Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Arkansas's Proposal to Ban Unmarried Couples From Adopting

Posted by Mandy at 8:03 AM
This is hot in the news, both state and national. Arkansans will vote in November on a proposal that seeks to ban unmarried couples from being eligible to adopt children. From what I've read, it doesn't seem to indicate that SINGLES cannot adopt children, but if you live with your partner and are unmarried, then you are being singled out.

Let's go ahead and get the pink elephant out of the room here. Obviously, this is simply a way to ban gay people from adopting children. Since there is no way for a gay or lesbian couple to legally marry in Arkansas, this bill would succeed in keeping them from adopting children. Of course, the people submitting it say that this is not just about gays not adopting, since they've made it equally discriminating against homo and heterosexuals.

I've read a few news reports on the issue, and have come to the decision that I think this is a bad idea.

In a totally idealistic world, only people with loving and stable marriages would adopt children. Our foster parents would do it just because they love children and feel the push from God to care for those with no one else to care for them, and not for a state check. I am blessed to know two families that are awesome foster parents. (and adoptive parents.) Brandy and Maury. But let's all get real, if only for a moment.

From the latest facts I could find online, there are around 3,600 children in foster care in Arkansas. Some live with families while awaiting adoption (that may never happen) and others that are not fortunate enough to find a foster home, live in state-maintained group homes. The people in support of this bill seem to think that because IDEALLY a married mother and father home is optimal for a child (and I completely agree,) that no one that is unmarried should be able to care for or adopt a child.

So, Mr. Jones and Mrs. Smith. Though you have lived together, out of wedlock, for over 14 years and both have respectable jobs and can provide a fantastic home for a child that otherwise will go without, you should not have the chance to do so. So what if a child or two or three that you would love to adopt are, instead, in a group home, which is possibly the least ideal setting for a child to be raised. This is a moral issue we're talking about! We can't let something like rationalization get in the way of our personal religious beliefs!

And, as a Christian, of course I am not in support of couples living together outside of marriage. Of course I agree that if we had more than enough married couples to foster and adopt the 3,600 children in our state's custody that there would be no reason to consider options outside of this Utopian arrangement. However, that is just not reality.

I look at a child I know personally that came to her now adoptive home, from a foster home. She was in a FOSTER home, not a group home. To say she was not being properly cared for is a vast understatement. Though this person or couple went through classes and got their stamp of approval from the state, they were NOT qualified to care for a child. Being a married couple does not equal stability. Married couples scream, yell, cheat, hit, and get divorced. It would be nearly impossible to know how the home really is that you're sending a child to. The same is true for unmarried couples that live together. Though, morally, they do not have the upper hand with living arrangements, why is one to assume they cannot raise a fantastic child and give him or her all of the love and attention and discipline he or she could ever need?

I, personally, was brought into this world by a married couple that divorced when I was 5. I eventually then lived with my dad and stepmother in another married couple's home. It was less than ideal at times. To me, marriage is not a magic act or word that makes a family good and stable.

What do you think about this proposal? Should religious beliefs about family trump all? Should the state be able to pass their own religious/moral beliefs onto our state as a whole? Is it discrimination and even going against unmarried couple's rights?


Anonymous said...

I have yet to see any statistics or studies done that show there is a lot of unmarried couples desiring adoption. I would think that percentage is remarkably small.

Furthermore, studies DO show that unmarried couples do not have as much stability as the traditional marriage. It's about the kids, not about the whims of unmarried couples. What type of home would be the most stable and provide long-term emotional and spiritual health?

Just shooting from the hip on this one. I just don't think the fictitious "Mr. and Mrs. Jones" that you referred to exist in great enough numbers to warrant the unhappy precedent that allowing unmarried couples to adopt would create in the homosexual community.

Mandy on Wednesday, 27 August, 2008 said...

@ Jeff - I totally agree that it is true that married couples offer a more stable living environment (in general) than unmarried couples.

However, do you think that a more stable life would involve growing up in a group home, or being bounced from foster home to foster home, or being raised in a 'stable' unmarried couple's home? This is my only point. What's the lesser of the two evils?

Shelley on Wednesday, 27 August, 2008 said...

I would vote for the ban. I don't think anyone has a perfect marriage, but I do think in most cases legally wed people are what those kids need. Do I think their are exceptions? Sure, but bending rules and making things socially acceptable that shouldn't be is a huge part of what's wrong with the lack of morals in our country today.

Me on Wednesday, 27 August, 2008 said...

I'll try to keep this short, but no promises--I feel very strongly on this. There should be no ban. I think that anyone(s) with the means to provide for and willing to go through the hoops, emotional roller-coaster, and cost of adopting a child is going to offer a far better life to that child than foster/state care. Period.

Married couples divorce frequently these days. I know people who were adopted by married parents that are no longer married. Would this ban mean a divorce ends the adoption and the child is taken away since they are not a married couple?

As someone that is living in a metropolitan area (re: high diversity of cultures) I see happy families in many forms-single parents, couples that are married, not-married, gay all with children and I'm think it's great for each child to have someone who cares for and protects them.

Why should the state act in a way that prevents a child from having a chance at life outside of "they system"?

Anonymous said...

I think if they are going to do this then they need to be specific about who this law is being aimed at instead of an all encompassing law.

