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All In The Family

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Imagine being 10 years old and being taken away from your family, including your parents and siblings, the only people you've ever lived with during your entire young life. Your parents are not abusive or neglectful; you're aware that the people who raised you aren't your biological parents, but you know that you are both wanted and loved. Could you understand why being removed from your home is in "your best interest"?

This exact scenario is playing out in Florida, now officially known as the most idiotic state in the country. The child in question was a boy born carrying the HIV virus and, as such, was basically an unwanted child. A couple in Florida, however, was willing to take in this child and care for him, along with other HIV positive children. In order to provide proper care for these very needy children, one of the foster parents actually quit his nursing job to stay home with the children.

Apparently it's a rare occurrence, but occasionally a child born carrying the HIV virus will actually become free of the virus, generally as a result of intensive medical care and treatment, which in this case was provided for the child by his stay-at-home father. And indeed, this boy eventually became HIV negative. As a baby, no one else wanted him because he was HIV positive. As a healthy 10-year-old, however, he suddenly became a much more desirable adoptee. Because his parents are foster parents and not adopted parents, the state of Florida wants to remove him from his home and his family and place him with adoptive parents.

If this were the whole story, it might enrage you enough. But now the story becomes truly ludicrous. Naturally, the parents want to keep their child, and they have tried to formally adopt him. They're unable to do so because gay couples aren't allowed to adopt children in the state of Florida due to a 1977 state law which refuses gay and lesbian couples this opportunity.

So let's review the story. These two people are so selfless that they're willing to give up a large portion of their lives caring for children with a limited chance of survival and with tremendous need for medical attention. Now, you should know that they were gay from the time they took these children into foster care. This is not a new development. But as long as they were caring for children nobody else wanted, it was OK with Florida for them to be foster parents. Now that this child has a chance at life, the state of Florida, in its infinite wisdom, thinks the boy should be removed from a family who loved him and wanted him unconditionally. Why? So they can find "suitable" parents for the kid.

There are so many things wrong with the state of Florida in this situation that I can barely begin to describe them. First of all, the idea that gays and lesbians can adequately care for children with immense emotional and physical needs, such as those who are HIV positive, but that they're incapable of caring for "normal" children is, of course, ridiculous. But even disregarding the hypocritical nature of the foster parenting situation, what makes people in Florida think that gay people can't be as good at parenting as straight people?

Let's be honest: it's not like hetero parents have set the bar on parenting impossibly high. In fact, I'd argue that the current parenting bar in this country is too low to limbo under. I know plenty of heterosexual couples who are terrible parents, and I strongly suspect that the vast majority of homosexual couples who desire parenthood would make much better parents than the majority of heterosexuals who are parents. The reason for this is obvious. Heterosexual couples just end up having children all over the place, whether they're prepared to take care of them or not. It's due to stupid straight men and women that these children wound up HIV positive and in need of foster care in the first place. You can argue the morality of homosexuality until you're blue in the face, but you cannot deny the fact that sex between same-gender couples never results in unwanted children.

Not that adoptive parents are always perfect, but one thing about couples who adopt children is that they usually want them. Nobody ever comes home to his or her spouse and says, "Oops, dear, I adopted a child." There are many children who need homes and families. If there are people who want to provide homes for these children, I really don't understand why the state of Florida wants to stop them.

One of the primary arguments against gay adoption espoused by the ignorant is that gay couples are more likely to raise gay children than straight parents. First of all, this is illogical considering the fact that there are already many gay people living in the world, and they certainly weren't all adopted by gay parents. It's also an irrelevant point, though, since it relies on the thinking that homosexuality is inherently wrong and therefore an undesirable trait in a child. Maybe any child would benefit from the open-mindedness of gay parents, whether the child herself is straight or gay.

Unfortunately, Florida isn't alone in its idiocy. Other states have actively considered passing similar laws, although New Hampshire, another state that had enacted such a law, recently repealed it.

My being irate about this situation doesn't do much good for the gay couples in Florida who desperately want to adopt children they have fostered. But people around here need to think about these issues, too. Living in the Bible Belt as we do, there are many people who actually believe homosexuality to be a sin. The story of this little family being pitted against the powers that be in Florida sets up a more honest delineation of sin and virtue, however. A couple willing to take in unwanted children and care for them in spite of almost hopeless medical conditions surely exemplifies virtue and everything that is good about humanity. People willing to take a child away from the only family he has ever known only because his parents are gay -- that isn't just a sin, it should be a crime. *

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