Despite barriers that hetero-sexual couples don’t face, adoptions by same-sex couples are really on the rise. New census data shows that in 2009, 19 percent of gay couples had an adopted child in the house. That’s more than double the number that it was in 2000 — only 8 percent.
Gay couples still have to negotiate confusing and inconsistent laws throughout the country. They face a legal patchwork, outright discrimination and, in two states — Utah and Mississippi — laws forbidding them from forming a family through adoption.
So what this sudden and striking rise?
An article in The New York Times says that two distinct trends are responsible: a long line of children waiting to be adopted and growing acceptance of gay and lesbians in the U.S.
The biggest barrier to adoption for gay couples, the article points out, is the fact that in most states, same-sex marriages aren’t legal. And despite recent victories for gay marriage and adoption advocates — most recently in Florida and Arkansas — there’s always some other place, like Arizona, where discriminatory laws require that preference be given to straight couples, for example.
The Obama Administration, while not coming out and saying “quit discriminating,” has at least underscored the research that shows children are not harmed if they’re being raised by two moms or two dads.
The Times article notes that adoption agencies work as a kind of underground railroad in states that won’t allow gay partners to adopt. While they do background checks and interviews, etc., on both parents, when it comes time to sign the papers, only one mom or dad is legal in the eyes of the state. So couples adopting more than one take turns.
Whenever I write about gay marriage or same-sex couples adopting — or really anything to do with non-traditional families — I’m always amazed that this is where we’re still at in the U.S. I thought it would be my generation — Gen X — that would have made this kind of blatant discrimination/fear/hate go away. But I guess we can only bring it so far.
What give me hope is our kids, though. It almost makes me laugh to imagine how our kids are going to think of this issue (which is to say, it will be a non-issue, of that I am certain). Our kids are going to look back at us and wonder what the hell was wrong with the world. I doubt they’ll even refer to others as gay, straight, same-sex or otherwise. Just the family with two kids that moved in down the street.
Photo: seeminglee via flickr