Raising Kids – We’re Just as Good at it

I’m of a certain age now where many of my heterosexual chums are doing the nasty and giving birth.

Just this weekend I spent nearly 24 hours with my friend and her new born. Cute as she was, it really made me appreciate the hard work a mother has to put in. I for one have never had to multitask as much. As enduring as the winding, the crying and the sterilising bottles was, believe it or not, kind of fun yet daunting, I couldn’t help get a little bit broody. Now I’m not saying I want a child, at least not now, try explaining all that debauchery to a kid, however, I couldn’t resist having a think about adoption and what it means for same sex couples.

Back in 2002 the Adoption and Children Act provided that an application to adopt a child in England and Wales could be made by either a single person or a couple. The previous condition that the couple be married was dropped, meaning a same-sex couple could also apply, so it’s all good right?

There is still a lot of prejudice in society surrounding gay adoption, but that’s more about the taboo of two men or two women raising a child. Over in the U.S., according to the 2012 census, only 110,000  live with gay parents. The total amount of adopted children in U.S. households is less than 1% who live with same-sex parents, so they are still the minority. Despite these low figures in the states, earlier this year University of Cambridge’s Centre for Family Research, published in a report by the British Association of Adoption and Fostering, found (surprisingly to you and me) there was no notified difference in academic strengths, behaviour or attitudes in children and their studies from same sex parents compared to straight.

We can all assume every child is open to some sort of ridicule growing up, you know the ginger jokes, weight, height, race, in fact remember back at school how as a kid, you were inevitably exposed to some sort of bullying somewhere along the line. So not just wanting to think I’ll adopt a child and it will all be perfect, I wanted to explore these prejudices a little further.

Looking in to this topic in preparation for writing this article, I was pretty shocked by the ideologies that surround same sex adoption. When discussions like this come to the table it really does bring out people’s true colours and their true homophobia. One of the articles I came across was from March in the Independent, with the subject being adoption. Most of the comments were, let’s say less than positive about the idea of gay adoption, with the odd counter pro-gay comment thrown in, but please, prepare yourselves for the negative ones.

“I guess you could groom children to accept anything is normal or natural. When do such people start demanding the right to marry their pets and livestock?”’

Yes that’s right, wanting to be with the person you love and be, well, heteronormative is just like wanting to marry a cow.

“Actually there are dozens of studies indicating that children of homosexual parents suffer bullying, sexual abuse and low academic performance.”

And one more, an obvious one to take a hit at but all the same:

“Sticking your reproductive organ into waste products is not normal.”

I think you are missing the point here dear. I think we can quite safely assume the majority of readers of this article in the Independent are homophobic bigots.

So what are the positives of same sex couples adopting? Well, perhaps the fact that people, gay or straight, plan to adopt a child means they will have financially planned to have one and will be able to offer at least a more financially stable environment to bring one up in. Secondly, the process of adoption can be long and often unpredictable. Be under no illusion it’s as easy as portrayed in Coronation Street. You’ve really got to want to it. Thirdly love is love, and children being brought up in an environment surrounded by love are better than the couples we see arguing over who the daddy is on Jeremy Kyle. Who says there is more love between hetros than homos anyway?

Finally, seriously Britain, we still think that gay equals child abuser? It’s 2013. Are we still saying all Australians are criminals too? Laws may change to enable adoption for the gays easier, and research can continue to suggest we are just as good at parenting, but it seems we still have a long way to go to eradicate the stereotypes and prejudices that surround both the gay lifestyle and same sex adoption.

To find out more about LGBT adoption visit newfamilysocial.org.uk