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Tuesday, 21 May, 2002, 08:52 GMT 09:52 UK
Should gay couples be allowed to adopt?
Gay couples could be able to adopt children after MPs vote in the Commons on Thursday.
Health Secretary Alan Milburn is offering MPs a vote to amend the Adoption and Children Bill so that unmarried couples and gay people can adopt.
Milburn said that no-one has the right to adopt but he believes vulnerable children should have the chance of stable family life by "widening the pool of potential adoptive parents".
In 1999, gay couple Tony Barlow and Barrie Drewitt arranged a surrogate birth in America after being rejected as adoptive parents in Britain.
Do you think gay couples should be allowed to adopt children?
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
What amazes me is how all the homophobes in this discussion seem happy to see children remain in care in order to satisfy their moral dogmas. We know that this is by far the worst outcome for children - so how can these people claim to be concerned for children's welfare?
There should be no reference to sex or sexuality when a child is considered for adoption. What matters is the commitment to provide a caring and loving home for that child.
Sorry, but what cannot happen naturally, should not be allowed to happen at all. It's unfair on the child. No matter how loving and caring the parents may be, that child will have to face people outside the home.
Yes, gay couples should be allowed to adopt. But they should also be subject to the same rigorous checks as heterosexual couples planning to adopt.
I do not agree with this at all. The reason why so many children are in care is because they come from dysfunctional, single parent and possibly gay households.
I'm gay and in a 15 year relationship, and yes I'm still under 40. My relationship has lasted longer than two sets of my straight friends, both now separated despite having one child each; one married, one not. All my gay and lesbian friends are in long term relationships. Is that so hard to believe? The outcomes depend on the quality and commitment and strength of the individuals, not their sexuality. The same goes for parenting I believe. Remember, there are 58,000 kids in care in the UK.
Why do some people care so much about what happens to these children, yet give no considerations to the suitability of any straight person to be a parent? Just why are the 58,000 there in the first place? Is potluck somehow superior to the careful thought, selection and commitment that a gay couple would have to go through?
My gut reaction is no. I could easily fall into the trap of sharing Tony Blair's stated belief that the ideal upbringing for a child is with two loving parents, one male, and one female. But of course, that nuclear family is actually a very recent, possibly 20th century model. Historically, the extended family and the wider community (the "tribe") were involved in bringing up children, not just the two immediate parents. Nowadays, the reality of life is somewhat different again, and many children end up in single parent families, perhaps with other members of the extended family involved, or with stepparents. In a sense moving back to the pre-20th century model. And if a child is adopted by a couple (whether heterosexual or homosexual), who is to say that they will stay together? What happens to the children then? What about non-monogamous relationships? Perhaps it should become the norm that children are adopted by primarily one parent (irrelevant of whether that parent is straight, gay or even bi).
No, homosexual couples should not be able to adopt. We need to base public policy on facts, not on liberal prejudices in favour of homosexuality. We must not allow adoption at any price. Government figures (and common sense) show that the married family is overwhelmingly more stable than any other setting. Cohabitation is notoriously unstable (after all, unmarried heterosexuals have deliberately decided NOT to commit themselves to each other). Homosexual relationships are even more unstable. I don't know personally of one homosexual relationship that has lasted more than about two years. Homosexual people are entitled to make their own moral mistakes, but they are not entitled to insist everyone else approve and they are certainly not entitled to insist that children be used as guinea pigs in a gay rights social engineering experiment .
I have had many friends and relatives who have come to this issue. Let me explain one thing. Parents are parents gay or straight. It is up to them to coach the child and explain about sexuality and every other issue that comes up. The "Bully" argument does not hold water. Bullies will be there forever. Any good parent can help the child reason with these facts, and teach them to be a more happy, tolerant, and free thinking individual. That is what life is all about. After all any adult figure that is nurturing is better than growing up in a facility. The world needs a little bit of TLC, and has a lot of growing up to do. This is the year 2002 after all, not 1950!! Evolve already!
I am against the homosexual way of life, however, I believe that if it can proved that individual couples can provide a healthy and stable environment to bring a child up in there should be no restrictions stopping them from adopting.
