In 2003, Brodzinsky, Patterson, and Vaziri conducted a study of applicants for adoption at various licensed adoption agencies. Some two-thirds of these agencies reported application from potential gay and lesbian parents. Agencies that focused on placing special needs children generally reported more favorable attitudes toward gay and lesbian applicants.
The message appears to be that where care of individuals is given first priority, the actual abilities and nature of individuals are also given primary consideration. In situation where it is difficult to place children i.e. where the children themselves do not meet the "ideal" of what children are supposed to be, the parents also need not meet the societal ideal. The change in preference reflects a genuine understanding of the underlying nature of the family relationship. At their core, families exist to provide a nurturing, supportive, and protective environment for their members. The gay, and other non-traditional applicants, are providing these services as well as more traditionally-defined potential parents. In fact, their very willingness to take on the additional burdens of raising a "non-traditional" child may reveal a yet greater level of caring and persistence. Adoptions of special needs children by non-traditional families reveal the family as an adaptive institution that works toward the greater inclusiveness of society in general.
Such inclusiveness is to be lauded in today's increasingly diverse world. Politicians and activists are continually emphasizing the importance of multiculturalism and diversity. Restrictive and prejudicial laws and regulations do little to enhance understanding and broaden core values. If the real aim of society is to provide a welcoming home for all, why should not the talents of all be utilized toward this end? As Hodge shows, gay people are being represented so frequently in contemporary media that some gay activists fear that gay culture as a distinct entity is actually beginning to disappear.
The enormous "differences" that once set apart such non-traditional lifestyles are now being shown to not be that different at all. Gay men and women participate in many of the same things as heterosexuals. Many are trendsetters, and occupy prominent places in economic, social, and increasingly, in political life. The argument that children raised in non-traditional homes are somehow marginalized or denied seems to hold little merit. On one level, children in such homes would not appear to be being denied anything. In fact, they are benefiting fro a uniquely broad perspective on life and its possibilities. The prejudices that surround such lifestyles fade away as those lifestyles become more familiar. A family that once was non-traditional appears as but another contemporary variant of a universal type. S the contributions of the non-traditional family are revealed, it is also recognized that these families play a vital role along with other families. Their contributions are seen as similar - if not in many ways identical - to those of other "traditional" families. Hodge's meeting depictions point out the omnipresence of gay people and their role as driving forces in many aspects of modern culture and society. Children in these families are exposed to the modern values of diversity and cooperation along with a strong belief in individual choice. Hodge even notes the prevalence of anti-discriminatory laws that go beyond simple prohibitions of job or educational discrimination. Many regulations now prevent public support of curricula and organizations - religious groups meeting on school grounds, religious songs and literature, etc. - that might tend to enforce anti-gay views, or otherwise discriminate against non-traditional lifestyles
If diversity is being protected to such an extent, is society not declaring diversity to be an important, even a central, value?
So it is that non-traditional families have come to occupy an increasingly prominent place within the framework of American life. More and more the non-traditional families seems less and less like an immoral anomaly than a minor variant of a healthy and vibrant American institution. Families nurture their members by providing loving care and a safe home. Increasingly they create their own forms and rules. Still, these unique structures fit comfortably within more universal norms, and in fact, help to reinforce them. The growing popularity of non-traditional families reflect a society that is rapidly changing. The needs of the past have been replaced with the demands of the present. The family has adapted to meet these new requirements. The nation has always been committed to the ideals of liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and contemporary society has greatly encouraged individual exploration and introspection. Non-traditional families offer a way for individuals to be themselves while creating environments and communities that meet their needs and connect them with others of like mind. Non-traditional families are a source of strength in modern day America. They should also be a source of pride and inspiration.
Brodzinsky, David M., and Jesus Palacios, eds. Psychological Issues in Adoption: Research and Practice. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005.
Hodge, David R. "Learning to Hear Each Others' Voice: A Response to Melendez and LaSala." Social Work 52.4 (2007): 365+.
Laird, Joan. "Chapter 7 Lesbian and Gay Families." Normal Family Processes: Growing Diversity and Complexity. Ed. Froma Walsh. 3rd ed. New York: Guilford Press, 2003. 176-209.
Ryan, Scott D., Sue Pearlmutter, and Victor Groza. "Coming out of the Closet: Opening Agencies to Gay and Lesbian Adoptive Parents." Social Work 49.1 (2004): 85+.
Smith, Fred O. "Gendered Justice: Do Male and Female Judges Rule Differently on Questions of Gay Rights?" Stanford Law Review 57.6 (2005): 2087+.
Weeks, Jeffrey, Brian Heaphy, and Catherine Donovan. Same Sex Intimacies: Families of Choice and Other Life Experiments. London: Routledge, 2001.
Wegar, Katarina, ed. Adoptive Families in a Diverse Society. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2006.
Jeffrey Weeks, Brian Heaphy, and Catherine Donovan, Same Sex Intimacies: Families of Choice and Other Life Experiments (London: Routledge, 2001) 48.
Scott D. Ryan, Sue Pearlmutter, and Victor Groza, "Coming out of the Closet: Opening Agencies to Gay and Lesbian Adoptive Parents," Social Work 49.1 (2004).
Joan Laird, "Chapter 7 Lesbian and Gay Families," Normal Family Processes: Growing Diversity and Complexity, ed. Froma Walsh, 3rd ed. (New York: Guilford Press, 2003) 183
Joan Laird, "Chapter 7 Lesbian and Gay Families," Normal Family Processes: Growing Diversity and Complexity, ed. Froma Walsh, 3rd ed. (New York: Guilford Press, 2003) 185.
Katarina Wegar, ed., Adoptive Families in a Diverse Society (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2006) 49.
Fred O. Smith, "Gendered Justice: Do Male and Female Judges Rule Differently on Questions of Gay Rights?" Stanford…