There are many loving individuals out there that can raise a child wonderfully.There are tons of loving single mothers and fathers out there with biological children,as your proof.Those children grow up just as well adjusted as those who have been raised in a two parent home.It is not an ideal situation but it is certainly better than no parentage at all.I didnt grow up in an ideal situation.You didnt either.Were we raised in unstable environments,then?


Mandy on Wednesday, 27 August, 2008 said...

Lisa, sometimes I definitely think my environment was unstable. That isn't completely due to my parents divorcing and remarrying, but how they CHOSE to go about living in general. However, it was DEFINITELY better than being in foster care or in a group home! And, though many may argue, I think I turned out fairly well. lol

Mandy on Wednesday, 27 August, 2008 said...

Oops, sorry, should've been Liza, with a 'z.'

Sugar-n-Spice on Wednesday, 27 August, 2008 said...

Ok, I feel EXTREMELY strongly about this, too. But what I really get upset about is when the numbers start being thrown around. There are this many foster children, and this many waiting adopting children. Last I checked, the number of christian families far out numbers foster children... And I hate how everyone gets their panties in a wad because a gay couple wants to adopt. Again, the government is controlling something that the church should take care of. Notice I say should. I'm not blaming the government, "christians" have dropped the ball and forced other organizations/agencies to try and handle what we've been commanded by the bible to for our orphans (and widows, and poor). The fact remains that if every Christian family would take 1 foster child or orphan, the problem vanishes. I'm left wondering how many of the people pushing, backing, and feeling so strongly about this proposal have actually taken in 1 of our state's children. Or our world's. Change the life of 1 child. To this world, it might be just one child, but to that child, it's the whole world. Could possibly be his/her eternity.

By the way, I support the proposal. I just don't think there should have to be one.

Oh, and one other thing, the cost of adopting a child from the state is NOTHING. And there ARE people who do it for the subsidy that comes when multiple children are adopted, particularly ones with special needs. There ARE people who adopt for horrific reasons, and it can not be assumed that all who want to adopt and put forth the effort should be allowed. However, I will also agree that being married or not does not necessarily distinguish one kind of adoptive parent from another. I agree with Jeff, though. As a foster and adoptive parent, there is no chance I would have been able to parent my "born of the heart" children without the support of my spouse. Our partnership has been CRUCIAL. The stability that comes from a strong marraige, and God's mercies and freely given wisdom are the greatest factors in our ability to provide a loving, stable, safe home for our kids.

Maury on Wednesday, 27 August, 2008 said...

I was about to give you an earful on this, until I read Brandy's comment....and she literally took the words right out of my mouth. Which is good b/c I can't really type right now b/c I am holding my precious foster son right now.

I had someone stop me wanting me to sign the petition to get this on the ballet. I did sign it...b/c I knew morally, it was what I should do/believe. my heart, I was not so sure. B/C I just want the kids to have homes, parents that love them. When I got home and was talking to Clay about it, he told me I should have asked the lady, "yes, I will sign it, but my question to you is, are you willing to foster one of these children since you feel so strongly against unmarried people doing it?" And that is exactly how I feel about, it....only they lady was probably over 80 yrs old. haha OH, and then I saw on the news that half their signatures were thrown out b/c they weren't registered voters, which I am not, so I guess my decision was made for me!

Mandy on Thursday, 28 August, 2008 said...

My biggest problem is this: SINGLES can adopt children, jut not unmarried couples.

Brandy, I also could not raise my own children without the help of my husband, much less adopt more on top of them with no help, but this petition is not keeping those with no support from adopting. A single woman or man is still free to adopt all of the children he or she pleases. Why is this acceptable and an unmarried couple that at least can support each other, unacceptable? This is why I'm not clear on the intent of this measure.

You ladies made GREAT POINTS! I also had to wonder how many ppl signing the petition and pushing it were foster or adoptive parents. I know that I, personally, do intend to get into foster care (though I'm still praying God will nudge clayton in that direction), as our own children grow older. I figure we're starting with dogs and that will progress onto humans. ;)

Brandy, you are spot on. If EVERY Christian family was doing what we're called to do and take care of our poor, widowed, and orphans, the government would not have to come up with proposals and laws to prohibit and allow anything in regards to our children. Keep in mind that women like you and Maury, that have been so amazingly transparent in sharing your stories, are PAVING THE WAY for those like me. Seeing other ppl really do this makes it seem doable. Seeing real children and not just hear about the "problem" makes it something I feel I must do.

Maury on Friday, 29 August, 2008 said...

Mandy, I hope that someday you will be able to be a foster parent. I just think it is awesome that you have the desire. That is the first step...(so is praying for your husband to be on board...that was the advice Brandy so lovingly gave me when I said I wanted to do it but he didn't...and now look at us!) Becoming a foster parent is scary, but the moment I was placed with ours, I knew it was exactly what I was suppose to do, and it just felt right. I could not love him more if he was my own. It is my prayer that I can teach people that it isn't something scary to do by our example, thank you for what you have said about that.

Ana on Monday, 01 September, 2008 said...

Mandy, I sure missed your blog! You always have the most thought provoking discussions! I started working out of the home last week so I'm behind on blog reading.

Great topic!

I think Jeff expressed the sentiments I have on this topic better than I could express them.

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