On Gay Adoption, S.E. Cupp is Out to Lunch
S.E. Cupp is one of the latest media figures to make a pitch on gay marriage and adoption. As is often the case, she throws out so many canards in this cocktail of insipidness, one scarcely knows where to begin.
I will say conservatives have got to move on gay marriage....[and] on gay adoption. If abortion is the abhorrent option – and I believe it is – then adoption by any two loving people has got to be the better option.
First of all, the latest estimates indicate that somewhere between 12-15% of heterosexual couples struggle with infertility. Currently many of these viable homes, rather than adopting, are being steered to the artificial reproduction market and contributing to the 1.5% (and rising) of live American births tied to in vitro technology. The alternative to abortion is obviously to get more of these viable straight couples to avoid sperm-banking or surrogacy, and to consider adopting instead.
Anyone who’s lost a birth parent to death, divorce, or a tragedy knows that a kid feels the absence of a father or mother. This is square one for adoptees, orphans, children of divorce, or children of same-sex couples – someone was there when you were born, and now he or she is not there. That person is a very real human being, tied to you by flesh and blood. A kid mourns the missing person, thinks about him, longs to reconnect with him. It hurts to be cut off from a mother or father. I was cut off from my dad because he divorced my lesbian mother; I was reared by two women.
It’s not a small thing to make a kid grow up without a father because a bunch of self-centered adults can’t get their acts together. I’ve had enough of pundits like S.E. Cupp being so glib about things that are incredibly painful for people who are actually in these situations, and powerless about it to boot. If you haven’t been raised by a gay couple and you haven’t been adopted, it might be hard to understand how offensive it is to hear people on TV talk about fraught transactions like adoption and same-sex parenting with such confident nonchalance.
One of the unnoticed ironies in the debate on gay adoption has to do with David Brock, the chieftain at Media Matters, whose subdivision Equality Matters has gone after me more than once for my views on a child’s right to his mother and father. Brock spent much of his 2002 memoirs, Blinded by the Right, on the pain he felt about being adopted. In fact, his adoption weighed on him and complicated his relationship with his father much more than did his gayness. You would think that Brock would understand why it’s not such a simple thing to yank kids from a birth family and toss him into a home with one or two adults unrelated to him. Ironic self-awareness is apparently lacking on the left.
While dissenting children of same-sex couples are a growing voice now, we are still far behind the movement of people conceived by third-party reproduction. The latter movement is quite vocal in exposing both sperm-banking and surrogacy when it becomes modern-day human trafficking (or racketeering, which the gay lobby has gotten great at).
S.E. Cupp’s position is glossy and uncritical. It obscures the fact that when you promote gay adoption, you don’t make things better for orphans looking for homes. You actually encourage more lesbians and gay men to use sperm banks and surrogacy contracts, since the gay lobby is always quick to use adoption rights for gays as a legal gateway to buying designer kids. If you aren’t aware of all these complexities, maybe you shouldn’t talk about serious things on national television.
There is not, in fact, a huge number of babies saved from abortion who are unwanted by anyone but gay couples. This is one of those lies that gay marriage advocates want to repeat again and again until people get tired of refuting it. As adoption activist Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy has pointed out in a heartfelt plea to gays and lesbians not to overload the adoption market, the mother who wants to surrender her infant and has no choice but loving gay people is a complete myth. Adoption professionals stand to earn billions with the added traffic of gay couples looking to pay high fees to adopt. Joining forces with the gay lobby in a perfect storm of black-market greed, they have disseminated this fairy tale about a crisis of unwanted babies and nobody but gay people like Dan Savage or Rosie O’Donnell available to care for them.
The truth is that adoption in the United States is too expensive, and many heterosexual couples find the costs prohibitive, so they are priced out of the market by gay couples, who have much higher incomes and are, 100% of the time, forced to take babies from other people since they cannot conceive them on their own. In fact, gay adopters have such an insatiable desire to parlay their high incomes into cash-for-kids that they waged a war against Catholic Charities adoption centers, going as far as forcing many such agencies to shut down as punishment for not giving gay couples other people’s abandoned children.
The dirty secret about gay adoption is that most often when homosexual couples adopt, one of their pair is the biological parent. Usually the child comes from a former heterosexual relationship that broke down. So when they “adopt,” they typically have to put a bunch of people through the mud fight that my dear friend Janna endured: they have to drag the opposite-sex parent to family court, strip him or her of custody, and then force the poor little kid to submit to the parental authority of a new, sometimes creepy, person who’s sleeping with a biological parent and very likely caused the breakup of that child's original family.
