Children Will Suffer If Rick Santorum Is President

If the conservative Republican bans adoption by gay couples, tens of thousands of kids will be stuck in foster care

Rick Santorum is the best friend an orphanage ever had.

It’s clear he hates gay marriage, no news there for Pennsylvania’s most famous disdainer ofman on dogsex. But his nearwin in the Iowa caucuses last week reminded us of something even more pernicious: He really hates gay parenting. And so it seems the most likely result of a Santorum presidency would be tens of thousands of children stranded in group homes and on foster care rosters—all because heterosexual parents can’t be found for them.

This sounds like hyperbole. It’s not.

Talk to adoption experts about gay parents, and you’ll hear a frequent refrain: While many—even most—prospective parents are looking for “healthy white babies” to adopt, it is gay couples who most often take the children no one else wants: Children with disabilities. Older children. Children with problems. “Overall,” one 2001 study found, “gay men and lesbians are more willing to consider and accept children with a broader range of difficulties.”

More recent numbers affirm that observation. A 2007 study by the Urban Institute drew on Census numbers to suggest that 21 percent of children adopted by gay men have a physical disability—compared to 2 percent of children adopted by the population at large. That’s an astonishing gap.

And an October report by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute showed that more than 10 percent of children adopted by gays and lesbians are 6 years or older—”a population,” researchers noted, “generally perceived as more difficult to place.” Half the adoptees had spent time in foster care.

In other words: Gay and lesbian parents are doing damned hard work, providing loving homes to kids that few other people seem to want. They’re doing those kids—and society—a tremendous service. But you don’t hear even the tiniest acknowledgement of that from Rick Santorum.

Instead, this week he told a New Hampshire audience that children are better off with two heterosexual parents—even if one of the parents is in prison. “Even fathers in jail who had abandoned their kids,” Santorum said, “were still better than no father at all to have in their children’s lives.”

That follows his interview last year with the rightwing CNS news service in which he railed against gay adoption: “The state is not doing a service to the child and to society by not putting that child in a home where there is a mother and a father,” he said. “This is common sense. This is nature.”

Let’s pretend, for a moment, that Santorum is right. Let’s pretend there is no research showing that gays and lesbians are effective parents. Let’s pretend that Zach Wahls isnt the most awesome Eagle Scout ever. Let’s pretend there aren’t already 65,000 American families—including nearly 2,000 in Pennsylvania—made up of gays and lesbians and their adopted children. Let’s say a heterosexual mom and dad are the optimum arrangement for a young child.

So what?

The truth is that there are more than more than 100,000 American children waiting to be adopted—only half of whom actually find families in a given year. Heterosexual couples aren’t actually getting the job done. Santorum can talk all he wants about “nature,” but this is what happens when cubs are left to fend for themselves in the wild: They’re eaten by vultures. Even if Santorum’s right, Heather surely benefits far more by having two mommies than from having no mommies at all.

Why does this matter? Presidents don’t usually get involved in the nitty-gritty of adoption policy. That’s usually left to the states, right? The problem is that Santorum has made it clear that gay rights issues cannot be left to the states. And not coincidentally, Santorum’s church—which deeply influences his politics—has decided it would rather get out of the adoption business entirely rather than allow gay couples to benefit.

So it’s clear that a Santorum presidency would be a threat to thousands of gay families—and to tens of thousands of children hoping for a home of their own.

But it would be quite a boon for orphanages.



Around the Web