I read a recent OpEd column in your paper by Pastor Bob Emrich titled “Marriage: society’s bond with children.” As a straight, Christian adoptive mother and a child and family therapist, I was compelled to respond.
This article stated that it is the marriage of the biological parents that best guarantees a child’s sense of connection with their family and with society in general. This simply isn’t true. My husband and I adopted our daughter at 3 days of age, straight from the hospital where her overwhelmed mother made a conscious decision not to take her home the day before. Rather, she made an adoption plan. The other details are not important right now, but one thing that can be said for certain is that neither of my daughter’s biological parents were in any way prepared to adequately provide for her physical or emotional needs.
I hope we can all agree that for the countless adoptive families in the state of Maine and beyond, “biology” really doesn’t matter all that much when it comes to responsibly parenting children.
It seems likely to me that the real agenda of Mr. Emrich’s piece was an attempt to purport that only straight parents ought to be raising children. The research that I have read indicates that, and this is in accordance with the American Psychological Association back in 2004, “There is no scientific data that lesbian mothers or gay fathers are unfit to parent on the basis of their sexual orientation … on the contrary, results of this research suggest that gay and lesbian parents are just as likely to provide supportive and healthy home environments as are heterosexual parents.”
I even read one study in my professional counseling journal last week suggesting that children raised in same-sex households are actually “outperforming” their peers academically. In all other areas, according to many studies, there seems to be no difference. These kids are just as happy, healthy, socially involved, spiritually involved, etc., as their peers who are raised by heterosexual parents. In addition, the APA states that “there is no evidence that children of gay or lesbian couples are confused about their gender identity, either in childhood or later, in adulthood, or that they are more likely to be homosexual.”
It’s worth restating that this isn’t my personal agenda, as I’ve been a married, straight, Christian woman for quite some time. It is my faith that prohibits me from condemning people … and I could not in good conscience work toward impeding people who are attempting to provide a safe, committed, loving home life for their children.
The healthiest bonds between society and children are defined by mutual respect, acceptance and developmental understanding, along with the commitment of time and resources. Similarly, in my experience and in my 20 years of professional practice, I find that the strongest bonds between parents and children have most of those same characteristics, with the addition of unconditional love and devotion, pure and simple. If kids are loved this way and are healthy and happy in their homes, whether they are parented by same-sex parents or not, shouldn’t that be celebrated and protected?
This November, I will be voting “Yes” to allow marriage licenses for same-sex couples here in Maine. There is simply no empirically based, socially scientific argument supporting its opposition. And as far as abiding by my faith? Who am I to judge the quality and integrity of the love two people have for one another? I am not perfect, I am not God. However, Christ did clearly say that the two greatest commandments of our faith are: Love your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
I will not be a part of denying the right of same-sex couples (many of whom also are raising children) to make a lifelong commitment of love and devotion to one another. No child should ever have to say “my parents aren’t allowed to get married.”
Amy Riddell, LCPC, is a married mother of two, and a practicing child and adolescent clinical counselor in Bar Harbor, Maine.