February 9, 2011
The professional consensus in the child-welfare and adoption worlds is that decisions relating to the placement of children into new families should be made, first and foremost, to benefit the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society. You know the mantra: “In the best interests of the child.” Trouble is, too often, it’s lip service paid by sometimes well-intentioned and sometimes less high-minded adults who have other agendas – economic, political, ideological, personal or all of the above. Kids don’t vote, don’t lobby and don’t legislate, so the grownups most often get their way.
All this comes to mind because Arizona’s Senate is considering legislation (SB 1188) that would revise state law to mandate that “ a married man and woman” receive preference in the adoption of children. Individuals would be permitted to adopt under specific circumstances, for instance if a married couple was unavailable, if the alternative was long-term foster care and – ready for it? – if it served “the best interests of the child.”
Looking at a state that does not have married couples lining up around the block to provide homes for children in need of them (that goes for every state, by the way); in which gays and lesbians are not permitted to marry; in which about one-third of children in foster care, including some with the toughest special needs, are currently being adopted by singles – and in light of research clearly showing that children grow up far better in permanent, loving families regardless of the number or type of parents – I think it’s fair to ask whether the idea here is to engineer a better future for boys and girls, or to conduct some social engineering.