How the Bigots Slander Adoptive Parents

How the Bigots Slander Adoptive Parents April 3, 2013

As they strain to justify their religion-based bigotry toward gay people on some reasonable grounds, the Christian bigots have seized on the idea that there is something special about a child being raised solely by their biological parents and something inherently bad about a child being raised by anyone else. A child has a “right” to be raised by their biological mother and father, they claim, negating the reality for millions of parents and children as inherently flawed. Tom Junod, who has an adoptive daughter with his wife (they are infertile), writes about his anger at being dismissed in that manner:

What has changed our understanding of the way some people see our marriage is, of course, the general debate unleashed by the last two days of argument before the Supreme Court on the subject of same-sex marriage. No, my wife and I are not of the same sex; I am a man and she is a woman. But we are infertile. We did not procreate. For the past nine years, we have been the adoptive parents of our daughter; we are legally her mother and father, but not biologically, and since Tuesday have been surprised and saddened to be reminded that for a sizable minority of the American public our lack of biological capacity makes all the difference — and dooms our marriage and our family to second-class status…

For a long time I was told that same-sex marriages somehow endangered my own, but like anyone who has ever been married, I understood that whatever threat there was to my marriage came from within rather than from without. I was not the only one to reject out of hand the logical fallacy of what might be called the “zero sum” defense of traditional marriage, and before long I started hearing an argument based on biology or, as groups such as the National Organization for Marriage would have it, “nature.” For all its philosophical window dressing — for all its invocation of natural law, teleological destiny, and the “complementary” nature of man and woman — this argument ultimately rested on a schoolyard-level obsession with private parts, and with what did, or did not, “fit.” There was “natural marriage” and “unnatural” marriage, and it was easy to tell the difference between them by how many children they produced. A natural marriage not only produced children; it existed for the purpose of producing children. An unnatural marriage not only failed to produce children; it resorted to procuring children through unnatural means, from artificial insemination to surrogacy to, yes, adoption. The argument against same-sex marriage now boiled down to a kind of biological determinism, and so became almost indistinguishable from an argument against adoption itself…

Since my wife and I adopted our daughter, we’ve come to know many same-sex couples who are also adoptive parents, and it is exactly as proponents of “natural marriage” fear: it is their prowess as parents, rather than as pro-creators, that turns out to be persuasive. I have come to believe that they have the right to be married because I know that I have the right to be married, and I know that they are the same as me — because I know that I have more in common with gay adoptive parents than I do with straight biological ones. In my wife and in me, the self-evident biological purpose of procreation may be broken, but by God, we earn the right to be called parents because of the effort required to raise our child apart from the sacred biological bond…and so they, our friends engaged in the same effort, the same mighty and holy labor, earn the right to be called married. People wonder why public opinion regarding same-sex marriage has shifted so quickly; although I can only answer from my own experience, I can tell you that in my case my recognition of the right of same-sex couples to marry grew directly from the arguments mustered against it, because ultimately I realized they were also mustered against my wife, against me, and against the one person all the pro-marriage protestors and pamphleteers have pledged themselves to protect:

My child.

Tens of thousands of gay couples have adopted children and given them a stable, loving home — something that they obviously did not have with their straight, biological parents, for any number of reasons. And a hell of a lot of those children were particularly difficult cases, older kids or ones with handicaps of one type of another that most heterosexual couples tried to avoid adopting. They should be praised, not denigrated.

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  • raven

    40% of US children do not live with their two biological parents.

    Most of those 40% US children are…living with a xian parent.

    And a lot of those are fundie death cultists. Fundies have higher rates of teenage pregnancy and divorce than the general population.

    Oh well, hypocrisy is one of their 3 sacred sacraments.

  • raven

    How the Bigots Slander Adoptive Parents

    This should be how xian bigots slander other xians.

    1. Most of those 40% without the two biological parents are in at least nominally xian homes.

    2. Most adoptive parents are…xians.

    This is all by simple demography. Xians still make up 70-75% of the US population.

    Looks like they got in the hate sacrament as well.

    When xians get tired of hating women, gays, atheists, etc., they hate each other and themselves.