Richard H, Essex UK
In response to the argument that 'nature never intended it that way', might I point out that this doesn't necessarily make something wrong. It also isn't natural to sit at a desk tapping a keyboard all day, for doctors to attempt to cure cancer, or to mass-produce food, clothing and medicines and to eat things with all sorts of man-made chemicals in them. But you don't hear people getting on their high horse about those things, and yet if anyone uses any of those items, they can't claim to be living naturally. So lets put to rest this 'nature' argument because its hypocritical.
Ideally I feel a child needs to grow up in a two sex loving family. The world is not, however, ideal. The question we need to ask is this - Is it better for a child to be kept in the potentially harmful institutional childrens' home environment OR be adopted by a gay couple? Let us not confuse gay and paedophile here. A child is more likely to be abused by a male member of a heterosexual relationship than from any other source. This is not, in my opinion, an ideal answer but better to let a child grow up with two or even one person that genuinely loves them than be just another kid in care.
The majority of children placed for adoption are the fall out from failed heterosexual relationships. To overcome all the obstacles placed in their way, gay people have to have a strong commitment to each other, and really want a child, and that's the key to a happy upbringing. Research findings in USA show these children to be more well-balanced, more open-minded and tolerant, and less likely to get into trouble. Findings for children's homes show almost the reverse. We might just have a better society if we put gays at the top of the list.
To be allowed to adopt we had to go through six months of weekly interviews, talking about every aspect of our lives and our feelings. Re-visiting family deaths, childhood etc. Two of our friends had to be interviewed, we were police referenced and our passports were checked. We had to have full medicals. Then a group of experts in the field of adoption including an existing adopter and an adopted person reviewed our case file and decided our future whilst we sat at home waiting for the call. They said yes! I am not complaining about the adoption system but praising it. We now have the backing of a panel of experts and the police telling us we are up to the job.
I am surprised to see this discussion - in the sense that in our country, gays are sentenced to death if their identity and relationship is disclosed. However, I personally believe there is nothing wrong with being gay. I don't exactly know how, but I suppose gays have to adopt children over a specific age limit. For example, they should not be able to bring up an infant of under a year old, since that child has some needs that only a mother can fulfil. Nevertheless, I wonder why some very open minded people brought up in the UK and US still think the way our people in Afghanistan and some other backwatered countries think. I suppose you have to get rid of this prejudice against gays and lesbians and let them enjoy their lives the way all of us do, and let them have all the privileges we people have. Shohra,UK/Afghanistan
The UK doesn't need to try to reinvent the wheel on this issue. Many states in the USA allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt, and these adoptions have been intensively studied. All the child psychologists agree that children adopted by same-sex couples are every bit as well cared for as children adopted by heterosexual couples. If anything, the same-sex couples are even more devoted parents.
Stephanie Taylor, UK
Why are people stressing out about kids getting teased at the playgrounds because they have gay parents? KIDS ARE CRUEL. They're constantly teasing each other. I was teased because I was a dark-skinned child growing up in a white town. Looking back, I cannot resent my parents for being different. What I can resent, however, is a bigoted society that needs to be changed. Changing antiquated adoption laws will reflect a more progressive, tolerant society. And this progress will eventually filter down to those bullies on the playground.
This defies conventional wisdom. It is good for a young mind to see a man and a women in the household. It provides balance in one's life. To try to rewrite millions of years of evolutionary history and change the setup is folly, however it can be rationalized. It is truly unwise to take something universally accepted by all nations and cultures and change it just because we can. Some things should be kept sacred.
Whilst I have sympathy with those that wish to adopt a child, I feel that nature never intended it that way. It is also unfair on a child who has no say in the matter and, whilst the world is becoming more liberal in its attitudes, those attitudes may not be liberal enough when the child reaches school age. The child will become a prime target for bullies. I have no doubt that gay couples can make excellent parents and in many cases better parents than many heterosexual couples, but the a child must be given the opportunity of a stable 'natural' upbringing.
