Brian Edwards Media

Why I Am Opposed To Gay Adoptions

ba_marriage124jrs1I am opposed to any change in the law which would allow gay couples to adopt children. My opposition is not rooted in homophobia. I was an early and vocal supporter of homosexual law reform in New Zealand; I approve of civil unions; I can see no good reason why gays should not be able to marry; I don’t doubt that a gay couple can be loving and responsible parents; I regard the argument that children raised by gay parents will turn out to be gay themselves as nonsense. Sexual orientation is genetically determined.

My opposition to allowing gay couples to adopt is rooted in my own early experience as the only child of a solo parent, my mother. I never knew my father.  I described the  lifelong effect of that situation in my memoir Daddy was a German Spy:

Having lived for 70 years, I still have no idea what it means to be a man, what you’re supposed to feel, how you’re supposed to behave, what you’re supposed to do. I’m going to get into trouble for staring at men in buses. My defence will be that I was wondering whether the person opposite me met the criteria of ‘manness’. According to my wife, the ones I think might meet the criteria are ‘knitting pattern models’ – good-looking guys with lantern jaws, strong arms and Aran sweaters. I don’t know. It’s the not-knowing that’s the problem, because it robs you of confidence. I don’t particularly want to know how to be a good man, but how to be any sort of man, how to be comfortable in my man’s skin…. I’ve come to the conclusion that, with the exception of violence or abuse, a poor model would have been preferable to no model at all.

Of course lots of boys end up with one parent these days, most often their mother. It’s commonplace. It wasn’t commonplace when I was kid. I didn’t know anyone, either at school or in the town where we lived,  who didn’t have two parents – one of either sex.  I was unusual, different. I didn’t want to be unusual or different. Most kids don’t. I wanted to be ‘normal’.

There will always be kids without gender models – boys without fathers and (fewer) girls without mothers.  Those, if you like, are the breaks. But that is very different from setting out,  planning to deny a child the experience of having both a father and a mother.

It already happens of course. A  woman in a relationship with another woman, wanting children, impregnates herself  with the sperm of a male friend. The child is born into what may well be a loving home, but without a present father. If the child is a boy, I believe he will experience not only the social difference of being a kid with two mothers, but in all probability the confusion and lack of confidence I describe in my book. I would prefer to avoid being judgmental, but I cannot see this sort of arrangement as anything other than self-interested and selfish.  Boys need fathers; girls need mothers; kids need both.

It’s the premeditated nature of the arrangement,  in which the child has of course no say,  that offends me.  It’s entirely different from the increasingly common situation where one partner in a marriage comes out, his/her lover moves in and the kid ends up living with two mums or two dads. If everyone’s agreeable, I don’t object at all to the new partner adopting the child. That, after all,  is merely a recognition of a de facto situation. And the biological mum or dad will probably still be around and accessible to the child.

But that, it seems to me, is very different from sanctioning an arrangement where neither partner is the biological parent of the child, and which condemns the child in advance to be raised without a father or, less frequently, a mother. 

This is what Paul von Dadelszen, the acting head judge of the Family Court has called for. His argument seems to have two prongs – that gay adoptions are legal in several other countries and that the present Adoption Act is  unjustly discriminatory and breaches the Bill of Rights Act, the Human Rights Act and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

I find neither argument persuasive. Central to any child’s rights, it seems to me, is the right to have a mother and father.  And that right must take precedence over the right, if indeed there is such a right, of gay couples to adopt.

Finally, if no suitable heterosexual couples were available to adopt children, would allowing suitable gay couples to adopt be preferable to having no adoptions at all? Of course. But that is not the situation in New Zealand.

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83 Comments:

  1. You can count the number of adoptions in a year on two hands as it is and these kiddies go to couples who have run out of options. My brother and my sister, seperately, both went through hugely expensive IVFs amongst other things with their other halfs. Not sure why they should rank behind someone making a lifestyle (in terms of adopting) choice who have other options they can explore.
    As an adopted child I am incredibly happy there was a good vetting process and I had a traditional upbringing, hard enough being adopted anyway. Read “Primal Wound”.

  2. I disagree. A child being adopted needs a family. It doesn’t matter wether one person has a penis and one person has a vagina. It seems to be you are basing your opinion on some arbitrary notion of what it feel like to be a ”man”? You don’t think a gay couple could raise a child to be secure and loved? You don’t think a lesbian couple can? You don’t think a solo mum or dad could? Sure I have read lonigtudinal studies showing better outcomes for children raised by a mother and a father. But gay people haven’t been allowed to have children long enough to do studies that as longterm. The studies I HAVE read regarding children raised by same sex parents shows very little different between their hetero cohorts and even SHOCK HORROR some better outcomes in some areas. Children need parents. Being a heterosexual doesn’t automatically make you think wonderful person that is going to do everything perfectly so their kids have the most amazing life ever. When a heterosexual couple adopt there is no guarantee that they are not going to break up or be absent or not be loving enough or to be the proper definition of what a “”man”” and a “”woman”” should be like.
    I am having a really hard time wrapping my head around this thinking.
    There are so many gay people out there aching for children to take care, children they will love and accept and feed and cloth and they are being denied this chance, WHY? Because some people with the privilege of never knowing any better think that they can’t possible do it as well as they can, because THEY have opposite sets of genitalia. Sorry BE, I strongly disagree.

