A blog post by columnist Alison Bezzina about adoptions from Ethiopia raised the prospect of yet another Church versus Gay Lobby skirmish. In the post – entitled ‘Children of God?’ – Bezzina lists the difficulties that single prospective parents encounter when going through the adoption process.
Only Malta and Russia are accepting adoptions by single Maltese prospective adoptive parents
- Claire Bonello
Under Maltese law, both married couples and individuals are allowed to adopt, regardless of sexual orientation. In fact, there have been cases where lesbian couples have adopted children.
However, Bezzina says that the adoption approval process is highly subjective and that revealing one’s homosexual orientation may hinder a successful outcome. She also says many countries prioritise the adoption of children by married couples.
At the moment only Malta and Russia are accepting adoptions by single Maltese prospective adoptive parents. Bezzina says that now it has become even more difficult for these prospective parents because “the Church-run orphanage, through which the Maltese adopt from Ethiopia, has suddenly stopped accepting applications from single people”.
From here it was a short hop and skip away, to speculation about bigoted nuns preferring to keep starving Ethiopian children in orphanages rather than letting them be adopted by loving single parents. There was also much heavy-handed hinting at this decision being a sort of ‘Keep Away’ sign for prospective parents who are gay.
Looking at it that way, it seemed rather damning for the Church. How could it turn away individuals who were ready to open their hearts and their home to countless children languishing in orphanages? On what basis was it granting favourable treatment to married couples as opposed to single applicants?
We’ll come to the issue of adoption by single people later, but it would be a good idea to look into the situation properly to establish the facts before sounding off. Many people are up in arms because it is alleged that the prohibition of single parent adoption has come from Church quarters. But has it really?
Practically every website about international adoptions states that married couples are preferred in Ethiopian adoptions, although they must have been married for at least two years, and preferably five.
Ethiopian government policy regarding adoptions by unmarried women is one of the issues being studied as part of the government’s current review of all adoption regulations and practices. It is unclear whether Ethiopian government’s policy about single adoptive mothers will change, and if so, when it might change.
The US State Department cautions that the Ethiopian government does not allow adoptions by openly gay or lesbian individuals or couples. So unless these sites are all reporting incorrect information, it would appear that the preference for adoption by married couples emanates from the Ethiopian authorities and not from some gay-hating cabal ensconced in Malta.
Perhaps some prospective adoptive parents have noticed a slowdown in adoptions from Ethiopia and have attributed this to some anti-singles directive to the Ethiopian orphanage.
In this regard, it is worth noting that last year the Ethiopian Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs announced plans to reduce inter-country adoptions by 90 per cent as from March 2011 by establishing a quota for processing adoptions.
These cutbacks were a response to indications of widespread fraud in the adoption process. Essentially the Ethiopian authorities were becoming wary of what they perceived to be baby-selling and tried to put a stop to it. Instead of imposing a complete moratorium on adoptions as other countries have done in the past, they cut down on the processing of adoption documents in a big way.
This all shows that there has been a drastic decrease in the adoption by all prospective adoptive parents and that whenever reporting on such issues a little bit of context would not go amiss.
• The issue of single parent adoption is a thorny one and whenever I voice an opinion on the topic, I am often dismissed as someone ‘smug-married’ who has not gone through the heartbreak of trying to adopt a child.
So I asked a friend who is a single mother what she thought about the issue. Although her single status is not of her own choosing, my friend has resisted the urge to shrink into a bitter cloud of misery and is one of the brightest, wittiest and kindest people I know. Her child is a joy to behold and reflects her mother’s love and warmth.
My friend has always dreamt of a big family with children tumbling joyfully through her life. When her marriage crumbled, she contemplated adopting in future. And yet she never did.
What stopped her from pursuing her dream was not her ineligibility for the adoption process or some bureaucratic hurdle, but the realisation that she could not provide the time, the economic stability, or the security needed by a child who had already been deprived of his birth parents.
Ultimately that’s the kind of attitude prospective adoptive parents should have – whether they are married or not.