Deb T, UK
Surely any parents are better than no parents? There don't appear to be enough married couples keen to adopt, so if the choice is between being adopted by an unmarried couple, be they of the same or opposite sexes, or growing up being shuffled around foster homes, surely it's better for a child to have loving parents rather not? Parents aren't the only role models available.
For the last 10 years we have had numerous revelations of how children have been sexually abused whilst in the care of adults. Council Homes, Charity Homes, Church Homes, - all have been found to have attracted some types of adult who have used children for their own desires. Step Parents too have also abused their step children. Any type of fostering or adoption is also open to this abuse. Adoption is no easy answer. It never is as good as having your real parents, and however good the adoptive parents are, most children still seek to meet their real parents. We should all be trying to make sure that couples who have children stick together so there are no children to adopt anyway.
No, absolutely not. They have chosen their way of life which inhibits them from having children, so why should they be able to adopt?
There are homosexuals who are fit to be parents, as there are those who are not. And apparently that goes the same with heterosexuals. We are, after all, the ones who have kids and put them up for adoption.
Furthermore, most homosexuals are children of heterosexuals, so the whole argument that gays raise gays is nothing but incredibly stupid. Personally, I don't think most people, gay or straight, are fit to be parents.
The problem does not lie with whether Gay couples are capable of providing a loving and nurturing environment, which I believe they can. It lies with society's views on Gay relationships and families. A child is more likely to suffer emotional problems outside of the home from children at school and other members of the community than at home. Many people still fear the idea that Gay relationships will become an accepted part of society and adoption rights is one more move in that direction. Obtaining a level of support from the whole community would benefit Gay families and their children whether biological or adoptive. I would also like to say that I am not tarring everyone with the same brush, as there are increasing numbers of supportive people in the community.
This cannot be right. How can the British government even contemplate giving homosexual couples the ability to adopt. You cannot bring up a child in this kind of environment and expect them to be well adjusted. A child who has only male parents or only female parents cannot get any experience of dealing with the opposite sex or the same sex - whichever gender the child is. Adoption also gives couples who cannot have children naturally a chance to have children of their own as well as giving a child the chance to have a normal family. It is not for the people who choose a different lifestyle, which not only prevents them from having children naturally but is also not conducive to bringing up a child in a balanced environment. Homosexuals should no more be allowed to adopt than drug users infected with H.I.V. or AIDS.
There are two issues at stake here. Firstly, should homosexual people have the same rights in society as heterosexuals? The answer to this question is undoubtedly yes. This is because physically and mentally they are capable of everything that heterosexuals are.
Secondly, should homosexual people have the right to have children? The answer to this one is more complex. This is one area in which Homosexual people are not capable of achieving the same outcome as heterosexual people. Given that it is the child who may suffer as a result, it is better that adoption is left to Heterosexual couples.
Being a lesbian mum myself, I think some of the comments here are from people who are still living in the Dark Ages. My girlfriend and I have a son together and he's very happy, thank you very much. AND: he was no accident! Here's a message to all the religious zealots out there and those of you who still believe in the traditional role models: you raise children with your head and with your heart, not with your genitals!
Adoption, is not simply a lifestyle choice, but a vital function in our society and should be promoted, and expanded urgently. A few thousand adoptions each year should be set in the context of more than 180 000 abortions annually. With the appropriate controls, adoption should made much more widely available to all couples, in loving, stable relationships. A much wider scale of adoption has to be the way forward to a more caring society adoption.
I think for a resolution to this issue, we have to look back to one of the central pillars of life: the laws of nature. Nature dictates that for life to be created, there must be a unity of female and male elements. This should not so easily be overlooked, and it often is so, because we humans always think we know best...
I wouldn't want to adopt a child as I believe it would have to deal with too much growing up in a society that can't as a whole except people who are not normal, whatever that may mean. That doesn't mean that I don't think gay couples shouldn't be allowed to be considered. It is very sad that there are so many kids with no parents. I think the issue that should be addressed here is why there are so many. A child should be allowed to be adopted by the most suitable couple. By suitable I mean two people who love and are committed to each other. If they're not how can they love and commit to a child?