    • I disagree. A child being adopted needs a family. It doesn’t matter wether one person has a penis and one person has a vagina.

      I had intended not to reply to comments on this topic, since what I was expressing was a position based on my personal experience of not having a father. You entirely missed that point, preferring instead to indulge in hackneyed gender politics. I said almost none of the things in the piece that you attribute to me. I did not say that a gay couple could not raise a child to be secure and loved. Nor did I say that about solo parents. I was the child of a solo parent who loved me very much, but I was deeply affected by not having a father. Bugger your longitudinal studies. I’m talking about my experience. I didn’t say that being a heterosexual “automatically makes you think wonderful person that is going to do everything perfectly so their kids have the most amazing life ever”. If you’re going to comment on something, for god’s sake don’t invent what they said. I said that boys and girls need role models of their own gender. I said that if those role models are absent, young people may struggle with their identity and place in the world as men or women. I said so in a quiet and reasoned way. Your comment might have had some value, if you had done the same.

  3. In other words, its the content of you character, not the content of your pants that make you a good parent.

    • In other words, its the content of you character, not the content of your pants that make you a good parent.

      Grow up, Charlotte. Stop talking in slogans.

  4. Yeah well, I don’t believe in gender essentialism, so perhaps that it where our opinions won’t align. You can call that hackneyed all you like.
    I also don’t believe that the traditional nuclear family unit is the only place where children can be exposed to positive role models of both (all) genders.
    As for my “slogan”, that one is based on something Martin Luther King Jnr said. Speaking about rights and all.

    • Yeah well, I don’t believe in gender essentialism, so perhaps that it where our opinions won’t align. You can call that hackneyed all you like.

      You have the advantage of me, Charlotte, since I have no idea what “gender essentialism” is, but, at a guess, I very much doubt that I’d believe in it either. As to the “traditional nuclear family being the only place where children can be exposed to positive role models of both (all) genders”, I don’t think I said that either. Did you miss the sentence in my blog that said, “I don’t doubt that a gay couple can be loving and responsible parents”?

      My argument with you is not that you hold views quite different to mine, but that you persist in misrepresenting what I said. You’ll see that someone else has accused me of being petulant and unkind in my response to your original comment. If that was indeed the case, I apologise.

  5. I bristled when I first saw your headline. I consider myself to be very liberal on most things and especially on the matter of gay relationships, I have never had a problem with the premise of gay couples adopting. Having read your post, and thought about it some more, I am now changing my mind on the latter. Thank you for sharing your thoughts around this issue.

  6. Jeez MR E, Mr Mallard set a trend here? Expect some traffic on this post of yours.
    In my experience, having had a childhood where I didn’t get to see the earlier part of their relationship, the horror of my parents being at war was enough to convince me that any loving parenting is preferable. Any.
    I understand why you’ll not come back on this.

    • Jeez MR E, Mr Mallard set a trend here? Expect some traffic on this post of yours.

      If you can find anywhere in my post the suggestion that having heterosexual “parents at war” would be preferable to having loving gay parents, I’ll willingly withdraw.

  7. I think, that any blog — or forum — should be a “safe” place for a free flow exchange of ideas and opinions. I don’t think, that someone (as with Charlotte), who presents a disparate point of view, should be subjected to off-handed, unkind remarks and petulance — especially coming from the topic’s author. Unless, of course, the author prefaces the topic, in question, with the caution: This blog is strictly the preserve for people who share like-minded views; detractors not welcomed”.

    Some tolerance, please.

    • I think, that any blog — or forum — should be a “safe” place for a free flow exchange of ideas and opinions.

      Well, in general I’d agree with you, Catalina Y. But if a commentator completely misrepresents and distorts what the author said, in order to attack it, then it really is an invitation to what you call “a petulant reply”.

  8. BE, I’m surprised at your position on this issue. To oppose a law change because of your own limited individual experiences is dodgy to say the least. And as for ‘roll models being absent,’ I’d suggest that there are many, many families, that have both mum and dad at home, where one or either of the so-called roll-models are drunk, kid-killing monsters. Based on that should the law be changed on heterosexuals because this *might* occur? Of course not. Change the law I say, let good people adopt children regardless of their between the sheets proclivity.

    • BE, I’m surprised at your position on this issue.

      Russell, I write very carefully, in part to avoid being misunderstood or misrepresented. So I suggest that there are many, many families, that have both mum and dad at home, where one or other of the so-called role-models are drunk, kid-killing monsters. I’d have thought you’d have been “surprised” if I’d been advocating that, while railing against the pro-smackers. Or you might have noticed that I wrote in the post: “I’ve come to the conclusion that, with the exception of violence or abuse, a poor model would have been preferable to no model at all.”

      Yes, I’m generalising partly from my own experience, but also from conversations with many other fatherless boys and men. With the obvious exceptions noted above, I have absolutely no doubt that it’s better for a boy to have a father, than not to have a father.

  9. “I have absolutely no doubt that it’s better for a boy to have a father, than not to have a father”

    Agreed Brian, but is that enough to oppose the law change?

    • Agreed Brian, but is that enough to oppose the law change?

      While there are suitable mixed gender couples available to adopt, I believe that it is.

