Archive for Sunday, July 24, 2005

Gay adoptive parents facing opposition in hometown

State stays mum; some legislators fight issue

July 24, 2005

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— When Bill Dunn talks about his three adopted sons, it's pretty clear that being a father is the most important thing in his life.

His boys - 6-year-old Nathan, 5-year-old Haden and 2-year-old Henry - came from foster care in California. Now, they live in a comfortable two-story house with a front veranda and porch swing in a historic Wichita neighborhood. Dunn is a stay-at-home dad.

"My greatest hope for my children is they are tolerant, that they grow up to be nice people, kind people. I want my kids to be happy," Dunn said. "Even on your worst day, the blessings far outweigh any of the bad things that make you want to tear your hair out."

But some Kansans wouldn't see the boys' home as a Norman Rockwell painting because Dunn lives with Shaun Morse, his male partner of 15 years. They don't hide their relationship, and some people feel being gay is reason enough to disqualify them from parenthood.

Legislature involvement


Bill Dunn, left, holds Haden, 5, while Shaun Morse holds Henry, 2 , and Nathan, 6, on the front porch of their home in Wichita. Both Dunn and Morse are listed as parents of the California adopted boys. Kansas state law is silent on whether gays or lesbians can adopt foster children.

Bill Dunn, left, holds Haden, 5, while Shaun Morse holds Henry, 2 , and Nathan, 6, on the front porch of their home in Wichita. Both Dunn and Morse are listed as parents of the California adopted boys. Kansas state law is silent on whether gays or lesbians can adopt foster children.

Meanwhile, at the urging of conservative Rep. Steve Huebert, a joint legislative committee will review "adoption criteria" for foster children this year. It could recommend changes that the Legislature may - or may not - deal with next year.

"We need to have a policy to have a mother and father as adoptive parents," said Huebert, R-Valley Center. "We have a policy that allows more than that. I think that adoption should be limited to homes with a mother and father."

Despite Huebert's interest and his success in getting a review, it's not a front burner issue with every legislator.

"In the great scheme of issues that need to be resolved by the Legislature, this isn't at the top of the list," said Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence. "I haven't spent a lot of time worrying about it."

State stays silent

The Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services oversees the state's foster care program. Adoptions involving foster children are handled through SRS contractors.

State law is silent on whether gays or lesbians can adopt foster children. Unmarried couples can't adopt foster children jointly.

An unmarried individual can adopt and live with another person, but only the individual who adopted would have legal custody.

Last year, 627 foster children were adopted in Kansas and about half that number were placed in homes through private adoptions. SRS says the number of foster children averages about 4,500 per month.

The state doesn't keep statistics on how many gays and lesbians adopt foster children. However, Matt Foreman, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's executive director, said nationally about 22 percent of gay partners and 34 percent of lesbian couples are parents.

The 2000 Census showed 594,391 same-sex partner households nationally - 1 percent of all households. There were 3,973 same-sex partner households in Kansas - a fivefold increase from 1990 and 0.3 percent of all households.

Huebert said he isn't crusading against gays and lesbians.

"I have been getting different calls and people who say I am trying to attack the homosexual community, and that is not my goal," Huebert said. "Some say it's a political issue, and that's not my goal either."

Long-standing practice

Foreman called Huebert's statements somewhat disingenuous.

"It is not only anti-gay; it is anti-child," Foreman said. "All children deserve a loving home, and gay couples provide that in Kansas and all over the country without problems."

Foreman said a chief complaint is that a child living with a gay or lesbian couple will become gay or lesbian.

"A child's sexual orientation has nothing to do with the child's parents, otherwise you wouldn't have so many gay people," he said.

Foreman said Florida and Mississippi prohibit gay and lesbian couples from adopting and similar efforts were under way elsewhere. Legislation to prohibit or limit gays and lesbians from adopting or becoming foster parents failed this year in Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, he said.

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union asked a court to overturn the state of Missouri's decision to deny a woman's application for a foster parent license because she is a lesbian.

At issue is an unwritten state policy that prevents people who are openly gay from becoming foster parents. The state's social services department said it has a long-standing practice not to knowingly license as foster parents people who declare themselves to be homosexual.

Foreman sees attacking gay adoption as the conservatives' next move after preventing gay marriage. In April, Kansans became the 18th state to rewrite its constitution to say the only recognized marriage is between one man and one woman.

