It was a beautiful site last weekend to see a large group of healthy, active children of all ages playing together and enjoying a spectacular afternoon in the park. The second annual FamilyPalooza, sponsored by Affirmations and the Coalition for Adoption Rights, attracted moms, dads, kids and extended family and friends to enjoy the fun and sun.
LGBT families with children are becoming more common in everyday life. While adopted children in LGBT homes were scarce a couple of decades ago, they now number over 65,000, or more than 4 percent of adopted children in the U.S., according to a new study by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Washington’s Urban Institute. Almost 2 percent of the nation’s 3 million same-sex households include adopted children.
As more gay and lesbian families with children emerge, the political debate is changing about whether same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children and about marriage rights in the United States.
After winning constitutional amendments in 11 states to ban same-sex marriage in 2004, right-wing activists put same-sex couples adoption rights in their crosshairs last year – and failed in every state they targeted. For example, earlier this year in Arkansas, which banned same-sex marriage in 2004, a bill to prohibit gay adoption died in committee. Only Florida denies gays and lesbians the right to adopt under any circumstances.
Michigan’s legislature is set to take up the debate this fall, and most pundits think that a bill that would allow second parent adoption has a good chance of passing through Michigan’s House and Senate, and Gov. Granholm has already said she will sign the bill if it makes it to her desk.
To skittish politicians, the debate over second parent adoption is more palatable than the one over same-sex marriage, because it really is about benefiting the lives of children.
There are as many as 120,000 children in the U.S. waiting to be adopted, and since 1997 when Congress ordered states to move faster to find more families willing to take in kids, “child-welfare organizations banded together to get legislatures to allow any qualified parent to adopt, irrespective of sexual orientation,” Rob Woronoff, gay and lesbian program director at the Child Welfare League of America in Washington, told Time Magazine.
Then in 2002 the American Academy of Pediatrics said the “health, adjustment and development” of kids adopted by same-sex parents were no worse than those of kids placed with heterosexuals, bursting another myth about same-sex couples and their families. By 2006, a Pew Center poll found, support of same-sex couples adopting had risen from 38 percent in 1999 to 46 percent, and opposition had fallen from 57 percent to 48 percent.
If nervous politicians are good at one thing, it is reading opinion polls. And the trend is decidedly in favor of second parent adoption rights.
The Michigan legislature will do a great service for the children of Michigan’s when they pass the legislation allowing second parent adoption. The bill is good for the kids involved today, and it will be good for future children who find themselves needing a good, loving home. We hope to see even more kids and their loving parents at the 2008 FamilyPalooza.