  10. BE, what I mean by my nuclear unit comment was that many people operate family units that differ fhe traditional nuclear unit. Its called Whanau in this country, or extended family, or “it takes a village”. In those situations it is really easy for child to have positive role models of either (all) gender(s) that are just as marvelous as having a male parent and a female parent.

    • BE, what I mean by my nuclear unit comment was that many people operate family units that differ fhe traditional nuclear unit.

      I understand. And I think that must be wonderful.

  11. Seems to me fatherless children are more likely to come from heterosexual relationships than homosexual adoptions…a sledgehammer cracking a peanut.

    ‘Central to any child’s rights, it seems to me, is the right to have a mother and father. And that right must take precedence over the right, if indeed there is such a right, of gay couples to adopt.’

    So why select just one possible scenario of one type of family unit? Presumably you are implying that single,unattached women who set out to have a child similarly ought not be permitted to have one.Or that folk such as yourself of our current Prime Minister ought to be reassigned to a family that has a father in situ, should something happen to the actual father…lest they end up confused and lacking in confidence as both you and Key appear to have.

    • Seems to me fatherless children are more likely to come from heterosexual relationships than homosexual adoptions…a sledgehammer cracking a peanut.

      Sorry, Peter. This is just nonsense.

  12. I knew of a great family where there was a Mum and her husband was openly and happily gay. When I knew their son he was 10 and he had a wicked sense of humour and would bait adults with a great “stereotypical” gay performance. The adults would frown and mutter. A bit off the topic but there you are. He was a happily well adjusted kid.

    • I knew of a great family where there was a Mum and her husband was openly and happily gay.

      I wouldn’t have objected to having a gay dad. I’ve been reluctant to say this, but some of the best fun I’ve had was with gay friends.

  13. Thank you for an excellent and rational presentation of your views. I can also see another practical objection. Kids, especially adolescents, are monsters and I can envisage the torment heaped on kids who happen to have same sex parents. It is not right, but it is the way of the world. In esssence though I agree that whilst it has become unfashionable children need both a loving mother and loving father. Like you I was brought up by a single parent. It is only now that I look back and realise how it affected me; my constant search for a father substitue as a child.

    Finally I have no objection to those who disagree with Brian, but please do not come here and spout your mindless claptrap, “gender essentialism”.

    It also may have escaped Charlotte’s notice that whilst the concept of ‘extended family’ may be wonderful thing (although I am not convinced), many do not have that luxury and the child is reliant upon the ‘role models’ of its biological mother and father. Tell us Charlotte do you speak from experience; have you raised children, or like so many who speak in slogans do you theorise?

  14. I’d suggest you talk to your multitude of gay and lesbian friends, who you claim to respect, and get a reality check on the idea that a child raised by gay or lesbian parents is somehow going to end up all ‘feminized’ by being around the queens or the hirsute man-haters 24/7.

    • I’d suggest you talk to your multitude of gay and lesbian friends,

      I suggest you re-read what I wrote. Nowhere in that post will you find a single thing that you accuse me of having written. Quite the opposite. Far from suggesting that a child raised by gay or lesbian parents was going to be “feminised” by being “around the queens or the hirsute man haters”, I wrote: “I regard the argument that children raised by gay parents will turn out to be gay themselves as nonsense. Sexual orientation is genetically determined.” Are you an idiot or just plain dishonest?

  15. Thank you for writing this piece. I too was brought up by a solo parent, my mother. I completely identify with the lack of a male role model, although mine is from the persepective of a daughter. I became sexually active at 14 partly because I wanted an older male’s love and attention. Even as a grown woman I would still love a dad.

    I watch my own sons grow and I can see how they relate differently to their father, I’m the cuddle giver who gives kisses and snuggles. My husband hugs and kisses, but far less and he will play fight and wrestle with the boys which I totally fail to understand. The boys adore this, and I include my husband as a boy in this respect.

    My boys need me, the mum, but they also need their dad. He relates to them in ways I just can’t. Boys and girls need mums and dads.

    • Thank you for writing this piece. I too was brought up by a solo parent, my mother. I completely identify with the lack of a male role model, although mine is from the persepective of a daughter.

      Thanks for that, Tess.

  16. “Boys need fathers; girls need mothers; kids need both.”

    I really don’t get this, it seems utter nonsense to me. Kids need people around them who are loving and nurturing. They need extended families and grandparents and male and female, gay and straight role models of as many hues as possible. To say that two mums or two dads will somehow limit access to this is questionable at best, as is the idea that you need to have had a dad to know what it means to be a man. I am lucky enough to have had one, and I loved him very dearly, but I don’t think he somehow passed the sense and meaning manhood on to me – gender like most things is something we grow to understand from a number of different sources and in a variety of different ways.

    At an even more basic level: kids who grow up with two dads won’t know what it’s like to have a mum, but will know what it’s like to have two dads. This difference is a good not only for society, but for the individual as well – the child of such an arrangement won’t be deprived.

    • I really don’t get this, it seems utter nonsense to me

      Rather a lot of thought and personal experience went into what you arrogantly dismiss as “nonsense”, Giovanna, especially from someone who had a father but wants to lecture people who didn’t. And yes, if you have extended families and grandparents and male and female and gay and straight role models, you may be less in need of a dad to know what it means to be a man. Most fatherless boys don’t have all those advantages. Perhaps you could develop some empathy for other people before spouting off like this.

