Friday, November 14, 2008

Yet Another Adoption Tragedy

Arkansas has three times as many children needing foster care and adoption than it has available families to take them in.

But, on Tuesday, November 4th, Arkansas voters passed by a 57% majority, a proposition stating:

Section 1: Adoption and foster care of minors.
(a) A minor may not be adopted or placed in a foster home if the individual seeking to adopt or to serve as a foster parent is cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of a marriage which is valid under the constitution and laws of this state.

As stated in the New York Times:

The measure, which voters overwhelmingly approved and which prevents unmarried cohabitating couples from adopting or fostering children, won strong support from conservatives, exit polls found. The ban affects all unmarried couples but was written with the intent of preventing gay couples from raising children in Arkansas.

“We believe that the best place for a child to grow up is in a stable home with a married mother and father,” said Jerry Cox, president of Family Council Action Committee, which obtained 95,000 signatures to place the proposal on state ballots. “But we also believe in blunting a gay agenda that we see at work in other states with regard to marriage and adoption issues.”

Arkansas is not the first state with such a policy. Florida prohibits adoption by applicants who identify themselves as gay, Utah prevents unmarried cohabitated couples from adopting and Mississippi specifically bans same-sex couples from adopting.

My opinion on all this? I believe all children benefit from a loving home with parents who care. I believe children who are left floundering in a foster care system of substandard care when they could be in a stable, loving family present a tragic face for our nation which claims to care. I don’t care if the family is made up of a married couple, a single person, two men, two women, or two people of different races as long as that family is stable and loving and cares for their children. I also believe that the usage of the term "sexual partner outside of marriage" is particularly egregious because the government is put in the position of investigating the private lives of people who reside together.

The only losers in this whole situation are the children.


Sheri said...


This makes me angry on so many levels. My first response? Yay, cause Lord knows everyone who has their own child is a married male/female couple and perfect!


KittyDobson said...

Hi there, I thought you might be interested in this, I know I found it very interesting and its related to your post...

thats the blog, I was unable to link the to the posts directly. The two you should read are Proposition Hate and the post dated right after it called Wow, hope you find it interesting!

Anonymous said...

I have the opposite interpretation of this, Deborah: "I also believe that the usage of the term "sexual partner outside of marriage" is particularly egregious because the government is put in the position of investigating the private lives of people who reside together."

Government is thus relieved of investigating private lives if applying couples simply produce a marriage license. MORE privacy investigation is required without said certificate.

Do you know any more stats from AR than the one you quote? I wonder if the numbers of children awaiting adoption are largely from non-married unions. This law may prevent them from circling among a population that is less secure.

The idea that every geographic area must live by the exact same social regulations - that the people of that area cannot choose to regulate itself as it sees best - that is a wrong in my opinion.

This law just might help children in Arkansas. I think you judge according to your personal experience. I agree with you that many single adults make excellent foster and adoptive parents (like you).

Potentially there exists a social history in Arkansas that prompts its voting population to regulate in this manner for the BENEFIT of the children in their state. My opinion is that they know what is best for their children.

Providing for children whose parents do not is not a new social problem. The media make money from publicizing every tragic failure.

You are in the unique position to hightlight cases where systems work and save children. I'd like to see more of that. More solutions oriented post.

Your own story, every day, every occasion is an expression of a positive outcome for 3 children saved. Thank you, Deborah, for saving those 3 children, and giving the world another good human being in your oldest son.

Ashley's Mom said...

Kitty, thank you for the link. That gentleman is an incredible writer, and I was especially moved by his 'Wow' post.

Barbara, I will do some more research and see what I can find. One thing I would like to see if social workers (private or otherwise) doing homestudies and deciding among their agencies if a 'family' is appropriate. I don't understand the government having to intrude on that process. My home study was quite exhaustive - all three times - and the decision to place children in my home was solely the decision of my adoption agencies.

I would just prefer that individual, case by case approach rather than a legislative approach. The legislative approach worries me and makes me wonder what might come next via legistlation...

Anonymous said...

"I would just prefer that individual, case by case approach rather than a legislative approach. The legislative approach worries me and makes me wonder what might come next via legistlation..."

That's a fair point, Deborah.

But isn't the foster system totally government (legislated) controlled? Government (mostly state-level) rely-on (pay) private foster and adoption agencies to do their work. If I am misunderstanding this arrangement, please let me know.

The legislative slippery-slope is worth concern. But don't miss my point - why should you in VA point the finger at AR and call foul? It's not like the system worked perfectly BEFORE this law was just passed - ie - "Arkansas has three times as many children needing foster care and adoption than it has available families to take them in."

Whoever in AR proposed this law must think it will help the children of the state. I choose to believe this law has no other underlying agenda.

I do not think we can make the world perfect by legislation of social problems. There needs to be some parameters, some boundaries, and some systematic way to catch the fall-out, er, bad term, the real people and children who cannot take care of themselves.

I just think that throwing cyber rocks at a state's new legislation has little benefit. You do better than that most posts.

Ashley's Mom said...

Barbara, while we agree on many things, I believe one point we do not agree upon is legistation. You said, "I do not think we can make the world perfect by legislation of social problems." I agree with that. But, I do believe we can make the world worse through bad legislation.

I also do believe there was an agenda behind this particular legislation, an agenda that includes reducing the rights of people with a different sexual orientation.

Yes, all states have problems. Today's post just highlighted Arkansas. I'm sure I could find similar stories of failure of the foster care system in every other state, mine included.