  • Desperate to find some justification for marriage discrimination that didn’t come from the Bible, wingnuts have latched onto procreation as their lifeline. They must have figured that the only heterosexuals who would not fall into their ideal of “must live with both biological parents” would be single mothers, who, after all, are just slutty sluts who got what they deserve (except for Bristol Palin, who is a saint for keeping her baby even after being dumped by the evil Levi Johnston and is now a confirmed abstinence fairy), so who could object to that?

    I don’t know if they realized what a slap in the face their stance is to adoptive parents, step parents, or even, Jeebus forbid, couples like my wife and I who chose to be child free. I don’t think they really care either. Any casualties are worth the fight to “save” marriage for those who truly deserve it. Like Newt Gingrich.

  • jcarr

    As both a licensed foster parent and as a white man married to a black woman, the arguments against same-sex marriages offend me on many levels.

    Thank you very kindly for this post, Ed. I normally lurk, finding your posts fascinating and amusing, but this one really resonated.

    In all my years working within the foster care system, and interacting with all these kids in the foster care system with major behavioral issues, I have yet to encounter a child from a same-sex household. These kids come from almost exclusively heterosexual households (bio mom & dad, bio grandparents, bio dad and stepmom, adoptive mom and dad, etc.), and the kids’ problems can generally be tied to their circumstances, i.e. parents with drug problems, bad or nonexistent parenting, sexual and/or physical abuse, mental abuse, parents with mental illness, nasty divorce, and parents in jail.

    NEVER are the kids screwed up because their caregivers were gay.

    I currently have a little girl in my house with some behavioral issues, and her father is (no joke) a time-traveling vampire who just vanishes for months at a time while her mother has a history of mental illness, telling her daughter that silver fillings in your mouth are “toxicity” (her words) and enable the aliens to read our minds. Because she loves her mother, she believes this nonsense.

    But, hey….her parents aren’t gay, which, apparently, would be soooo much worse.

  • velociraptor

    Wait…he couple is infertile and married?!!?!?!?!?!?!!11111111111??

    Their license should be revoked. At once!

  • anubisprime

    Let those with such low IQ’s and high bigotry speak freely, encourage them to expand and expound their theories in open court or on national news networks, let the media carry their ‘arguments’ in full to their readership, let the cretins dig their own pit of hell…and watch them topple in !

  • wscott

    Thansk for linking to this, Ed. Gays getting married does nothing to “invalidate” my (hetero but childless) marriage, but it’s insane how many right-wingers want to. For that matter, My parents couldn’t have conceive, so they adopted me & mysister; I guess that invalidates their marriage as well.

  • marcus

    anubisprime @6 I suspect that this may be one of the key reasons that public opinion has changed to support marriage equality so dramatically, “We do not want to be like those people!”

  • Synfandel

    What the hell to children have to do with it? I am sick and tired of reading implications, insinuations, and outright statements that my marriage is not valid because my wife and I don’t have children. Children are completely and utterly irrelevant to the question of whether couples—be they opposite-sex or same-sex—should be allowed to marry. Any argument for or against same-sex marriage that focuses on children misses the point. Two adults who love each other should be allowed to marry WHETHER THEY CAN HAVE, CANNOT HAVE, CHOOSE TO HAVE, OR CHOOSE NOT TO HAVE, CHILDREN by natural means, artificial means, adoption, or any other means.

    Please pardon my raised volume, but I’m fed up with this line of argument. Anyone on any side of this debate who says that the legitimacy of marriage—gay or straight—depends on having children—born, adopted, decanted, constructed, or grown in greenhouses—can kiss my childless, happily married ass.

  • transenigma32

    Help me out, I’m confused.

    I thought adoption was the solution to abortion with these Christianists? Now they’re condemning adoption, too? Force a woman to give birth telling her that she’ll have the option to adopt it out since she can’t afford the baby, and then turn around and force her to keep it?

    They’re so desperate that they’re destroying their own anti-abortion argument to stop something they’re going to lose against, anyway.

  • Big Boppa

    My fundimentalist xian mother beat me at least once a month beginng before I’m able to remember until age 14 or so when I got big enough to resist or run away. Many times the beatings would last until I was bloody or unresponsive or both. Once she tried to cut off my penis with a pair of scissors. Twice she almost killed me. My father turned a blind eye to all this in the name of keeping peace in the family – whatever the fuck that meant. I would have given anythig to be adopted by someone who wanted me.

    Tell me again how biological parents are superior.

