A couple I know recently adopted two little boys. The boys are four and five years old and had a very difficult start in life. I only know tiny bits of their history (I wouldn’t ask – it’s none of my business) but what I do know was enough to bring tears to my eyes. Initially, I welled up because of what the boys had seen and been through; then I welled up with gratitude that they had been removed from that situation and placed at the centre of a loving home and family.
These boys will be loved and cherished for the rest of their days. They now have the opportunity to have a childhood. They are part of an extended family which has embraced them and folded them into its bosom, letting them know that they are loved and accepted and wanted.
Should the unthinkable happen – and one of their parents become incapable, for whatever reason, of taking care of them – the other parent will step in and assume the role of sole care-giver. As is only right, of course, because they have adopted the boys together.
It’s just as well they’re in the UK, so, because they’d never get that security here in Ireland. You see, my friends – the adoptive parents – are gay. They have been in a committed relationship for over ten years, and five years ago, they become legally recognised as a couple. At the beginning of this year the adoption of their boys was finalised.
In Ireland, it is perfectly legal for a gay person to adopt a child – as a single person. Even if they are in a relationship, the non-adopting partner will not have equal parental rights – even though their relationship will have been taken into consideration during the adoption process.
This issue is back in the news again in Ireland because we have a new incoming government. They are ‘looking at things’ and trying to see what they can do to improve matters for citizens and residents.
I am stunned that we are even having a discussion about this. Why shouldn’t gay people be allowed to marry? Why shouldn’t they be allowed to adopt children as a couple? Surely the focus of any adoptive legislation should be on the child/ren involved and the perceived ability of the potential adoptive parents to parent?
Surely, as a nation, we should grow up and stop worrying about what loving, consenting adults do in their bedrooms? Surely, what is important is that the parents love each other and their children? Surely, all that matters is that children are loved, safe, secure and have their needs met? Surely, what their parents do or don’t do to express their love for each other in private is irrelevant?
I have heard the argument that the ‘ideal’ is for every child is to be brought up in a family with a mother and a father. And that’s marvellous – but guess what? Ideals are things we strive for, not standards that we impose as minimums and then use to punish people who don’t meet these minimums.
If we are to apply the ‘rule of ideals’ across the board and extrapolate it into every situation, I guess I should get my children ready to be taken into care. I’m a divorced woman with two children. That’s not ideal. My eldest child has not seen – or heard from – her father in five years. My youngest has never seen her father. Well, that’s not ideal either, is it?
I find it very difficult to comprehend how anyone would fight to deny a child a loving, secure, safe home. I am reminded of my own childhood. My parents were heterosexual and married to each other. For the first 15 years of my life, I went to bed worrying about which one of the heterosexual males floating around would get into bed beside me on any given night. I cried myself to sleep every night of my life until I was 20.
If you had offered me the choice between living with two, married heterosexual parents and suffering abuse – physical, mental, emotional, psychological and sexual – every day of my life and living with two homosexual parents who loved each other and loved me, I would have walked across hot coals to get access to the latter.
Heck! I’d have gone to live with two homosexual orang utans if it would have meant that I would have been safe.