Monday, June 13, 2005

Adoption changes: some questions for the god-squad

This refers to the Scottish Executive's proposed legislation, which would improve the rights of homosexual and unmarried couples to adopt. Scotland's Catholic church, unsurprisingly, is opposing the move: Cardinal Keith O'Brien said to allow homosexual couples to adopt was "contrary to the common good".
"Such a measure would distort the understanding of the family, cause harm to children and promote the status of homosexual relationships.

"Homosexual unions are notoriously fragile and unstable and the small number of homosexual couples living together make the suggestion that this measure would increase the number of potential adoptive parents unrealistic."
The Church of Scotland, not wanting to be out-done by the Catholic church's heart-warming concern for the welfare of children also have opposed the move:
"Ms Milne said the Church of Scotland saw marriage as the best way of providing a happy and stable environment for a child.

She explained: "For a child, welfare is seen in terms of security and happiness and stability and a loving environment.

"The church sees marriage as the best way of providing exactly that situation of stability and security and happiness."
Let's be clear about this: children who are eligible for adoption are wards of the state and will either be in residential care or with foster parents on a temporary basis. How is it in the "common good" for them to remain in institutionalized care rather than in a supportive family environment? And anyway, surely it's the good of the child that should be considered, not some nebulous concept of the "common good"?

The problem with the churches is they hold on to this concept of an ideal world when what they should be considering is the best possible world. I know a couple of people working in the residential care sector; they are dedicated and do an extremely stressful job, which is poorly paid and has a rather low status in the "caring professions". None of those I've met working in this sector would disagree that a stable home environment, regardless of family type, is better than raising children in an institution. Are the churches not aware that many children are taken into care from heterosexual couples who are unable or unwilling to look after their own offspring? Surely being in a loving homosexual household - or one with unmarried parents - is better than being in a heterosexual one where daddy comes home drunk and beats his children or worse?

My own circumstances don't match the church's notion of an ideal: I'm separated from my son's mother and share custody of him with her. I wouldn't try to pretend that this is ideal, it isn't - but are the god-squad seriously of the view that my son should be taken into care in the interests of the "common good"?

And given the revelations over the last few years about those abused under the care of the Catholic Church, why aren't they embarrassed to pontificate about what is in the best interests of children?

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