I see another Crisis essay on “traditional” marriage here, focusing, as the Right often does, on using children to tug at heartstrings or gall bladder to whip up concern about lesbian or gay people wanting some legal protection. Pope Francis is pulled into it:
The family is the foundation of co-existence and a guarantee against social fragmentation. Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s growth and emotional development.
While it isn’t true of all conservatives, it is true of many that human rights are a convenient prop for advocacy in the culture of complaint. In this case, same-sex unions. I get tired of people who use children for their own political ends.
As a pro-life Catholic, I’d prefer to address the real need which is, as Pope Francis suggests, that all children should grow up with a family. For many reasons, a good father and a good mother are ideal. But many non-traditional families are attentive to the need for extended family or close friends of both sexes to augment either a single parent or, not as commonly, a same-sex couple. Is one parent better than none? If a same-sex couple is willing to adopt a child nobody else accepted, I’d be inclined to think two are better than none. We already see the social fragmentation of people emerging from eighteen years of institutionalized foster care, or the serial homes kids pass through.
And if there are concerns about IVF or surrogacy or the tens of thousands of dollars that can be leveraged to get an infant into one’s empty crib, it seems to me heterosexual couples can manage finances and biology as well as anybody.
But mainly, I’m thinking of the millions of children worldwide (a few hundred thousand in the US alone) who have neither father nor mother, and who, in institutions, know foster care as a way of life. If children are indeed a grave concern here, why aren’t more people who publicly present as anti-LGBT more explicitly pro-adoption? One doesn’t have to be childless to adopt. One doesn’t have to wait for an infant. One doesn’t have to idealize a close ethnic match.
The Church doesn’t have to envision itself as only a supplier of infants. The Church could also promote adoption among couples already with children, assist with home studies, conduct workshops and classes and facilitate foster/adoption certification, and flood the lists of social workers beyond Catholic Charities with willing families ready to receive children who have neither father, mother, nor permanent family of any kind.
I lose patience with the self-styled pro-family advocates who cannot see past their personal square one to get to the issue on which they can actually make a difference. Lots of money and effort is expended on opposing same-sex unions. But I see no comparable campaign to ramp up efforts for adoption. Sad. And likely revealing. For a number of commentators, this is about being against, not being for.