A few months ago, the Georgia Senate passed a bill allowing religious adoption agencies to deny service and discriminate against single people, non-Christians and same-sex couples. While that bill later died in the state legislative session, the Oklahoma House passed a similar bill on April 30. In fact, within the past year, seven other states have passed similar laws. Today, thousands of adopted children are living with same-sex couples in the United States, but the stigma against these families remains. Let’s break this down for a moment.
More than 428,000 children and youth are in the foster care system and 25% live in institutions, group homes, trial and pre-adoptive homes. This means over 100,000 children and youth are currently waiting to be adopted.
These statistics just get uglier. According to the ASPCC, almost 19,000 youth are emancipated from foster care without reunifying with their families or being adopted.
When it comes to laws surrounding foster care and adoptions, it is these children who carry the burden of the law. Restrictions on who can adopt drain the pool of prospective parents, taking away families from those who need them most. And gay couples are one of the largest demographics to adopt, as LGBT couples are four times more likely than heterosexual couples to have an adopted child in their household. In fact, banning gay and lesbian foster care would cost the country $87 to $130 million in lost child care.
While none of the bills that have been proposed across the states explicitly mention “gay” or “homosexual” parents, they allow religiously based adoption agencies to exercise religious freedom by rejecting families with opposing lifestyles. These bills are championed for putting the children first, yet they do nothing to ensure quality parenting for these young people. Instead, they perpetuate the idea that lifestyles such as single parenting or same-sex families are unhealthy for children. Without this large mass of families who are willing and able to adopt them, children will be harmed. And why?
The two main arguments against gay adoption are as follows: such adoptions are wrong as a matter of religious principle and they are wrong because they aren’t good for children.
To put it bluntly, the second statement is false. It has been proven in numerous studies that children raised by homosexual couples show no difference in health, emotional well-being, learning and growth compared to children raised by heterosexual couples. The American Psychological Association has issued a statement to inform the public “that the adjustment, development, and psychological well-being of children is unrelated to parental sexual orientation and that the children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish”.
As for the matter of religious principle, there will always be people who do not support LGBTQ+ identities. However, it is grossly negligent to put forth laws that target LGBTQ parents with no regard to the damage this causes foster children. Youth in the foster care system are some of the most vulnerable people in the country, and it is illogical to cast aside their health and wellbeing to further a religious agenda. It should not matter who the parents are as long as they can provide America’s children with safe and happy childhoods.
Foster children need families. Let’s not take those families away.