"This is just another example of - frankly - that bizarre obsession with homosexuality," Foreman said.

Healing emotional scars

Dunn and Morse returned to their hometown last year, thinking it would be a good place to raise a family. Dunn, who's called "Daddy," decided to stay home while Morse, who answers to "Poppa," joined the corporate world to be the breadwinner.

California authorities removed the boys from families unable to care for them, leaving scars that Dunn said he and Morse still are trying to heal with love and understanding.

"If we hadn't stood up to adopt them, they might have stayed in long term foster care, which is awful," Dunn said.

With talk of changing adoption procedures just starting, Dunn is concerned. While the California adoption papers list both Dunn and Morse as parents, he worries about what could happen in Kansas.

"My greatest fear is that they will write a law so broadly it will impact what already is a done deal in California," Dunn said. "I would not risk my children. We would leave, which is maybe what they want."

Comments

Baille 12 years, 11 months ago

"I have been getting different calls and people who say I am trying to attack the homosexual community, and that is not my goal," Huebert said. "Some say it's a political issue, and that's not my goal either."

Not only is Hubert wrongheaded, but he is clearly a liar as well. There is no way that this crusade to deny Kansas foster children a loving and stable home could be anything other than a sexual-orientation-based attack on Kansas homosexuals.

Foreman has it right: ""It is not only anti-gay; it is anti-child. All children deserve a loving home, and gay couples provide that in Kansas and all over the country without problems."

Hubert should be ashamed. He needs to go out and do some research, clear up his obvious ignorance, and then come back and apologize to all those people to whom he has brought needless woory and anxiety. Then he should adopt some kids of his own.

JHAWKGURL 12 years, 11 months ago

I am so happy for these individuals....lets look past what their sexual preference is and look at what lies in front of us......shall I spell it out? THEY GAVE CHILDREN A LOVING HOME!!! These children are blessed to have a home with two loving parents....the kids dont care what their sexual preference is...they dont even know what it means....nor do they probably care. I am so happy for this family. God bless! Just look at the picture of them! How happy and refreshing.

bluedog 12 years, 11 months ago

I agree completely JHAWKGURL and BAILLE. Look how HAPPY that FAMILY looks! How could you not want to provide the thousands of kids in foster care a loving and stable home. Gay, straight, black, white, single-parent -- the days of the nuclear family have long been over. Get over it! BTW...why is it that all the wacko legislators are from Wichita?

DaREEKKU 12 years, 11 months ago

I raise my hat to this family for having the bravery to raise such a progressive family in such a conservative state. Loving families deserve equal rights.

Jamesaust 12 years, 11 months ago

Kansas perpetually has about 2,000 children in need of adoption at any one time. It is shameful that those with direct influence over this situation like Rep. Huebert seek to limit the pool of potential homes rather than expand them.
It has been a quiet, secretive fact for some time that same-sex couples play a critical role in placing children least likely to be adopted - those with mental, or physical, problems, aged well beyond infancy, and/or non-caucasian. Rep. Huebert should be seeking to clarify legal ambiguity in the family structure and to further the financial commitment made to such difficult-to-place children. Ultimately, efforts such as this are self-defeating as they only can effect the placement of children under the care of the State of Kansas. As true with the couple in this story, Kansas has no ability to limit adoptions occurring outside of Kansas and no basis to challenge the parental status of those returning or moving to Kansas. The only effect of Rep. Huebert's proposal would be to place Kansan children at a disadvantage to those elsewhere.

lunacydetector 12 years, 11 months ago

i feel sorry for the poor children who have been traumitized already in their young lives. the stress must be incredible dealing with losing their parents in a car accident or having a drug addicted mom or dad who can't care then becoming a ward of the state bouncing from foster home to foster home - now some people want these kids to deal with even more stress by having them adopted by homosexual parents, not to mention the higher sexual confusion these kids experience with gay parents when compared to heterosexual parents.

it isn't for the good of the children to have them available for gay couples to adopt. it is for the good of the gay couples to have children available to adopt.

who exactly comes first, the kid or the gay couple? who should come first?

the kids should come first, of course.

Baille 12 years, 11 months ago

"[N]ow some people want these kids to deal with even more stress by having them adopted by homosexual parents, not to mention the higher sexual confusion these kids experience with gay parents when compared to heterosexual parents."

