Same sex couples and adoption...
Since the Civil Partnership Act of 2005 was passed in the UK, thousands of gay couples have taken the plunge and tied the knot, legally confirming their civil union. The controversial Act marked a momentous milestone in equality between the heterosexual and homosexual communities, bridging the gap and allowing same sex couples to enjoy the marital benefits that until then were reserved solely for heterosexual partners.
With the path paved for further advances, heads are now turning towards gay adoption and the ethics of allowing same sex couples to adopt children.
To the surprise of many, homosexual and heterosexual alike, gay couples have never actually been prevented from adopting children. The Adoption and Children Act of 2002 supports all couples' application to adopt the many children who find themselves in homes and orphanages, in need of a loving and caring family. Previous to this Act, it was necessary for the applying couple to have married or entered into a civil union in order to adopt, however now it is possible for all couples, gay or straight, married or unmarried, to adopt children.
Gay adoption: the process...
If you are a gay couple and wish to adopt a child, you must first apply for adoption through your local authority. The process is long and the correct documents must be in order before your application is reviewed.
Once the application is accepted, your individual situation will come under review and it is necessary for you to demonstrate a loving, caring and most importantly stable relationship. After the assessments are carried out, your application is passed to an Adoption Panel and a child placed under your care.
After a period of time decided by the Adoption Panel, you will have the opportunity to apply for a full adoption order.
The process of child adoption is very lengthy and can place an enormous amount of stress on any couple. It is a decision that should not be made lightly.
Gay adoption: the reality...
Although the law allows gay couples to legally adopt a child, the reality paints a very different picture. With many adoption agencies being Catholic, the law requires that they do not discriminate against gay couples' applications. However, in 2007 when the issue came to a head, many Catholic adoption agencies threatened to close down rather than publicly welcome applications from same sex couples. The controversy highlights the growing gap between the Catholic church and the gay community.
Across the pond in the USA, the issue of gay adoption is also receiving much media attention in the run up to the 2008 presidential elections. In July 2008, Republican candidate John McCain openly confirmed his firm stance against gay adoption in America.
In an interview, he stated: I think that we've proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no, I don't believe in gay adoption. His opinion sparked outrage on a worldwide level, especially as McCain is an adoptive father himself.
LGBT groups such as the Family Equality Council lashed out, saying: We are a nation of blended and multi-generational families, adoptive and foster families, and families headed by single parents, divorced parents, unmarried parents, same-sex couples and more. As a Presidential candidate, he should seek to honour and support the many kinds of families that exist, rather than dismiss the vast majority of households in this country as second-tier.
Whilst the law realises that gay couples can indeed provide the enduring, loving support that adopting a child requires, it seems that the Catholic church is adamant on living in the dark ages and continuing its long standing discrimination against the LGBT community.
The question is: how long can this last...