What worries me is that children who may have already been in what I consider a stable foster care placement, albeit with people who are gay, may now be moved yet again. And that is one huge issue in all our foster care systems. My oldest daughter is testament to that. Frequent and multiple placements can be so damaging to already fragile children.

Thanks for the conversation on this point. I like when people express their views - whether they agree or disagree with mine!

Lily said...

I read the blog from the link that Kitty Dobson left.
When if comes to kids, kids that need loving, caring, kind, gentle people to give them a safe home I don't care what their color is, who they voted for, who they love, if they are single or married; as long as they can care and love a child the way they need to be love and cared for.
It should be about the child, the safety of the child, the welfare of the child, will the child feel loved and cared for. It takes someone special to adopt a child, especially a child with special needs.
Not every typical male/female married couple are capable of giving love and care to a child, even a natural child, just as not every gay couple or single person is capable. It has to be the RIGHT person.
This coming from a person who belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and stands behind the church in most things, not all. Please do not judge or lump all people into one group. I don't.

Lily said...

I guess I should make clear that when I said please do not lump all people into one group... I wasn't referring to you, just all people in general. Wouldn't that be nice :-)

Ashley's Mom said...

Lily, I understood what you meant :) Thanks for your comments!

KittyDobson said...

What I was wondering after reading your post was lets say a couple are married, legally in the state they are in, and this legislation comes up. one of the couple decides they are gay and are ready to move onto a new life with their partner, they have children, either adopted or in foster care, the parent who is gay wants them but the other parent, who remains straight is a drug addict/abusive/unfit. Who would keep the child? Would they blindly prefer the straight parent? Also i think it is AWFUL how they deny single parents and children to be matched into loving homes. There are many people who would make wonderful, caring, supportive parents who are now being denied the chance to fulfil the their dreams of parenting and the kids who are denied parents. I know a lot of places have more single parents applying then married so they just be keeping more kids in foster care for much longer than needed. It makes me sad, that kids, only a year younger then me are being aged out of foster care and going out into the world jaded and unprepared with no where to go...

Ashley's Mom said...

Kitty, one thing that has always saddened me greatly is hearing stories of teenagers in foster care, teenagers who just want a family, but the reality is they probably will never find one.

When I picture them being turned out of the foster care system, on their own and with no support system such as a family can provide, I just want to cry.

Even if one of those foster teens is lucky enough to go off to college, how sad is it when their classmates go home for holidays and those teens have no where to go.

That's why I wish more people would consider adopting older kids. It's not easy, but the rewards for everyone involved can be huge.

Anonymous said...

Deborah's correct that right now there are teens in foster care; many have stories we would consider tragic. But, Kitty, here's what I want to say in response to your comment-

Oh, for heaven's sake! Let's think up every possible (obscure)scenario and say, what if?

There are tragic teens in foster care in AR right now! How many? We don't know. More or less than another state or all states? Doesn't matter. Every ONE matters. Does the new law apply to the ones who are currently in homes with unmarried partners? Don't know. USUALLY, laws have a lag time before implementation and often, grandfather clauses that prevent children being ripped from foster parents that are good.

Kitty helps makes my point. How many AR children are in homes of yet-to-be-declared gay person with "a drug addict/abusive/unfit" straight spouse? Ahem.

I'm a therapist and into EFFECTIVENESS. How does this discussion help those children, Deborah?

The media uses tragic stories to sell their publications. Those commercials you showed last week may have encouraged someone to consider adoption.

In my opinion, "Yet Another Adoption Tragedy" is so ineffective for encouraging ANY one towards adoption so as to raise the hairs on my spine.

If you want to support gay adoptions, say so. I will support your words on that issue. Don't be fooled by the media that exposing tragedy is the best means for resolving social problems.

Ashley's Mom said...

Barbara, what I support is adoption of children into loving families. It doesn't matter to me the makeup of those families - gay, straight, one parent, two parents, grandparents, whatever.

Throughout the life of this blog, I have highlighted both good and bad adoption stories. I want to see both sides - I want my readers to see both sides.

Our adoption and foster care systems are sorely in need of reform. The government has tried in the past to affect that reform by insisting that children be returned to their birth families, often at any cost. Then that same government did an about face and said, "OK, we've got to get these kids out of foster care." That, unfortunately, got a lot of kids into permanent, yet not good, placements.

Like many of our other social programs in this county, discussion need to happen and the people most affected - in this case, the children - need to have a say. In all my years as an adoptive parent, as a resource parent for other adoptive families, and as a disability activist, I have never seen children asked their opinions.

When I find positive stories, I share them. But, when I find stories that I personally find abhorent, I share them also. To me, the challenge will always be finding a balance between the two. But, I just can't bury my head in the sand and pretend the bad doesn't exist. And I realize that 'bad' is my definition of such and that others may disagree.

I welcome those discussions and believe that through them, we will also come to realize what, if any, changes are needed to help make our world a better place.

Anonymous said...

I remember going through the adoption study and being shocked at how totally invasive and at times ridiculous it was. Knowing that my friends who could get pregnant were not going through the same red tape as us in order to have a child. I understand why they need to be thorough and yet....why so invasive. Anyway, I think any loving person or couple regardless of sex should be able to adopt if they are capable of paying for a child's long term care and loving that child. Argh.

Terri said...

So their first choice is children being raised by loving, married families...ok.

If there are no married couples available, the next best option for a child whose family can't raise them is INSTITUTIONALIZATION? Really??