It’s already being called the religious right’s “47% video.” John Eastman, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the lead religious right organization fighting against marriage equality for gay couples, called Supreme Court Justice John Roberts’ decision to adopt two children “second best,” less than two weeks before the Supreme Court considers two high-profile gay marriage cases.
John Eastman, chairman of NOM, told AP:
“You’re looking at what is the best course societywide to get you the optimal result in the widest variety of cases. That often is not open to people in individual cases. Certainly adoption in families headed, like Chief Roberts’ family is, by a heterosexual couple, is by far the second-best option,” said John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage. Eastman also teaches law at Chapman University law school in Orange, Calif. [emphasis added]
Chief Justice Roberts and his wife Jane have two adopted children, John and Josephine. No comment from the Roberts children as to whether they find the Chief Justice a “second best” dad.
What do “marriage defenders” have against adopted kids?
We’ve written before about the leitmotif of contempt that many anti-gay bigots seem to have for adopted kids.
Case in point: the Catholic church overall, and Catholic Charities in particular. The Catholics don’t even blink at the notion of cutting off services to adopted kids in order to take a swipe at gays. Catholic Charities has cut off adoptions and/or foster care services in Illinois, Massachusetts and DC. When it came juggling their hatred of gays with the welfare of children, the gay-haters in Catholic Charities and the Catholic Church went for gay-bashing and ignored the kids.
Pope Francis is an adoption-hater too
Then there’s the new Pope, Francis, formerly Bergoglio, who called the adoption of children by gay parents “a form of discrimination.” Here’s then-Cardinal Bergoglio in a letter opposing gay marriage in 2010 (translated from the Spanish):
The people of Argentina will face in the coming weeks, a situation whose outcome may seriously injure the family.This is the bill on same-sex marriage. The issue here is identity, and the survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake is the lives of so many children who are discriminated against in advance, depriving them of growing up with a mother and father as God desires. At stake is a direct rejection of God’s law, also engraved in our hearts.
And what does Pope Francis call being an orphan with no parents at all?
Interesting how Francis, along with the religious right anti-gay haters, just assumes that gay parents are somehow stealing their adopted children from straight parents. The very reason kids are in adoption services is because they have no parents. If they were so wanted, they’d already have parents, adoptive or otherwise. But the very idea that the new Pope doesn’t even understand the plight of kids in adoption, that they have no home, no family, no parents, is shocking.
It’s not like adopted kids were “stolen” from their “wonderful” birth parents
Not to mention, where does the Pope think gay parents get their adoptive kids from? Usually heterosexual parents who didn’t want them. If anyone deprived these kids of God’s plan it was the heterosexuals who birthed them and then gave them away, not the gay parents who provided them the family they were dearly lacking.
I also take issue with those who argue that Eastman was simply stating that it would be “better” for adopted kids to have stayed with their birth parents. That seems an awfully naive thing to say. It would be better to stay with your birth parents who either don’t want to, or can’t, care for you? Really? That doesn’t even make sense. Adoption isn’t ever the second-best option for these kids, it’s the only option because the birth parents are gone.
The real issue here is which home will provide a better environment for the child to grow up in. The anti-gay bigots just sort of knee-jerk assume it’s a hetero married home – any hetero married home – because that’s the policy agenda they’re pushing. But they’re not looking at the home itself, at the parents themselves, when making these odd blanket statements about married heteros being better parents. They’re not better first-best parents if they’re abusive parents. Not if they beat their kids. Not if they’re crack addicts. And not if they’re in prison or dead or have simply abandoned their child.
The underlying premise here is almost the notion that parents who adopt kids, straight or gay parents, have somehow “stolen” the kids from an otherwise good home.
Adoptive parents are real parents, NOM
But there’s something else particularly nasty and harmful about NOM’s comments here. For adoptive kids, and adoptive parents, the issue of whether the child is your “real” child, and whether the parents are your “real” parents, is a serious and hurtful one. First, we hear from someone who was adopted:
What bothers me about people who find out I’m adopted is that they always have the most typical response, “Do you want to find your real mom?” Are you serious!?
My real mom is an accomplished author and teacher. That’s my mom. There’s no such thing as a REAL mom and a fake mom. Sure, there’s my birthmom, but I don’t ever care or think about her. She did a very selfless thing to give me up, so why would I want to bug her? That’s incredibly selfish of me. My dad, he’s British and is an Architect and is one of the nicest people ever and is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met. Those are my REAL parents. So when you ask me if I want to find my REAL parents, I’ll simply tell you they live in Michigan.
“Second best” hits like a fist
Adopted children may feel particularly or overly sensitive about the fact that they do not resemble other family members and believe “that their parents have settled for second best,” says Dr. Schechter [Dr. Marshall Schechter, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine and a nationally recognized expert on adoption] . “No amount of reassuring can diminish what adopted persons perceive as a stunning difference (between themselves and other family members). They may develop fantasies, both positive and negative, about their birth family, and it often hampers their ability to move on with their lives.”
And guess who helse adopted a child? Clarence Thomas
Not that there’s a chance in hell he’ll ever side with us on anything, but Clarence Thomas also has an adopted child:
The two justices who have adopted children are considered likely votes against gay marriage. Chief Justice John Roberts is the father of two children, Jack and Josie, both 12. They were adopted four months apart as babies in 2000, after Roberts and his wife, Jane, then 45, spent several years trying to adopt. The Roberts family discussed the adoption for a biography of the chief justice that was aimed at young readers and published in 2006.
Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Virginia, took custody of Thomas’s grandnephew, Mark, when he was 6, in 1998. Soon after they were married in 1987, the Thomases decided they would not have children of their own, author Ken Foskett wrote in his biography, “Judging Thomas.” Mark’s father had been in and out of legal trouble and his mother was raising three other children on her own. Thomas also has a biological child from his first marriage, which ended in divorce.
Now you get the gist of the subtle contempt that comes through many anti-gay activists when considering the merits of adopted children. Whether it’s Pope Francis or Catholic Charities, who think kids are better off with no family at all than with parents who are gay, or whether it’s NOM, that feels even heterosexual adoptions are only “second best,” the bigots really do have a hard time hiding their true selves.
(H/t to my friend Scott Wooledge for spotting this.)