  17. Ben, children whos parents are poor may be teased at school, children whos parents are immigrants, children whos parent are DD… Do you see what I am saying? It is a ridiculous argument to say that gay people shouldn’t adopt because the kids at school might tease them. Maybe you haven’t noticed but the kids these days are pretty onto it. THEY know about things like gender essentialism, which you so ignorantly describe as mindless claptrap. Its also pretty cool to be gay these days. People are more accepting and therefore there are more gay folk about. Teasing someone for being gay or having gay parents is something an idiot does and don’t we all teach our kids to ignore those people.

    And yes, since you’ve asked for my qualifications to post on this issue, I am a mother. I am also a gay woman. I am currently partnered with a man and I really think its ridiculous that I was partnered with a female I would be doing my child some kind of disservice. Not all people fit into the neat little boxes society labels “man” and “woman”.

  18. This is all conjecture and personal opinion anyway. I will repeat, the studies OVERWHELMINGLY show children raised by gay or lesbian couples are no worse and in some instances even better off than kids raised by hetero parents. All this comes down to is gay people, once more, having to prove ourselves to all you privileged folk. Its sad and it hurts.
    Do any of you even know any gay parents?

  19. Hi Brian,

    I think it is possible to agree with the core sentiment of your article, that it’s undoubtedly best for kids to have both a male and a female role model in their lives, but still find it unsettling that, by law, gay couples cannot adopt – it seems that gay couples wanting to adopt are prima facie being discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation.

    In not allowing gay couples to adopt the law is making a value judgment about gay peoples’ ability to legally fulfill the obligations of being parents (the legal requirements we would imagine are somewhat lower than the ideal moral standards we all make about “what might be best”).

    Surely there ways to reconcile these two views (that gay couples should not be legally stopped from adopting, but that having both a male and a female role model is best)?

    Just one option for the sake of debate would be legislating a set of criteria which potential adoptees have to measure up against in order to be eligible to adopt, such as clean criminal record, evidence of a stable loving relationship, the presence of ongoing male and female role models. Therefore the ball would be in the court of all couples to show they could provide these things regardless of their sexual orientation.

    I imagine (having no experience – at all – of my own) that there are non-conventional ways to raise kids, not all of which involve one man and one woman. I imagine there are people out there happily raised by their mother and their grandfather. Who’s to say mum, her girlfriend and grand pappy can’t make the perfect team?

    I’ll finish with this gem from a friend’s facebook comments thread:

    “I think that, on average, a stable gay couple would make better parents than a welfare mum with three or four children from different fathers. The kids would dress better for a start.”

    Good on you for writing this post and responding to the inevitably fallout.

    Jake

  20. Sadly, over on Public Address a baying mob of tolerant, liberal and open minded people demand you THINK THEY DO!

  21. “… please do not come here and spout your mindless claptrap, “gender essentialism”.”

    I’d also like it if people generally didn’t come here and spout trite cliches such as “it is the way of the world”, but there you go.

    If some people don’t know what ‘gender essentialism’ is, here’s a suggestion: try looking it up. You may even find the internet can be helpful in that regard. It’s pretty much just the general notion of essentialism, as applied to gender.

    http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1296094/essentialism

    I guess where Brian’s stance may look essentialist is in his emphasis on a boy needing a father figure in particular, and conversely a girl especially needing a mother role model – as if there are essential things about being a ‘man’ that only a male can pass on to a son.

    Anyway, putting that aside, more importantly, here’s some research from the APA on this issue:

    http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/policy/parents.html

    They conclude: “The picture that emerges from research is one of general engagement in social life with peers, parents, family members, and friends. Fears about children of lesbian or gay parents being sexually abused by adults, ostracized by peers, or isolated in single-sex lesbian or gay communities have received no scientific support. Overall, results of research suggest that the development, adjustment, and well-being of children with lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents”

    • “… please do not come here and spout your mindless claptrap, “gender essentialism”.” I’d also like it if people generally didn’t come here and spout trite cliches such as “it is the way of the world”, but there you go.

      All fine, but I suggest you check my reply to Craig Ranapia.

  22. Jake, I am pretty sure most of those criteria are already in place for people wanting to adopt in New Zealand.

  23. “And yes, if you have extended families and grandparents and male and female and gay and straight role models, you may be less in need of a dad to know what it means to be a man. Most fatherless boys don’t have all those advantages. Perhaps you could develop some empathy for other people before spouting off like this.”

    Just so I get this straight, as it were, you’re the one who’s elevating his life story as justification for barring gay couples from adopting, and orphaned children from being brought up by gay parents, right? And I’m the one who lacks empathy.

    Somebody who ends up being brought up by two mums may not know what it’s like to have a dad, but then s/he’s going to know what it’s like to be brought up by two mums. To think that it’s a lesser experience because of the arithmetic of the genitalia really is not consistent with what we know about gay couples and parenting.

    • Just so I get this straight, as it were, you’re the one who’s elevating his life story as justification for barring gay couples from adopting, and orphaned children from being brought up by gay parents, right? And I’m the one who lacks empathy.

      OK. Here’s a simple question. In a situation where there is no shortage of good people wanting to adopt, including both gay and straight people, what would the rationale be, in terms of the welfare, happiness and social integration of the child, for preferring to adopt to a gay couple?

