Home > Uncategorized > SMH – “Thinking men and women need clear conscience on gay adoption“ by Lisa Prior

SMH – “Thinking men and women need clear conscience on gay adoption“ by Lisa Prior

A sensible and well balanced piece by Lisa Prior in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age today.  A copy of the NSW Adoption Bill is available

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Those gays are after the children again. On Thursday Clover Moore introduced a bill into Parliament which would allow same-sex couples to adopt. Both major parties will allow their members a conscience vote on the issue after the winter break. And it is indeed a matter of conscience.

In a parliamentary inquiry conducted last year, a majority found that the Adoption Act should be amended to allow gay couples to adopt. Faith-based adoption agencies would still have the right to exclude prospective parents who are gay, so long as they refer them to an agency which will assist.

This follows the lead of Western Australia and the ACT which already give gay couples equal access to the adoption process. Even in Tasmania gay couples can adopt a child related to one of them. In every state gay couples can foster.

Reform is opposed by church adoption agencies and many church groups. Trawling through the submissions to the parliamentary inquiry yesterday, I felt awe at the special kind of faith of some of the groups standing in judgment of gay families, making accusations about promiscuity, abuse, violence and communicable disease.

These flimsy and alarmist accusations were rather ironic coming from organisations which have been implicated in well-documented systemic abuse relating specifically to adoption and foster care, such as the mistreatment of child migrants, the stolen generations and the removal of babies from young mothers without proper consent.

Stereotyping all religious people because of the sins of a few is no better than stereotyping all gay people. Instead let’s consider the facts.

Adoption is not what it used to be. The scenario of the teen mother relinquishing her newborn is pretty much a thing of the past. Here are the statistics about adoption cited in the inquiry, statistics which are scary for anyone whose baby-making fall back plan is: ”It’s OK. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll just adopt.”

”In 2007-08 … 125 adoption orders were finalised in NSW. Of those adoptions, 73 were inter-country. Of the remaining 52 local adoptions, 15 were unknown and 37 were known. Known adoptions for this period [comprised] 10 step-parent, 22 foster carer, three other relatives and two special case adoptions.”

In other words, most local adoptions involve children who already have a relationship with a carer, and adoption is about making that relationship permanent and secure.

The bill introduced this week is mostly about allowing gay foster parents, and gay step-parents, to provide the children in their care with stability and protection of permanent adoption.

It is also about providing children with the benefits of having two parents. As Moore noted on Thursday: ”Currently a child can’t be adopted by their parent’s same-sex partner yet can be adopted by their parent’s heterosexual partner,” she said. ”Unlike heterosexual couples, same-sex couples can’t adopt a child together – one parent must adopt as an individual and the other has no legal standing as the co-parent, leaving their child in legal limbo.”

Interestingly, one of the agencies in favour of allowing gay adoption is Barnardos. It specialises in the difficult side of fostering and adoption, often involving older children who have been victims of abuse and neglect.

As it said in its submission to the inquiry, it facilitates fostering by gay couples: ”Barnardos currently has seven children placed with two gay and two lesbian couples, all of whom have a care plan of adoption. The carers have provided excellent parenting for these children, all of whom have made pleasing and significant progress in areas of their physical, social and emotional development and who have developed a secure and positive attachment to each of their carers.”

So much for the cliche about flippant gays wanting designer babies as fashion accessories, a cliche repeated this year when the former US presidential candidate Mike Huckabee argued against gay adoption by saying ”children are not puppies”.

When it comes to voting on this legislation, the real issue facing our elected representatives is whether it is conscionable to try to send some vague message about preferred family structure by making the lives of children living in gay families more difficult and less secure. And this truly is a matter of conscience.

[Source: Original Article]

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