Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Independent: Gay couples and adopting children
Sunday, 27 October 2013, 09:16 , by Stephen Calleja

Raising children is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. It is a 24/7 exercise that starts from the moment of conception and only finishes with the grave. Children remain “yours” even when they become grown-ups and have their own families; if anything, the thinking and worrying multiplies when they also become fathers and mothers.

Nobody teaches anyone to be a parent. It is a case of trial and error, a constant give-and-take struggle that has its ups and downs. For some it is more ups, for others it is more downs. It is a wonderful feeling when one’s children achieve some goal, but it is likewise so upsetting when they get in some kind of trouble.

Children have their needs, and often these needs contrast with those of the parents. Sometimes it is called the generational gap; I believe it is also a question of characters and the willingness – on both sides – to understand each other. The important thing is that parents start communicating with their children early. This leads to trust that gradually builds up over many years. A parent who speaks out about issues troubling him or her in front of the children has a better chance that the children will turn to him or her with their own difficulties.

It is easy to become a parent, but it is so hard to be a good one. Many fathers and mothers fail – individually or as a couple – either because they are unable to find common ground with their children in spite of their efforts, or else they are simply not interested in trying. Selfishness is the worst enemy of good parenting, and when parents seek their own interests first it is very likely that they will not be good fathers and mothers.

The presentation of the “gay marriage” bill by the government has opened up a debate on adoptions by same-sex couples, which is one of the items that will form part of the law. I will not go into the merits of whether the government has the mandate for this, given that adoptions by same-sex couples was not part of the election programme. I will make just two political comments. The first is that it seems that initially the Labour Party, and more recently the Nationalist Party, are bending over backwards to please the gay and lesbian community. I don’t think they are doing it because they are convinced this is the way forward; they are doing it just for votes. The second is that this “gay marriage” bill is one of the topics the government is hyping up intentionally – together with new hunting regulations and illegal migration issues – to deflect attention from the core problem the country is facing, which is the country’s economic performance.

My main concern, however, is not the political angle. It is the effect that the gay marriage bill will have on children, the most vulnerable people in our society.

I have already said that it does not necessarily follow that heterosexual couples make good parents. Many are far from a shining example to their sons and daughters and, in this respect, society should do more to protect children who are being raised by families that do not care for them as much as they should.

I am also of the opinion that there are many gay and lesbian couples who would make good parents, and who would give any children they adopt much more than many disinterested heterosexual couples give to their natural offspring.

Having said this, however, I have serious reservations with whether gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to adopt.

I know that they have been doing this for years. In quite a bizarre way, gays and lesbians are allowed to adopt children on an individual basis. The law as it is today prohibits gays and lesbians from teaming up as a couple to file an application for adoption. So the loophole in the system is that they apply as individuals, achieve their goal in having a child under their care, and still live with their partner in the same home with the adopted child. This child is under the legal responsibility of only one of the partners, but the three live together as a “family”.

What the bill being discussed in parliament is proposing is that this charade is eliminated from the statute books and, once the bill becomes law, gay and lesbian couples will have the possibility to adopt children together. It will also open up the opportunity for gay and lesbian couples who are already raising children – but with only one of the partners legally recognised as being responsible for the child – to have the law identify the second partner as the second parent.

I am not contesting the right of gay and lesbian couples to have a homosexual relationship. That is their choice, and as adults they have every right to choose a consenting partner with whom they want to live and have their preferred sexual relationship. I am also not contesting the idea that gay and lesbian partners should have civil rights regarding inheritance, material ownership and next of kin matters.

But I personally draw the line when it comes to children being adopted and raised by gays and lesbians, both as individuals and as couples.

I think that children who are raised by partners of the same sex have a great disadvantage compared to other children, in spite of the efforts by the gay or lesbian couples involved. It is probable that they will suffer from the psychological point of view, not to mention that they are more likely to be subjected to bullying and discrimination than children from families where the partners are a man and a woman. Sharing a household with two men or two women is not in the children’s best interests and would make them more vulnerable than their peers.

If it was right for two men or two women to have children I am sure that Mother Nature would have found a way to have men conceive with other men and women to conceive with other women.

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