That’s the real-life adoption story that doesn’t make for great gay headlines. Gay adoption has unfortunate but ineluctable ties to divorce. In fact, by encouraging gay adoption so much, we are encouraging a whole new generation of homewreckers – gays who want to be parents and figure out that the cheapest way to do it is to seduce someone of the same sex who is currently in a rocky marriage with children.
You will hear, from time to time, about hundreds of thousands of children in foster care who can’t find families to adopt them. This is a favorite statistic for gay marriage gurus to throw out as a kind of emotional Shock and Awe, a debate-stopper of the first order, especially if you can cough up an example of special-needs children being raised by adorable lesbians in Michigan. There has never been a backlog of infants, so these holdouts are typically older children who landed in the child protective services system because of a crisis. Many of them are kids who don’t want to placed with gay couples, or kids whom gay couples don’t want, either. What people don’t tell you – because they don’t want to and don’t have to, until you push them on it – is that most of those children have living parents, or living kin networks, and the foster care system has to work on reuniting them with their struggling birth families. Otherwise, the government would merely be an oppressive police state taking people’s kids away and signing them over to rich folks in exchange for cash, as happened in dictatorships like the kind that governed Argentina in the 1970s.
Most people don’t have the time to work through the nuances of foster care versus adoption. Fewer still are aware of how many people in “Adoption Land” – the community of adoptees and adoptive families – are calling for massive reform in both foster care and adoption. What gay activists are asking for, on both fronts, would actually be moving in the precisely wrong direction; gay lobbyists want agencies to speed up the process by which foster kids are cut off from their birth mothers and fathers and subordinated permanently to same-sex couples eager to acquire them. On the international adoption front, even gay adoptive father Frank Ligtvoet has faced the painful reality that adoption systems are overemphasizing the desire of wealthy childless families rather than the needs of impoverished communities that are struggling to provide for their children (in the Huffington Post, no less).
It took a while for brave activists like Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy to apply the same critiques on the domestic fronts, but now, too, people are scrutinizing domestic adoptions and finding much to improve. (The film Philomena, ironically, humanizes the pain of a birth mother who is pressured to give up her infant who turns out to be gay; despite the film’s sympathy for homosexuals, the gay movement is pushing to create more Philomenas nowadays so they can build their rainbow families.)
Foster care costs the public money, whereas adoption is a huge moneymaker for certain attorneys and even, in the United Kingdom and here, for social service agencies (see this article on the blowback that resulted from rewarding people too handsomely for placing foster kids in adoptive homes). So the mentality that it’s always best to get kids out of foster care and into adoption is a mixed bag. On the one hand, we have ample evidence that life in foster care is hard, and we know that many adoptive homes are great places to save suffering children from such instability.
(I should confess: when I was fifteen, there were problems in my home, and my father did not want to take me in, so he drove me to a “boarding school” in Maine, where I stayed while my home situation might improve. It was very hard to feel abandoned, essentially, at the moment that my dad dropped me off at the main office with a check, but would it have made sense for some couple to adopt me at that point? In the end I returned to my mothers’ home and finished high school early, going to college as a de facto emancipated minor.)
On the other hand, we have much to worry about when we envision rushing kids out of foster care into gay adoption. Gay adoptive parents have proved just as capable as straight foster parents of kidnapping, murder, abuse, rape, child pornography, and neglect involving the children they acquire. So everything that’s painful about foster care with straight people is also painful about gay adoption; the difference is that in a gay adoption, the child loses forever his chance at having a mom and dad. Whether adopters are gay or straight, it’s not a good idea to incentivize social services agencies’ power to remove children from troubled homes and transfer all parental equivalence to a new home without making a good-faith effort to repair problems with the birth family.
It sounds ominous to be in the position of “aging out” of foster care without having been adopted. But it’s not necessarily as bad as it sounds. You can still maintain contact with foster parents, but once you are emancipated, it is your choice to do that (not something forced on you by law), and you also have the choice to rebuild your relationship with your birth kin network, the way I rebuilt a relationship with my father as an adult. My mother’s lesbian partner never adopted me, and that was probably the right decision.
Robert Oscar Lopez edits English Manif.