The word "couple" is being used an awful lot in this debate, but a few people have raised the fact that the single-parent family is now becoming more the "norm". Two thirds of the children attending my local school are from single-parent families. As I am a working single parent I have a live-in nanny who is my child's primary carer when I'm not around. We have lived together for five years now. As I point out to many people, this is a more stable relationship than many "normal" couples (gay or straight) and provides a loving and secure home for our children. I am aware that many of our neighbours think we're a gay couple, but the children are not teased at school, and I have never experienced any negative reactions. It's better for a child to have two parents than one, regardless of their sex or sexuality.
I think that gay couples should be allowed to adopt, however if a suitable heterosexual couple is suitable then they should be given the opportunity first. I have no reason to believe that one couple would be better parents than the other, however, there are many people (young and old) out there that will take great delight in making the child's life a misery just because they have two Dads or two Mums. Sad, but a fact of life...
Adoption is about what is right for the child. I went to school with a girl who everyone knew lived with two mummies, but in a community where many people only had one parent it was hardly considered as an issue.
I may be in a minority here but I'm gay and at the moment I think gay couples should not be able to adopt. I don't think it's a gay rights issue - it's one about the welfare of the child. I would rather not have a kid than see my him/her bullied in school on the basis that he has two dads. Yes, it takes action to change the attitudes of society but no one should be testing the limits with a child who has absolutely no choice in the matter.
We might note that in all likelihood it was a heterosexual relationship that lead to the child being born without a home. It hardly seems fair to attack homosexual couples for wanting to provide one.
One thing most people are ignoring in today's politically correct society is "Thus sayeth the Lord." His word never changes, unlike society's trends and fads that change as swiftly as the winds. He enabled a man and a woman to create children; I think this says something of how He wanted the family unit to be and not just for yesteryear or yesterday. Gays should not have the same rights or benefits as married or heterosexual people, including the right to adopt a vulnerable and impressionable child. Without the modern manipulations of science nowadays, they were never intended to be parents. Their lifestyle only concludes in sexual pleasure and friendship. It is incapable of producing anything else.
Liam Quin, Canada
How would you feel if the question was 'Should heterosexual couples be allowed to adopt?'
If gay individuals and couples are willing to make the extraordinary committment required to raise a child, I say kudos to them and I thank them for opening their lives, hearts and homes to little ones who so often otherwise remain in state or foster care indefinitely.
Children, it must be added, don't really care what gender their parents are (or prefer), they just care that they have parents to take care of them at all. And sadly, too many kids don't have parents.
I think the children should be allowed to vote on it. If you think gay couples have stable relationships then where are you living? If it goes ahead, watch the future stats for indecent assault to adopted children by gay couples.
It may be of interest to note for J Pirelli, that over 90% of child abuse is committed by heterosexuals. It is a myth that all gay people are child abusers.
It's sad to see comments from some who still consider homosexuals a dangerous influence on children. There is no evidence I know of that suggests that the sexuality of a child brought up by a gay couple is more likely to be gay than one brought up 'traditionally'. The issue is very simple: are gay people to be treated as equals with straight people or not? It is a question of ethical rights and responsibilities, not of tradition.
Andrew Witham, UK
I strongly disagree that gay couples should be allowed to adopt children. When these children grow up and begin to understand the differences between the sexes, most of them, having found themselves "straight", will be appalled, if not disgusted, by who their "parents" are. We don't have the right to maim the psyche of the innocent children.
Why does every issue like this have the 'gay' aspect so dramatically highlighted? The amendment to the bill that has been suggested is to specifically allow ANY unmarried couples to adopt - where these couples were previously indiscriminately banned from adopting a child, even when these people were the MOST suitable parents. It's a bill being put forward so that the choice (for the adoption agencies) is more comprehensive than it is at present. The adoption agencies will eventually decide, from a selection of carefully vetted and suitable parents which set of parents are the most likely to give the child the care and attention he/she deserves.
People should be ashamed of themselves for fighting this bill. Are people really suggesting that two people, approved by the adoption agencies as suitable parents may not be suitable because they are of the same gender? If anyone does believe this then their intelligence is obviously in question and perhaps their opinions should be discarded as the bigoted ravings of an idiot?
