As the United States is a federal state, the differences in legislation make situation across the country vary. Today, sixteen US states allow adoption: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. (Gay adoption statistics from 2011 and 2012). Other states provide this opportunity only to one of the two parents, while in few states the situation is even more restrictive. As one can see, California is the state which belongs to the group of the ones that are most liberal in relation to gay couple adoption, which means that joint adoption is allowed. Clearly, joint adoption is an advantage because it ensures equal rights of both parents. In other words, in case of divorce none of them can take a child without considering the interests of his or her partner.
When speaking about same-sex couple adoption, it is worth mentioning that the issue is closely related to the issue of gay marriage. As a researcher points out, “California passed a robust domestic partnership law in 2003 that provided similar protections ( California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act 2003)” ( Brodzinky 39). The aim of this law was to ensure that while gay marriage law is still debated, the couples would be able to enjoy the same privileges, rights and responsibilities as those people who are officially married. While one approach to marriage is to consider it a union that seals love and affection, another approach is more practical, which is related to legal issues. For example, the two partners who live together as a married couple, though not officially, and share property. Thus, domestic partnership is a system of legal security for partners. Having joint children can also be a legal issue in case people are divorced, or one partner dies, or else in case both parents die and matters of inheritance have to be decided upon. Speaking about an aspect of adoption in the context of domestic partnership in California, it is worth saying that the law on adoption after approving the Act was even more liberalized. As a result, second-parent adoptions are valid not only under the new domestic partnership adoption law, nondomestic parents can adopt too as before (Brodzinsky 50). However, it is worth saying that domestic partnership law is valid only within the state California, so federal law does not accept it to be legal.
Besides legal documents, several court decisions work as precedents in deciding in favor of gay couples adopting children. For instance, “The California Supreme Court ruled … that both members of a lesbian couple who plan for and raise a child born to either of them should be considered the child's mothers even after their relationship ends.”( Litvak) Decisions like that are groundbreaking in the field of gay adoption, which is relatively new and so needs some legal support and clarification. One of the issues that need to be discussed in the context of California legislation is the so-called Proposition 8, which caused much debate in the community and certainly affected the status of child adoption. This proposition canceled the previous law which legalized same-sex marriage in California. Hence, due to Prop 8 voted in 2009 and later approved by the court gay marriage was outlawed. Yet, as has been mentioned above, the domestic partnership law allows parents to have children legally despite the ban for gay marriage.
One of the reasons why gay adoption should be legalized is because there is a long list of children waiting for adoption, and same-sex couples do not cover the need. Rob Woronoff of the Child Welfare League of America “argues shutting off adoption and foster care to gays and lesbians adversely affects children because it narrows the pool of potential parents” (Gandossy, 2007). The question is whether children are going to be better off in a orphanage or at home. There are reasons to say that in any case living with loving parents is preferable for a child than being alone. Basic human rights should guarantee an opportunity for gay parents to adopt children, in cases their background is decent enough for adoption. It would be fair to say that the choice of parents should not be based on discrimination but on considering human qualities and lifestyles. Thus, there are a lot of same-sex couples who are drug addicts, criminals, alcoholics, etc. Being heterosexual is not a guarantee of good life for a child, as well as it is not a criterion for judging about a person’s moral qualities, responsibility, ability to take care, ability to earn enough money to ensure a child’s welfare, etc. As one mother of a lesbian couple speaks out, “In the minds of a lot of policymakers and politicians, I'm an unfit parent, but we spent tens of thousands of dollars and many years and many hours and a lot of emotional expense to bring these two beautiful girls into the world," Prettyman said. "And they are loved."” (Gandossy).
Many people worry about the fact that children will be psychologically vulnerable when being raised in gay families. Some believe that it would be impossible to provide a basic pattern of relationship to them, which presupposes having a mother and a father. They say that from an early childhood one absorbs a traditional concept of femininity and masculinity, which affects their further life, mainly their relations with men and women. Thus, opponents worry that breaking that model will either provoke a child’s homosexuality or their inability to deal with males and females. However, one can say that single father and mothers might have the same issue when raising a child, when a role model of one parent is missing. Thus, one can say that this issue is not related to gay parents but to all other non-conventional mode of a family. Besides, it is important to point out that the psychological state of a child in this case will depend on how parents present information about their family to their child. Thus, again, the concern is related not to homosexuality but to sensitivity of parents and their ability and willingness to communicate. Besides, it would be fair to say that the way these children feel depends largely on the attitude of the whole community. Thus, tolerance should be raised in all its members, including children, so that children from gay families are not outcasts. Finally, it should be noted that several organizations believe that gay parenting have no negative effect on children: the National Adoption Center, the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics (Gandossy, 2007)
In conclusion, it is worth saying that same-sex couple adoption is one of the most controversial issues today for several reasons. Many people object to it because it breaks the traditional understanding of a family as a union of a woman and a man for the sake of giving birth to children. Clearly, it does not work with gay couples, besides part of the population objects to homosexuality based on religious concerns. Others are less religiously determined but still there should be a borderline kept between the norm and a deviation in order to keep society stable. Finally, some opponents believe that children are more vulnerable when raised by homosexual parents. However, there are a lot of arguments in favor of such adoption. First of all, there are too many children waiting for adoption, who need parents’ love and care. Cutting of a whole group of people based on their sexual orientations does not sound fair either to them, or to children waiting for adoption. Further on, many psychologists and organizations provided reports based on their research, which prove that children raised in gay households are neither less adequate nor less healthy physically and mentally. Of course, the background of potential parents needs to be verified carefully but it should be done equally for heterosexual couples too. One can say for sure that the major issue about both gay marriage and gay adoption does not lie in dimension of legislation. It clearly lies in the sphere of emotions, values and attitudes, as not all people are open to changing patterns of family.