  24. Brian:

    I’m neither an idiot nor dishonest, but I’d certainly like to ask you the same question. Your entire rationale reeks of the thorougly discredited idea that those not raised in a one man, one woman household are somehow “damaged”. Would you care to come up with any evidence for that, as opposed to dipping into your dubiously relevant childhood and vague anecdotes?

    Sadly, over on Public Address a baying mob of tolerant, liberal and open minded people demand you THINK THEY DO!

    Rubbish, Tom. I don’t really care if Brian doesn’t think as I do on all manner of topics — as Noam Chomsky once said, if you don’t support freedom of speech for people whose views you despise, you don’t believe in freedom of speech at all. But how about respecting the freedom of others to say those views are arrant nonsense?

  25. I find this debate very interesting. I was also raised without the presence of my father and would have to say that it definitely affected the way in which I viewed the world for a long time.
    On the one hand I strongly believe the gay couples should have the right to adopt children. On the other hand I can completely see where you’re coming from in regards to not having a father figure. On the other hand (that’s right, I now have three hands and may grow one more) the assumption here seems to be that children who are raised my gay couples will perhaps lack in their ability to discern what it means to be a “man” or a “woman” . I’m not sure that this can be considered an ultimate truth. Our notions of what it means to be male, female, transgender, māori, pakeha and all manner of things that come to shape our identity, come from many different sources and also differ greatly from person to person.
    In a nutshell, I agree that it is not ideal to grow up without a father figure. However, there are a lot of things in this world that aren’t ideal, I’m not sure that that is reason enough to deny people rights.
    My fourth hand would like to say thank you for sharing an opinion born of personal experience. I think it is a very brave thing to do.

  26. All fine, but I suggest you check my reply to Craig Ranapia.

    Why? Are you suggesting that applies to what I wrote?

    I can’t control what Craig posts. I was just pointing out Ben’s hypocritical attitude.

    I understand some comments here have misrepresented your views. The main point is that you seem to base this on a personal experience. I think you’ve done that genuinely and I wouldn’t go as far as some and say you are being homophobic. However, surely you agree that policy and the law should not based on anecdotal experience, even your own?

    • Why? Are you suggesting that applies to what I wrote? I can’t control what Craig posts. I was just pointing out Ben’s hypocritical attitude.

      Before changing the law (in this case a law which affects the welfare and happiness of parentlless children) , the lawmakers have an obligation to canvas both lay and expert evidence on the issue. I have given my opinion and reasons based on my own expereince for not supporting such a change and I at least have the advantage of having been a fatherless son. If you read all the comments on this topic you will see that others who have shared my experience tend to agree.

  27. So what exactly are these essential qualities of ‘maleness’ or ‘femaleness’ which children of gay adoptive parents will be missing out on?

    • So what exactly are these essential qualities of ‘maleness’ or ‘femaleness’ which children of gay adoptive parents will be missing out on?

      If you re-read my piece, you’ll find that my answer was that I didn’t know. I didn’t know how to behave. Maybe it comes down to something as commonplace as being able to “ask your dad” when you really don’t want to ask your mum. I really don’t understand all the anger around this simply concept that boys need fathers.

  28. Ah, nevermind, I see I repeated the point I had already made in my first comment… I ended up discussing your piece on different forums with different people, so in the end it was all a bit of a blur. Feel free to not publish my latest, then, nor this one – it will help avoid the impression that it’s grandstanding on my part. I will however convey in private what I just wrote to a friend, since it helped me understand the problem I have with your argument:

    “It’s an awful argument to have… I think the thing that bothers me the most about it, this idea that you need a mummy and a daddy and they need to have a penis and a vagina each, is the proposition that *all things being equal* that’s the absolute ideal, and we should strive for it. But there is no such thing as everything else being equal, there are just good parents and not so good parents, a spectrum of functional and not so functional families. So not only it’s a
    discriminatory ideal, it’s an untestable discriminatory ideal, not grounded in reality.”

    That’s really all I have to say, and it wasn’t meant to denigrate your experience of growing up without a father, just questioning its universal applicability in the very narrow terms you defined. Steve hit the nail on the head anyhow, so no need to weigh down the thread with these further contributions of mine.

    Regards

    Giovanni

  29. I’m not agree with you at all. My son is gay and with his partner they going to adopt. we are so happy for the children and the whole family. We have an entire loving family for them
    My first hand experience allows me to assure that there are other important elements adopting children than gender.

  30. Charlotte your postings will have changed many minds, I would guess most now agree with BE.

  31. While I do belive that you cannot shoehorn people into some PC (and lets face it, that is what it is) family arrangement of mum, dad and 2.4 kids, with the labrador and station wagon, and I do belive that the gender of the person you marry, sleep with or partner up with is nobody’s business but your own and no business of the state, and that criminialising someone because of their sexual preference is wrong, your post, Brian, underlines why that I am reluctant to die in the ditch for the ‘right’ of gay couples to adopt.

  32. I think the furore is based on the idea that men and women are different and complementary when it comes to raising a child. This goes against current academic fashion about gender.

    But as a woman, raised by a woman, who now lives in a majority male household (hubby and 4 sons) I can honestly tell you that my experience is that men and women are different.

    I’ve been very careful not to sterotype our boys into male roles. My seven year old wanted a pink Barbie horse and we got it for him for Christmas, we have lots of soft toys, the boys have Littlest Pet Shop toys which are marketed to girls. We have baby dolls with baths and bottles. My husband does a huge amount of housework and cooking and various domestic chores. He is a completely hand’s on dad, nappies, baths, stories, pegging out washing, the whole fandango.

