Same-Sex Adoption vs. The State

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This was my second paper for my US Government class. I got an A.

Adoptions by Gay Couples Rise, Despite Barriers

Author: Kara M. Adamo.

In an effort to dissuade the United States from slipping into a totalitarian, fully-federal rule that might undermine the confederates of the time, specific duties and jurisdictions were given to the state and federal governments. The concept worked, for the most part, and up until the 1930s, our government maintained a mainly state-run system. The federal government stepped in during moments of crisis and when it came to general order. There was an infrastructure…a framework within which each state would work and create its own policies. It was a union of states…and given the smaller population of that union and isolated nature of the country at the time, the model worked.

So then you can fast-track into the fall of the economy in the 30s and the subsequent war that followed. It was than that unions developed, well, within the union. The framework tightened and companies that took advantage of so many people in the form of basic sweat shops were held accountable.

Women began working and learning trades in the absence of men who were fighting overseas. So, as a result, when the men returned to a world only resembling the one they remembered, the influx of conflicting states of mind rocked the original foundations from which our country based its society.

Since then, there have been social changes that rock the doctrines many older generations appreciated. We have the civil rights movement, epidemics, numerous wars in which we either won or backed out of, and a number of international policies and relations that have switched, shifted and threatened our nation as a whole. And we have done the same.

In the last twenty years, one of the many things that have managed to rock the boat is the question over gay rights. You have religious people morally conflicted over other people merely wishing to exercise basic human rights, and at the state level, different social groups maintain control over the government.

But when it comes to this particular issue, when you are dealing with not only the legitimacy over a marriage, but the adoption of a child, things get a little messy. It is not just about state acknowledgement and being able to work anywhere you want—it is about whether, across state lines, you are still a family.

The question, then, becomes whether or not the state vs. federal module is still a pragmatic one.

The article retrieved for this paper came from The New York Times. It was published on June 13th, 2011 and was written by Sabrina Tavernise. I chose a previous article for a number of reasons. Namely, and admittedly, it is because the title caught my eye faster than any of the other articles I reviewed from across the nation, including The Washington Post, The Orlando Sentinel, and more recent articles in The Times itself.

The second reason, the one that honestly sold me on it, was that it was published in the past, although the issue itself is still a current one. This was post-proposition 8, and yet I can analyze it with a 2013 point of view…when some policies have changed a bit and at a time when states are exercising the very rights addressed previously. Slowly, gay marriage is becoming a very real, widely acknowledged thing and yet the adoptions addressed in this article are still questioned…still used as arguments against an inevitable change that grants people basic rights.

I found it intriguing, and so I proceeded.

The main conflict between the federal and state levels is addressed in the very first paragraph. The author notes that there is an “uneven legal landscape that can leave their children without the rights and protections extended to children of heterosexual parents.”

There are still two states in which same-sex couples cannot adopt…Utah and Mississippi. In nearly half of the remaining 48, they still face difficulties. This is particularly difficult because same-sex marriage is not legal in those states.

And yet, throughout those remaining 48 states, adoption rates by same-sex couples is skyrocketing.  “The trend line is absolutely straight up,” said Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a nonprofit organization working to change adoption policy and practice. “It’s now a reality on the ground.”

The fact is, while gay singles are permitted to adopt children, many couples are denied those children in favor of heterosexual couples. This is sometimes even in writing, as in the case of Arizona.

Heads of adoption agencies do, however, see a very real need in front of them. “The reality is we really need foster and adoptive parents, and it doesn’t matter what the relationship is,” said Moira Weir, director of the job and family services department in Hamilton County, Ohio. “If they can provide a safe and loving home for a child, isn’t that what we want?”

The argument, of course, is that heterosexual couples provide just as much of a risk or benefit as gay or lesbian couples. And in liberal, typically blue states, that argument is seen as a valid one.  According to the article, “discrimination still remains and that in some conservative states, adoption agencies that serve gay families function like an “underground railroad.” ”

And, despite the fact that they are not protected at the federal level quite yet, “adoptions are happening anyway, even in places where the law does not give both parents full rights. Matt and Ray Lees, a couple in Worthington, Ohio, said they were selected as parents for a 7-month-old, ahead of several heterosexual couples, in part because they had successfully adopted two older children. ”

And yet, in Ohio, homosexual adoption is illegal. This is because, under Ohio law, you have to be married in order to adopt. Matt and Ray Lees found a loop-hole. “They bind their two legally distinct families together with custody agreements. They do not provide full parental rights, however, because like many states, Ohio does not allow second-parent adoptions by unmarried couples unless the first parent renounces his or her right to the child. They have to maintain two family health insurance policies. ”

And this is where it gets structurally and organizationally sticky. If a family is cohesive on one block, a mile away from a state line, and they take a jog, are they no longer a family if they step over the state line? Are the parents no longer parents—and are the children no longer adopted?

This issue becomes an issue, less of legality, and more of family. And that is why it is important—so intrinsically important—that we find some sort of frame work at the federal level.

The original link to the article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/14/us/14adoption.html

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