Those are completely unsupportable comments. It is not stress that kills the soul of a foster child. It is the lack of permanent bonds. This leads to an inability to form healthy bonds as adults and ultimately is one of the main factors that makes abuse, neglect, and foster care a generational problem. Again, the choice is not between heterosexual parents and homosexual parents. It is between a transitory/institutional existence and a permanent home.

As for the sexual confusion comment, back that statement up. I have had experience with gay/lesbian adoptive homes, and I have read many studies on the issue (which also including inter-racial adoptions), and I will tell you know that statement is absolutely contrary to everything I have seen and read.

lunacydetector 12 years, 11 months ago

You Want The Proof? here's one source

last year, the American College of Pediatricians came out with a paper discouraging the rearing of children in homosexual households.

the report, "Homosexual Parenting: Is It Time For Change?" cites studies showing that children who are reared in traditional two-parent homes are "more likely to thrive emotionally, mentally, and physically in a home with two heterosexual parents versus a home with a single parent."

the report notes that "...current studies that appear to indicate neutral to favorable results from homosexual parenting have critical flaws such as non-longitudinal design, lack of proper controls, and failure to account for confounding variables."

however, some studies do show that "Children reared in homosexual households are more likely to experience sexual confusion, practice homosexual behavior, and engage in sexual experimentation. Adolescents and young adults who adopt the homosexual lifestyle, like their adult counterparts, are at increased risk of mental health problems, including major depression, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, substance dependence, and especially suicidal ideation and suicide attempts."

http://www.acpeds.org/?CONTEXT=art&cat=22&art=50&BISKIT=2920801063

kuhusker 12 years, 11 months ago

Just FYI, The American College of Pediatricians is a biased source; they are a "Christian" organization which seems more focused on taking positions on issues such as abstinence-based sex ed and Terry Schiavo then actually doing anything medical or scientific.

Go check out their web site. (http://www.acpeds.org/)

In case you are curious, the mainstream, national, scientific pediatric association is called the American Academy of Pediatrics. (http://www.aap.org/).

Baille 12 years, 11 months ago

You are citing a secondary source (a report that "summarizes" studies) to back up your position?

Tell you what: go to Watson by the reference desk and look up some of these studies on your own. The original studies. Read them. Make sure they are peer reviewed and have someone check the statistical modeling for you. And then report here what you have found.

What I have found - and admittedly this was about ten years ago - was that there were no valid, peer-reviewed studies that showed the kinds of effects you assert. And anecdotedly that would comport with my own experience.

Specifically, I would like to see the study that shows this: "Children reared in homosexual households are more likely to experience sexual confusion, practice homosexual behavior, and engage in sexual experimentation." Sounds like a bunch of hogwash to me.

chronicdistortion 12 years, 11 months ago

Do the "studies" take into account that dysfunctional heterosexual households are the cause of the situation?

Here's a problem I have with this:

"But Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center, has requested lawmakers study the issue because he said a constituent of his was concerned that a lesbian couple might be allowed to adopt her granddaughter, who was in foster care."

Why doesn't Rep. Huebert tell his constituent to take care of his/her own granddaughter? People who sit back and let their offspring become lost in this system should have no say in how it's done.

CPSDirector 12 years, 11 months ago

Let me tell you something. I am a homosexual male that is the Director of CPS and I and other professionals in my field will fight to the end to make sure that these children are adopted out everyday to any loving family. I don't care if they are bi, straight, gay, purple, blue or green as long as they love thier children. So you fools that FEAR homosexuals adopting better fear me instead because I will always trump you when it comes to making sure all my kids get good loving homes. The gays are taking over and now finally the world can get corrected of all these pathetic heterosexual mistakes of slavery, KKK and now gays and lesbians. I'll crush your words right in your throat because I got myself to a position of power to make sure you disgusting hetero humans wont harm are position. These kids will get loving families. Fight me, I dare you!!!!!

JeffreyD5052 12 years, 11 months ago

I grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and now live in California. I would love to live in Kansas again and be close to my family.....But, because I am gay, I cant. This is a prime example.... In California we have protection laws....I am not discriminated against.

I greatly admire those in Kansas whom have stayed and continue to fight the battle.....

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