Children need and deserve for both parents raising them to have full parental rights. Children need this regardless of their parents' sexual orientation. Thus, same sex couples are fighting for what they are calling "adoption equality."
Every child, however, also deserves an unaltered true record of his birth, regardless of who has legal parental rights.Traditional adoption is not the best route to achieve these goals and the "adoption equality" terminology is confusing and misappropriates adoption reform terminology.
Adoption, as it is currently practiced in the U.S., disallows adopted people access to their own authentic birth certificate that identifies their blood kin, is necessary to develop a family medical history, and prevent unknowingly committing incest. Adoption laws seal adopted persons' original and authentic birth certificates from them and allows states to issue so-called "amended" birth certificates that name adoptive parents as the parents of birth.
For decades adoptees have been fighting this lie that their lives are based on and now same sex couples are seeking to perpetuate and further this discriminatory practice.
Having succeeded in getting SCOTUS to pass the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) making marriage equality a reality nationwide, same sex couples are now pursuing what they are calling "adoption equality" (though many, if not most, gay couples much prefer surrogacy so as to have babies that are actually related to them).
The LGBT community have been adopting long before marriage equality. Gay men began adopting HIV positive babies and children and those with AIDS in the 80s when the disease was at epidemic proportions in the U.S. and Europe. In a short time, this once marginalized group has moved relatively quickly to center stage and no longer needs or wants to accept the children no else wants.
Some religiously based and funded adoption agencies are closing their doors altogether rather than be forced to place children in same sex homes.
Michigan recently passed a law letting state-funded adoption agencies turn away prospective parents based on the agencies' religious beliefs - effectively giving agents of the state a license to discriminate against gay couples. Virginia and North Dakota have similar laws in place, and other states are considering them.
Despite these bans, same sex adoption adds to the demand, increasing coercion, exploitation, and corruption including child trafficking for adoption and perpetuates what many feel is a failed social experiment.
The bigger issue for same sex couples - the crux of "adoption equality" (aka "family equality") - is having both of their names on their children's birth certificates. The challenge is that birth certificates currently have one field for "mother" and another for "father" - not two of each. LGBTs seek to change these designations to "Parent 1" and "Parent 2" creating a biological impossibility (when both parents are the same gender) on a child's birth certificate when parenting rights can be accomplished with a certificate of parental rights without issuing a falsified certificate of birth.
Who is Adopting Whom?
There will always be children who, sadly, have no family able to provide safe care for them. There are approximately 100,000 children in state care in the U.S. who could be adopted. In Michigan alone there are 14,000 children in foster care, 3,000 of whom could be adopted and at a far lower cost than adopting an infant or a child from overseas.
These children are not, however, being sought by infertile couples, single by choice women, or gay couples. In order to feel "equal," and with a hope of achieving better bonding, these adopters seek newborns which are in very short demand. Access to birth control and an end of the era of "unwed" mothers has had a marked effect on the "availability" or supply of such babies to meet an ever increasing demand. Fox News "Special Report: The Adoption Gap" states:
Some reports estimate the ratio of parents to babies is as dramatic as 32 prospective parents to every 1 adoptable baby. While the number of older children in the foster care system, is multiplying faster than most states can accommodate.
Equality in adoption is not, has never been, and should never be, about the adults who adopt or wish to, despite the term now being miss-appropriated by the LGBT community.
Since adoption records first became sealed in the 1930s, adoptees have fought for the equal right to their own original birth certificate. This movement is known as "Adoptee Rights," "Adoptee Access," and "Adoptee Equality." See for instance, New York Adoption Equality, a grassroots organization run by and for adoptees.
The fight to undo the laws that unfairly deprive adopted persons the same rights as their non-adopted peers in terms of access to their own authentic birth certificates began in 1953 with the formation of a search and support network called Orphan Voyage founded by Jean Paton, known as the pioneer or mother of the adoptee rights movement.