  • hunter

    They’re really trying to offend everyone, aren’t they? I wish them all success.

  • Stacy

    Jebus, Big Boppa, I’m so sorry.

  • garnetstar

    The fake anti-marriage equality argument that peeves me is “Children need both their mother *and* their father! If they’re both not there, the children will suffer! So adoption by a same-sex couple, or raising the biological child of one partner, is bad for the child!”

    What about my brother? His wife died of leukemia at 34, and he raised their three children (then aged 8, 5, and 3) completely by himself. Yes, it would have been easier (and happier) if his wife had lived, but those children turned out mighty fine, thank you. Thing is, no one screamed that those children needed their biological mother, that without both their biological parents, they’d become sociopaths. If my brother had married again, no one would have objected that children must be raised only by both biological parents.

    But same-sex married couples who adopt or who raise the biological child of one of them will inevitably turn out a socially maladjusted monster. Because no one except both bio parents can nurture a child.

  • Adoption is bad, hm? Let’s consider the case of Jesus, adopted child of Joseph. That’s right. Mary was betrothed to Joseph, and she was still a virgin when God decided to rape her and impregnate her. Then he abandoned her, assuming that good-guy Joseph would not mind receiving “damaged goods” and would accept the product of the rape (Jesus), which he did, in effect adopting Jesus and raising him as his own child.

    So, the ideal of biological mother + biological father + child = Ideal Family doesn’t even apply to the Holy Family.


    Synfandel @ #9, thank you for that eloquent statement, which reflects my own belief.


    My husband was the product of an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. He was adopted at 2 weeks old by a couple who were unable to conceive yet desperately wanted children. They were good parents to him. Why is this not a good thing??

  • eucliwood

    When I come across that, I wont treat it as if it has ever lifted off of the ground. All they will get is “What?? What are you talking about? What on EARTH gave you that idea?” Ill react to it like it is some 2013 new age shit I have just come across… And then I’ll say that parenting is about providing, keeping people safe, and giving guidance. Thats it. And that there are many children that are just as well off with non bio parents as with bio; that being bio does nothing to help fulfill what is required to support and raise a human being.

  • Karen Locke

    I, too, am adopted, at birth, by parents who couldn’t have a child, from parents who already had more children than they could feed. Since it was handled by an adoption agency, that’s the total sum of what I know about my birth parents. My adoptive parents generally did a good job, I think. We had a few minor issues, but what family doesn’t?

    Husband and I will soon have our 33rd anniversary in a childfree marriage.

    Thus, the whole conservative argument about marriage => procreation is utter bunk. My parents, who could not procreate, raised a daughter; my husband and myself, who I assume to have been fertile, chose not to procreate. Yet there was nothing wrong with my parents’ marriage or my marriage.

    The fundies can go to their imagined hell, where they belong.

  • ellien

    As an adoptee and a married woman who hasn’t been able to have children I have often felt the same about these arguments made by the traditional marriage folks. I take great offense that they use families like mine to try and degrade others when in my opinion they degrade marriage, family and raising children more then anyone else. They are the ones with the problem not adoptive families, not homosexuals.

    Here is something they conveniently forget, anyone can have a child biologically, and many times it is by accident. There is no accident involved in adopting a child, a child is adopted because they are wanted and there is never any question otherwise. And being wanted goes a long way in raising a secure and confident child. They also conveniently seem to forget all the dysfunctional biological families that exist in the world as well, to say that biologically having children is what makes children thrive is to completely ignore so much that is front of them.

  • thumper1990

    Xians seem to have this strange belief that life is a good thing no matter the circumstances. You get what God gives you, and deal with it. This is a byproduct of their harmful belief that our entire existence is merely a test to see if you’re worthy of Heaven. Get beaten every day by your shitty biological parent? Don’t worry, turn the other cheek and you get to live on Candy Mountain for the rest of eternity!

    I, on the other hand, believe that no life at all is probably better than one spent in eternal misery. Because I believe that we get one shot at this, I also believe we should do our utmost to enjoy that shot, and to ensure others enjoy it. I want kids to end up with parents who love them, who will give them a good life. I couldn’t give a fuck what gender people are or whether they are the kid’s “natural” parents. All I care is that they are good parents. And (oversimplifying, I know) if they are bad parents, the kid should be taken from them and given to good parents.