No Such Thing As An Opinion!

Should gay couples be allowed to adopt? Should heterosexual couples be allowed to adopt?

Once in a while you hear people opine that gay couples shouldn't be allowed to adopt. Let's investigate this idea.

Oftentimes, such a discussion involves analysis of gay couples and their potential impact on children.

However, a fair analysis would analyse not only the impact of gay parents on children, but the impact of heterosexual parents on children, for comparison.  One should never just assume that the status quo (in this case, heterosexual parents) is the ideal simply because of historical dominance.

So, what is the ideal sexual orientation of a child's parents?  Well, I haven't reviewed research on the subject, and I suspect there likely has been such research conducted.  My aim here is to simply use logic to guide the way for anyone that might want to investigate further.

Is it ideal for a child to have heterosexual parents?  It's very plausible.  After all, since it's mostly heterosexual couples that give birth to children, it's plausible that (in some ways) a child may benefit most by being reared by both a man and a woman. For example, in one respect it would be beneficial to have parents of both sexes:  the sexes think differently, and having parents of both sexes would aid in children's social understanding of and communication with both sexes.

But when it comes to adoption, the question isn't whether it's heterosexuals or gays that are the ideal parents.  When determining who should be allowed to adopt, the question should be this:  Do the benefits of allowing gay adoption (or heterosexual adoption) outweigh the costs?

In order to answer this, supply and demand factor in the equation.  Because there is a long waiting list to adopt children, the demand from parents far exceeds the supply of children for adoption.  This means that society can afford to be very selective in determining who they allow to adopt, and they may be able to limit adoptive parents to whomever the ideal is determined to be.

One concern you sometimes hear is this: that adoptive children of gay couples will be more likely to be gay.  Although this is plausible, I think the likelihood of this being the case is extremely low.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if children reared by gay couples are not at all more likely to be gay than children reared by heterosexual couples.  My reasons for making this claim have to do with the abundance of, and nature of, the evidence that shows a strong genetic basis of homosexuality.

Now, it is true that the concordance rate of homosexuality is less than 100%.  That means that when you locate an identical twin who is gay, and then look at his/her identical twin, less than 100% of the time the second twin is gay.  This means that, indisputably, the environment is one factor that influences homosexuality.

Now, I don't know what the actual concordance rate is, only that it's less than 100%.  However, I suspect that the concordance rate is likely very high, so high that it would suggest a very strong influence of genetics toward homosexuality.  Logically, that is to be expected.

I suspect that the environmental factors causing homosexuality are not what you might think.  I doubt the factors have to do with things like what toys the children are bought, the sexual orientation of the couples a child is exposed to, etc.  I suspect that the environmental factors that are an influence toward homosexuality are things like the level of hormones in the womb during pregnancy. And those hormones might be affected by many other environmental factors including the mother's nutrition, medication, even the amount of red beef she eats.

And the environmental influences toward homosexuality may not be enough, by themselves, to cause homosexuality.   I strongly suspect that one must have a genetic predisposition for homosexuality in order for there to even be a possibility for one to be homosexual.  I suspect that in some, or all, cases, when one has this genetic predisposition, the environmental factors act as a trigger causing homosexuality.

So, although plausible, I would be ok with assuming that most children adopted by homosexual couples are very likely not more likely to become homosexual. Some people might suggest that it's prudent to prevent gays from adopting children as a precaution against them being more likely to become gay.  Given that we don't know what the environmental influences toward homosexuality are (as far as I know), you could make that case.  It's debatable.

What if we assume one doesn't have to worry about children of adoptive parents being more likely to be gay? What other factors should influence adoption criteria?  (I don't even like to write things like "worrying about children being gay", as if there's something wrong with being gay; there isn't.  But the truth is, I think it's safe to say more people would prefer to have heterosexual rather than homosexual children).

Well, there are many criteria that ideal adoptive parents should have.

Let's look at lesbian couples.  Given that women tend to have more of a nurturing inclination then men, one might argue that lesbian couples might be more ideal than a heterosexual couple when it comes to nurturing (although I think it's fair to say that lesbian women tend to have more masculine traits than heterosexual women, I would think that they likely still have more of a nurturing inclination than heterosexual men).

Another advantage that lesbian couples have is this: the chance of one of them molesting their children is very low.  In fact, one study found it to be zero.  I don't know what the odds are that a male parent would molest his children, but I'm sure it must be above zero, and it's likely high enough to be a factor of concern in regard to adoption.

Traditionally, a male parent was instrumental in offering physical protection to the child and the mother (which in turn allowed the mother to be able to raise the child).  In today's society, however, in order for the family to be physically protected, men aren't needed nearly as much.

So what benefits do male parents provide? One benefit is huge:  Financial support.  Men earn more than women, and hence are able to better support the children and the mother (who in turn is better able to support the child).

What about gay male adoptive parents?  Compared to heterosexual and lesbian couples, would two gay men provide the most financial support to their children?  They very well may (although many gay men work in traditionally lower paid female fields, I suspect that a gay man still tends to earn more than a heterosexual or lesbian woman).  But given that men are more likely to molest children, and given that a gay couple has two, not one, male parents, the likelihood that a member of a gay male couple will molest their children is likely greater than the likelihood that a member of a lesbian or heterosexual couple would do the same.

The adoption issue is a complex topic, with many factors that should be studied, including factors I haven't studied here.  Not only do I not know whether gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to adopt, I don't even know if one should assume that heterosexual couples would tend to be better adoptive parents than gay and/or lesbian couples.

One thing I feel more sure about is this: I think it's likely that the well-being of the child should be the first priority when it comes to studying this issue. I don't think that many people would disagree.  Consider that a child has most of its life to look forward to, while a potential adoptive parent likely has only about 40-50 years of lifespan to look forward to.  Using that measure alone, the adoptive decisions will have a greater effect on the children than on the parents (everything else being equal.  However, not all other factors are equal, but I am not going to get into such detail here, although readers can feel free to expand.  One factor to consider is whether the joy provided to a couple allowed to adopt is more valuable than the quality of well-being provided to a child).

To conclude, I think it's likely that heterosexual couples tend to provide both nurturing (female) and financial support (male) but also a noticeable level of risk of the child being molested.  I think it's likely that lesbian couples tend to provide an abundance of nurturing, less financial support, but almost no risk of the child being molested.  I think it's likely that gay male couples tend to provide the most financial support of the three couples being compared, but also provide the greatest likelihood that the child will be molested.

It appears that heterosexual, lesbian and gay male couples each provide their own set of costs and benefits to be considered.

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