March 13, 2012
Should Same Sex Couples Have the Same Adoption Rights as Heterosexual Couples?
In 2008, President Barack Obama stated there are too many children who need loving parents to deny one group of people adoption rights (eQuality, 2005). A child will benefit from a healthy, loving home, whether the parents are gay or not (eQuality, 2005). With that statement in 2008 from the individual who holds the most powerful authority in the United States, why are gay and lesbian couples today still battling adoption laws? When in fact while trying to adopt and raise children a couple’s sexual orientation should not be a factor. Homosexuals should not have to battle or circumvent adoption laws. The American family does not look the same as it did 30 years ago; therefore the adoption laws should not be the same either. Consequently, the adoption laws for some states are changing as the world evolves and realizes that a child’s well-being is more important than his or her parent’s sexual preferences. Currently, gay and lesbian couples are prohibited from adopting in only two states, Utah and Mississippi (Tavernise, 2011). Equally important is the exclusion on marriage and equal parenting rights for both parents. Some same sex households face the inequality in parental rights when children are included from previous heterosexual relationships. For example, in 2002 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that same sex adoptions should be permissible. The Supreme Court’s decision to allow same sex adoptions only came after the lower courts in Pennsylvania denied two same sex adoption petitions (Appell, 2003). The Supreme Court’s decision was based on the language included in the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). The ASFA did not exclude children who did not have any legal parents from being adopted by same sex or unmarried heterosexual couples (Appell, 2003). Therefore, the Court’s decision made it possible for second parent adoptions without terminating the parental rights of the first parent. Nonetheless, there are still several states that will refuse second parent adoptions unless the first parent relinquishes his or her parental right. Specifically these states determined that the first parent will not lose his or her rights if the adoption occurred from the child’s stepparents. Consequently, this will never be the case in a same sex partnership because of the laws prohibiting same sex marriage. In previous years Florida was among the archaic states that violated the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997. The ASFA focuses on finding adoptive families or other permanent placements for children in the foster care system (Hawkins-Leon and Worthy, 2008). The main goal of the ASFA is to decrease the time children spend in the foster care system by establishing deadlines for state agencies to find permanent homes for children who enter foster care. In 2005, over 30,000 children were in foster care in Florida (Hawkins-Leon and Worthy, 2008). Florida overlooked same sex couples for adopting purposes even though over 4,000 foster children were eligible for adoption. During the years of Florida’s same sex couple adoption ban, a gay couple fostered two sisters who had behavioral problems. Despite the behavioral issues the gay couple grew to love and nurture the young girls and eventually helped eradicate their negative actions and attitudes. After the two sisters were placed in foster care for a year the adoption agency was unable to locate a suitable home that was willing to adopt both girls. The adoption agency in turn gave the gay couple permanent custody, which is one step below adoption. In a turn of events, the State of Florida decided that all possible avenues had not been exhausted with locating a suitable home for the two girls and was in the process of...