    But I can see my boys react differently with their dad. They test themselves against him, in physical ways, ie. wrestling and in mental ways, ie. what can they get away with. They have burping competitions, which I think is just gross but apparently it’s the funniest thing on the planet. They mimic him in male ways, learning to stand and pee into the toilet for example and they look at his naked body and discuss whether they will shave their beard or how hairy and muscled they will become.

    But then they also have a special and different relationship with me. They will chat endlessly about being a tiny baby inside me and about what it’s like to feed a baby my milk. They get quite irate if I get tough with them because I’m “mummy and mummies are the snuggly softy ones.” And they are always asking me for more brothers and “are you pregnant yet mummy?”

    Why is it so terrible to acknowledge these experiences and extrapolate that the ideal for kids is both a loving mum and dad? It’s only modelling biology. We all have a biological mother and father – and I think there is an essential metaphysical truth about our nature expressed in that. It’s just terribly unpopular to say so.

    • I think the furore is based on the idea that men and women are different and complementary when it comes to raising a child. This goes against current academic fashion about gender.

      Thanks, Tess.

  33. OK. Here’s a simple question. In a situation where there is no shortage of good people wanting to adopt, including both gay and straight people, what would the rationale be, in terms of the welfare, happiness and social integration of the child, for preferring to adopt to a gay couple?

    In short BE, there shouldn’t be a distinction. Its not one over the other. We are the same.

    • In short BE, there shouldn’t be a distinction. Its not one over the other. We are the same.

      Sadly, we aren’t. Though both can act in loco parentis, a woman (gay or not) can’t be a father, and a man (gay or not) can’t be a mother. In the end this is not about any fault in gay men or women. It is not even about anything present. It is about something missing, a sense of loss experienced by many fatherless boys.

  34. Here’s a simple question. In a situation where there is no shortage of good people wanting to adopt, including both gay and straight people, what would the rationale be, in terms of the welfare, happiness and social integration of the child, for preferring to adopt to a gay couple?

    What would be the rationale for making (keeping) it illegal? Why shouldn’t a gay couple even be able to be considered? Did you read the link I posted before?

    http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/policy/parents.html

    I ask again: surely you agree that policy and the law should not based on anecdotal experience, even your own?

    If you read all the comments on this topic you will see that others who have shared my experience tend to agree.

    Like Anonymous?

    I was also raised without the presence of my father and would have to say that it definitely affected the way in which I viewed the world for a long time…

    In a nutshell, I agree that it is not ideal to grow up without a father figure. However, there are a lot of things in this world that aren’t ideal, I’m not sure that that is reason enough to deny people rights.

    I understand that sentiment, based on his experience. However, he’s not asking for a discriminatory law to be continued.

  35. “OK. Here’s a simple question. In a situation where there is no shortage of good people wanting to adopt, including both gay and straight people, what would the rationale be, in terms of the welfare, happiness and social integration of the child, for preferring to adopt to a gay couple?”

    What’s the reason not to? The one you’re providing is that boys need dads, and girls need mums, and I’ve argued against it. But I’m not saying that having gay parents would be preferable, just that I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be just as good in all the respects you’ve listed – including social integration (the argument somebody put forward upthread about the discrimination they’d be bound to suffer I find unacceptable – we might as well bar racial minorities from adopting in that case.)

    Beyond that, I think we’ve reached a classic impasse. I can perhaps point you to a couple of writers who have bolstered these particular beliefs of mine – Donna Haraway with her meditation on the fiction of the nuclear family in Cyborg, Simians and Women, and Emma Hart who’s surely one of the most relevant NZ writers on this spectrum of subjects. this piece is on gay marriage but it touches on parenting too.

    • I think we’ve reached a classic impasse.

      Well, if, as you say, your position is that boys don’t need fathers, then we have indeed reached a classic impasse. A worthwhile debate nonetheless.

  36. I would also posit that a lot of bad feelings that come from being ‘fatherless’ are socialised. Its put forth from every corner that having a mummy AND a daddy is the absolute ideal. Perhaps if there were more gay parents and they were more visible in day to day life, the books we read, the media we consume, that socialisation would be less profoundly directed at one set of ideals.

  37. …and Emma Hart who’s surely one of the most relevant NZ writers on this spectrum of subjects.

    I should add that it was Emma who pointed out that research that I linked to earlier.

    Why is it so terrible to acknowledge these experiences and extrapolate that the ideal for kids is both a loving mum and dad?

    It’s not “so terrible”. In fact, that’s what Anon did above: “In a nutshell, I agree that it is not ideal to grow up without a father figure. However, there are a lot of things in this world that aren’t ideal, I’m not sure that that is reason enough to deny people rights.”

  38. “Well, if, as you say, your position is that boys don’t need fathers,”

    I suppose that is what I’m saying. But wait: so you’d be in favour of boys being adopted by male gay couples, girls by female gay couples?

    • I suppose that is what I’m saying. But wait: so you’d be in favour of boys being adopted by male gay couples, girls by female gay couples?

      No, because my position has consistently been that boys and girls are best off when they have the complementary influences of a father and mother.