Marriage for same sex couples first became an issue in 1973, according to the website Freedom to Marry, when Maryland banned gay marriage. That's a full twenty years after the adoptee rights movement was born. According to the Wikipedia entry on Same Sex Marriage in the U.S.:
The subject became increasingly prominent in U.S. politics following the 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court decision in Baehr v. Lewin that suggested the possibility that the state's prohibition might be unconstitutional.
DOMA was introduced in 1996.
Both of these movements are multi-faceted and have evolved over time. Gays have had to - and still have to - fight against physical abuse based on sexual orientation discrimination. Thus marriage was, understandably, not the first issue and adoption concerns followed that.
Similarly, the focus for adoptees has historically been driven by the need of adopted persons to obtain their original birth certificates that states first sealed from the public and then from the adoptee himself. Ending the falsification of the birth certificate to begin with is a relatively newer component of the adoptee rights movement.
Parental Equality, via Certificate of Parentage
Let's begin by being perfectly clear: There is no "right" to adopt a child for anyone regardless of sexual orientation or marital status.
It is imperative to put the focus where it belongs - on the children - and begin from there. Children who are adopted or conceived using purchased genetic material need to have the legal protection of both parents raising them. And, they deserve to have this goal accomplished - and it can be - without disregarding and obliterating the truth of their biological heritage. One right does not need to supersede or disrespect the other.. Children need and deserve both. Lawmakers who care about the best interest of children need to enact a solution that provides both: legal protection of caretakers and truth and honesty of genetic heritage. The solution that provides both, and eliminates changing birth certificate forms to accommodate fields other than existing mother and father, is certificates of parentage.
Certificates of parentage, or certificate of adoption, or certificate of adoptive parentage would be an addendum to a child's birth certificate and used to register children in school and to obtain a new social security card in the same way as an order of guardianship does or a name change for marriage or for any other reason.
Many grandparents are raising their grandchildren without adoption and without defiling their grandchild's birth certificates or issuing a new one that pretends the grandparent gave birth to their grandchild. They accomplish all they need - all parental rights to make medical and educations decisions - with guardianship.
A certificate of adoption parentage would be used to register the child in school and obtain a social security card. It likely may be needed again to obtain a drivers' license and passport. Once those documents are secured, one never need show it again. And if the child chooses to have the same name as his parents, that could be accomplished with a simple name change.
The guardianship model has no losers as does the current adoption model. It is thus a far better model to replicate. Both guardianship and name change are simple and inexpensive as neither requires an attorney. A parental certificate would accomplish the goals of those adopting without trampling the rights of the children they are committing to care for. It's a win-win. No one has to lose any rights for the other to have the rights they need. The child's original birth certificate remains intact to trace his genetic roots and the parents raising him have everything they need to be recognized as his parents.
With Mississippi still banning same sex marriage despite DOMA, LGBTs remain a marginalized and discriminated against segment of the population (albeit one with a great deal of clout). As such, it is incumbent on the leaders of the gay rights community to do their homework and understand the long battle for the human and civil rights of adopted persons. Sealed records and falsified birth certificates that list social and legal parents as parents of birth create a sub-class of citizens that are denied the same rights as all others to their true original birth certificates. Adoption discrimination impacts internationally adopted persons in ways that subject them to being deported.
We need to stop perpetuating this demeaning discrimination on still more generations of adopted persons. No one should have a false certificate of birth, an altered, untrue vital record. History - including the historical record of one's birth - should never be falsely altered. Instead, we need to support the rights of adopted persons and become part of the solution not part of the problem.
Parental equality can and should be achieved via a certificate of parenting, without continuing to perpetuate the lie that obliterates adopted persons' true and authentic birth certificates and denies them access to their accurate and updated family medical history.
It is incumbent upon the leaders of the LGBT community to recognize and properly identify what they are seeking, need and deserve: PARENTAL EQUALITY, not adoption equality!