As with all generations, it is the responsibility of the young to outwardly push cultural boundaries in the hopes of promoting progressive change—change that inherently defies the pre-existing norm.
Undeniably, one of the most pressing social issues of our generation centers itself on defining just what “family” is—more specifically, the legality of same-sex marriage and adoption. Although the issue of family has evoked division among communities worldwide, it is important to recognize the growing acceptance of civil unions and gay marriage, endowed with the same legal rights as married couples.
Yet, despite the changing perception of partnership, the issue of same-sex adoption significantly lags behind—ultimately jeopardizing the rights of a homosexual couple to create a family. If the world is beginning to accept civil unions, then why does the freedom to adopt come into question?
On April 14, 2014, the Maltese Parliament approved a law recognizing same-sex partnership as equally valid as marriage. Furthermore, the law allows for homosexual couples to adopt. While this legislation numbered Malta among the nearly 25 European countries to legally acknowledge same-sex unions, it made them only the 10th European nation to allow adoptions by same-sex couples. Although the Maltese Parliament voted 37-0 to legalize the two standards, the bill was met with continual opposition from the country’s Nationalist Party—who abstained from voting. Many lawmakers against the bill argued that same-sex adoption threatens the children’s best interests. Such opponents held that adoption is a right of the child and not a right of the couples, heterosexual or otherwise. Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna stated, “This [law] does not reflect the order established by God in creation and may expose the children eventually entrusted to such adoptive parents to adverse effects.” Additionally, Pope Francis openly voiced his disapproval despite his highly appraised comment: “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seek the Lord?” Regardless of such arguments, Malta—a nation with 98 percent of its 412,000 residents belonging to the Roman Catholic Church—met the law with celebration.
Since its most recent statistic in 2008, UNICEF has found that over 153 million children (ranging from infants to teenagers) are classified as orphans—having lost at least one parent. Of this number, over 13 million have lost both parents. Despite the intentions of foster care, many of these quasi-parental institutions are largely flawed, being understaffed and poorly regulated. Consequently those who are not adopted leave the system with a poor education, lack of basic life skills, and a propensity for a life of exploitation and poverty. Regardless of one’s definition of “family,” there exists a strong demand to find permanent homes for millions of children.
Denying these children the opportunity for adoption, regardless of the parents’ sexual orientation, is a grave injustice. Opponents of same-sex adoption want to argue on behalf of the “rights” of children. Yet who are they to decide that a heterosexual couple is intrinsically better prepared and more loving than another type? How can these opponents possibly know what environment is better for the child?
If you want to argue about the child’s rights, think about this: Does the child not have a right to a home? To an education? To a chance at a fulfilling and happy life? Same-sex couples who decide to adopt want the child and are willing to provide him or her with an environment filled with opportunity. Would this same child be better off trying to find his or her way through the foster care system until he or she turns 16 and is left alone? Furthermore, just what exactly did Bishop Scicluna mean when he stated that children who are adopted by same-sex couples are subject to “adverse effects?”
I recognize that children under same-sex parents may be prone to bullying at school and may face challenges in conceptualizing the controversy of homosexuality.
Yet, in my experience, I faced bullying despite having heterosexual parents and, at a young age, I had to conceptualize the hatred embedded in terrorism (being only six years old on 9/11). These challenges, therefore, are faced by every child and in no way legitimizes the claim that same-sex households are inadequate. Perhaps the Bishop is instead implying that same-sex parents will manipulate the adopted child into becoming homosexual. Under this pretense, the Bishop must believe homosexuality is therein a choice—and I thought we lived in a progressive world?
We talk about making the world a better place and yet something as straightforward as finding an orphan a home is still met with opposition and debate. If Malta is an example of anything, it is an example of the world taking a step in the right direction. Let’s embrace our responsibility to defy the norm and help continue this forward push, before more children are left to chance.
Featured Image by Breck Wills / Graphics Editor