I think that in 100 years, perhaps sooner, our descendants will look at our debates about gay rights with the same feeling of incredulity we read the pre-American civil war documents discussing the peculiar institution of slavery. I am not saying that discrimination against gays is as bad as slavery was in the South, but that the whole idea that some people have more rights than others is unethical. An upstanding gay couple is no different from an upstanding straight couple, and should be treated as such.
Paul Sheehan, Coventry , England
It is ridiculous that this is even an issue. Many straight people who are in no position to raise children because they cannot afford it, are in unstable environments, or are too young, have children all the time and there are no laws preventing these people from having children.
A gay couple who wants a child does not have one by accident. They must put in much time, effort and money to obtain one. And if they are willing to do all this, then they surely are more suited to have a child then someone who had it by accident?
Rick Evans, San Francisco, USA
In the US, gay couples are allowed to adopt in nearly every state, since two parents are better than none. We have half a million kids in the American foster care system. Are Britons so revolted by gay people that they will let it get in the way of the best interests of the child, namely, having any parents at all?
Secondly, our society is not ready for adoption by gay couples. The children in question would be subjected to constant hell at school, would probably be bullied, and would come to resent the people who had taken them on merely to make a statement to others who, in the main, do not wish to hear it. Again, children are not a commodity to be used in order to further the political agenda of the gay movement. There are more than enough problems affecting children, particularly educational under-achievement, bullying, drugs and crime, without deliberately adding more.
As a gay man, I feel that David Smythe of the UK is way off base. All of the gay/lesbian parents I know who have had or adopted children did so out of love, not for a fashion accessory. Very few stable long-term gay relationships? Wrong again. We are not talking about a small pool of your friends. In fact, lesbian relationships have been studied and found to be longer and more stable than heterosexual marriages. Facts not fear.
That's a beautiful speech about equality Rahul. You gloss over the generation of mixed-race kids who were bullied and faced prejudice and suffured all the more because their pioneering parents were too busy sitting around feeling proud of themselves to give them any kind support and pride. By all means let gay adoption happen, but let's get the grown-up kids of gay parents back here in 18 years' time so they can tell us exactly what it was like and how good their parents were.
In response to Anonymous UK, who replied to my post.
Children who are ginger usually get bullied at school because they have different coloured hair. Does this mean that parents who have ginger hair shouldn't have children because they will invariably be bullied? No.
Gay couples can adopt - great! What no-one has taken into account is what the child will feel. Do you have any idea about how much he or she will be bullied and ostracised by his peers? This seems to me to be a case of people listening to those who shout the loudest instead of thinking this through logically.
Jake Anderson, UK
Absolutely. Children should be brought up in a stable loving relationship. It doesn't matter whether it is heterosexual, gay or lesbian. I attend Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto and there are many children who have gay or lesbian parents who attend services. They behave and look no differently than to children of heterosexual parents who also attend church. Gay and lesbian families have to be fought for and want it possibly more than any others - the children know that they are loved and wanted.
I am totally opposed to any form of parenting rights for homosexual and lesbian people. I don't want to see them trying to sabotage the tradition.
I agree with Paul Sheehan. Will little Johnny copy Daddy and Daddy and go up to little Steven in the playground, give him a kiss and start holding hands?
To Steve, from Switzerland: I suppose you would prefer little Steven to go up to little Johnny in the playground and give him a good kicking because his family background is 'different'?
A child will make their own choices about their sexuality as they grow. Studies of children raised in gay households show no increased percentages of homosexuality. Two men, or two women, can love and raise a child just as well as a heterosexual couple...perhaps more, as they've had to make the decision deliberately. And what's all this about kids kissing and holding hands? All kids act that way...it's only adults that are embarrassed!
Chris A, USA (UK ex-pat)
A happy childhood is a fantastic thing and the right of all - who would deny a child this? Gay couples can fill the parental role as any other can and the need is there. This also helps gay couples in their childless void. I know.
I don't see why not, surely two loving parents, regardless of sexual orientation, are better than none at all. Especially when compared to a life spent bouncing from one foster parent to another, or worse, being raised in a local authority "home".
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