  39. “No, because my position has consistenly been that boys and girls are best off when they have the complementary influences of a father and mother.”

    And why? Well, because, that’s why! Amply supplied evidence to the contrary be damned.

  40. Sorry this is a tad disjointed, it’s oviously a provocative subject! I feel you’ve made some excellent points Brian, in line with a lot of current thinking about the availability of good male role models for boys (especially from single parent families) in our schools and communities. I suspect the feeling of being perplexed and dislocated from one’s own gender is more common than society cares to acknowledge.

    However, I wonder if some of our personal discomfort may be attributable to a different era. It was perhaps a time when definitions of ‘manliness’ and ‘ladylike behaviour’ were far more rigid and prescriptive, when the differences a child exhibited by being raised by a member of the opposite sex made them stand out as targets for ridicule, forever coping with the fears and confusion in their own young minds.

    I was raised by a disinterested father (who craved a son) amongst a group of men, and have always agonised about what it was to be a woman. I first ran away from home at age six, in search of people who would want me. I developed into an androgynous sort of person who still stands out among women as ‘different’ and feels more relaxed in the company of men.

    Of course there are a multitude of fathers who are encapsulated by that song ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’ (Harry Chapin, 1974) whose legacy is to be absent in all but name. Aren’t many prospective parents ‘selfish and self interested’, unthinking in their procreative urges, deluded by fantasies? I somehow feel we tend to romanticise an ideal rather than the reality for most. Unfortunately, the ideal of an ‘extended family’ is often as flawed as the model it extends from. What is the answer?

    Personally, if I’d had a choice, firstly I’d want stable carers aware of their responsibility to provide security and appropriate guidance to cope with life and navigate the world ahead. Secondly, I would rather be born now, than into the bigoted judgemental world of my 1950’s childhood (plenty of living examples of this period still lurking about). Thirdly, I would want all adult members of the community to recognise their responsibility to provide equal opportunity and encouragement in the development of children as potentially worthwhile people and to actively compensate a little in the areas where children are missing out.

    [On the other hand, there is always that persuasive argument that adversity builds extraordinary character (or alas, deviance) which asks: where would our creativity be without the pain that built it? This argument forgets to acknowledge that somewhere along the line an adult said something like: “Well done, you have a real talent for this.”]

    As an aside, I once worked for a guy called Mac who was raised by his father. He told me that every day his dad sent him to school with rough slabs of meat and cheese wedged between uneven doorsteps of bread for his lunch. His best friend Maurie was raised by his solo mum who made him school lunches of neat little sandwiches, bits of fruit, and treats all wrapped up in mysterious parcels. Every day of their school years the two boys swapped lunches.
    Kids try to compensate.

  41. “However, there are a lot of things in this world that aren’t ideal, I’m not sure that that is reason enough to deny people rights.”

    When it comes to adoption, if we can give children the ideal of a loving mum and dad, then we absolutely should. It’s not about the rights of the gay adults, it’s about the rights of the children.

    No adult has a right to bear or adopt children, children aren’t something that must be available. If one is sadly infertile, or if a couple are unable to concieve that is the terribly sad reality. But that couple or person is not owed a child as though he or she were an object or a commodity.

  42. @ 12.56
    B.E: ‘I’ve been reluctant to say this, but some of the best fun I’ve had was with gay friends’.
    fun fun gays party their kids life away or something is it?
    So many turgid stereotypes you trundle along with.
    If you’ll pardon my passion.

    • fun fun gays party their kids life away or something is it?
      So many turgid stereotypes you trundle along with.
      If you’ll pardon my passion.

      I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. I said I was “reluctant to say this” because of the discredited use of the argument “some of my best friends are…” Stop trying to find skeletons in empty closets.

  43. Hold the phone here Tess. I am buy no means arguing the a child is a commodity that is owned by parents.

    I recognise that the lack of a father figure, or “ideal” father figure impacted on MY upbringing. Just as Little Toot sees it from his/her perspective, BE sees it from his perspective and you see it from your perspective.

    As an early childhood teacher it is my job to have an understanding of what children need in terms of cognitive and emotional development and to provide this for them to the very best of my ability.

    I call tell you right now that if we applied the need to have a balance of male and female role models in our education system, as we seem so willing to do it from a parenting perspective, we’d have a major system fail on our hands.

    Perhaps I framed my perspective in a manner that emphasised rights in a manner that was a little more neo-liberal than I had intended. To clarify, I grew up without my father, it affected me greatly. Do I think it was the lack of a male role model that attributed to my feelings of loss, abandonment and worthless? Quite frankly, no. It was knowing that this person had played a part in creating me and yet seemed to so easily dismiss me from his life.The fact that he was male, for me, is beside the point.

    As an adult I feel it is now my responsibility to look at what I feel I “lacked” as a child and find a way of giving that to myself. I’m lucky to be in a position to do that. Many people aren’t.

    But many children, if we are indeed taking into account their perspective, want to be loved and cared for. In fact, I would argue that this attributes to the development of cognitive function more than any other factor, including the gender of the people who are willing to give that love and care. At the risk of sounding like a complete hippy, there is actually a lot of truth in the sentiment that all we need is love.

  44. *applause* to Anonymous.

  45. Anon: Thank you for clarifying. I still disagree that any two loving parents are ideal irrelevant of gender. But we do both agree that children aren’t commodities which people have a right to possess.

  46. “I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about…”

    I am pretty sure it is a generational thing, Mr. Edwards. You would do well just to delete the entire post, because by just by voicing your opinion in even the mildest way you have committed a major thought crime.

    A certain type of forty-something, usually urban, Liberal-left (with a capital “L” on the Liberal) have been weened on identity politics. Being gay friendly is a foundation plank of their tired identity politics and is worn like a suffragette’s medal, to be paraded at every opportunity as a public display of their open mindedness and tolerance.

    Serendipitously, Chris Trotter’s latest piece (large parts of which I disagree with, but which has a kernel of truth) alludes to this particular phenomena quite well.

  47. I was raised without a mother. And I’m female. And I don’t have issues.

    I don’t know why you assume single parents and homosexual couples don’t know any people of the opposite sex.

    My father had to deal with me going through puberty, getting periods, breasts etc. And when he wasn’t sure what to do he rang his sisters, his mother, his female friends, his female work colleagues, his female cousins and nieces and nephews.

    I had plenty of female role models. And I don’t have issues about ‘what it is to be a woman’ just because I was raised by my father.

  48. Oh and in case it matters – my father wasn’t gay. My mother left when I was an infant.

  49. Or, Tom, we could just believe, based on actual data and research, that gay adoptive parents are able to raise perfectly well-adjusted children, and that basing our opinions about adoption almost solely on our own experiences would be illogical at best and prejudiced at worst.

    But do feel free to continue with this insane snark-fest of yours, if you like.

  50. B.E, fair enough. My apologies,I’m excitable, being gay and all.

  51. Tom Semmens, you use a lot of 5 dollar words to say nothing at all and if I had thousand eyes I would roll them all.

  52. “A certain type of forty-something, usually urban, Liberal-left (with a capital “L” on the Liberal) have been weened on identity politics. Being gay friendly is a foundation plank of their tired identity politics and is worn like a suffragette’s medal, to be paraded at every opportunity as a public display of their open mindedness and tolerance.”

    Is it you, Tom? I almost didn’t recognise you on account of that giant chip.

    Perhaps I’m all the things you said. I still find it rather extraordinary that a thinking person could claim that when heterosexuals have children, they’re being altruistic, when gays aspire to, they’re being selfish, and demand that his point of view be treated with nothing but empathy and respect, on account of his painful personal experience of growing up without a father. Nobody dare suggest that by making that claim he’s inflicting pain on others, for he’s a sensitive soul, or dare mention the word homophobia, for he’s an enlightened man.

    We should be demanding more of each other, don’t you think?

    • I still find it rather extraordinary that a thinking person could claim that when heterosexuals have children, they’re being altruistic, when gays aspire to, they’re being selfish, and demand that his point of view be treated with nothing but empathy and respect,

      I’d decided to stay out of this, since my views have been fully canvassed, but what I’ve objected to most in this debate is the flagrant misrepresentation of what I said in the original piece. Nowhere did I claim that “when heterosexuals have children they’re being altruistic”. Nowhere did I say that when gays “aspire to” have children, they are being selfish. I quite understand the sometimes overpowering need that people of both sexes, whether gay or not, may have for a child. I did say that it was self-interested and selfish to plan to bring a child of either sex into a situation where it would grow up without a mum and a dad. I made no “demand” that my “point of view be treated with nothing but empathy and respect”. I was very well aware when I wrote this piece what the response would be. And it was indeed exactly what I had expected.

  53. “I did say that it was self-interested and selfish to plan to bring a child of either sex into a situation where it would grow up without a mum and a dad.”

    How does that differ from postulating that a gay couple who wants to have children is selfish, by definition? (And of course that implies that the only cases in which the arrangement can be anything other than selfish are heterosexual couples. Unless you’re saying that all adoptions are self-interested and selfish, but obviously you’re not.)

    “I made no demand that my “point of view be treated with nothing but empathy and respect.”

    Er… wasn’t that the nature of your first complaint to me? I questioned your premise and your response ended with “Perhaps you could develop some empathy for other people before spouting off like this.” Seemed a bit snippy from somebody who had just put forward, reluctantly as it may be, an argument in favour of a form of discrimination.

  54. B E. I agree with you, your experience appears (from my observation) to be broadly typical of people who have only one parent or who have had “same sex” parents. Despite what all the “studies” say I believe children will be better off with a mum & dad, unfortunately this is I think an inconvenient truth.

  55. Yeah, Dave, studies are “inconvenient” truths too, for you I guess.

    Look, I don’t expect anyone to change their mind immediately just because someone cites some research. But don’t dismiss “the studies” out of hand because they (inconveniently) do not say what you were expecting them to say. At least have the grace to admit the evidence may not support your anecdotal views.

  56. ‘A gay Christchurch woman is upset that she cannot adopt her three-year-old daughter. ‘

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/2809327/Child-in-legal-black-hole

    Probably just as well ,given that whilst the child has a loving family and all…there is no father figure and this would clearly be of a greater disadvantage than the parent wanting to have all those pesky legal rights one needs when illness and death and so on happen to get in the way.

  57. I firmly believe that gay couples should be allowed to adopt childeren. I had both a mother and father but i wished that I only had a mother or even two mother’s it would have been better to having a father. I think gay couples would be just as loving as stright couples. even a single gay person would be loving to children.