Waldlaw Blog

Monday, January 09, 2006

Speaking of States Moving to Ban Gay Adoptions....

AN ARTICLE JUST PASSED ON TO ME BY SHANNON MINTER, LEGAL DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR LESBIAN RIGHTS: Move to ban gay adoptions will hurt children Deb Price / January 9, 2006 F riends admiringly call the home of Jill and Renn McClintic-Doyle "The Land of Broken Toys." There, physically or emotionally broken children are taken in, cared for, and loved just as they are, regardless of whether they can be mended. In that very special place in Stone Mountain, Ga., no child is ever "unwanted." During the past 15 years, the women, a couple for a quarter-century, have become foster moms or adoptive moms for more than a half-dozen kids, several of them babies. Each of the abandoned children was, as foster-care lingo would put it, "hard to place" because of HIV infection, mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy, blindness, race or other characteristics that scare away many would-be foster parents. Take Christopher, for example, an 11-year-old African-American boy with severe autism. He can't dress himself or speak. "The woman who had him before was well-meaning but treated him like a potted plant," says Jill, who jointly adopted him with Renn after an earlier adoptive parent fled. "We try to get him to do things as he can. He's the greatest kid." Or take Jonathan, born weighing just two pounds. He was so sickly that the couple couldn't bring him home. They mothered him in the neonatal care ward until his death, six days before his first birthday. "When Renn would walk in, there was such a difference in Jonathan. He never had his own crib or his own home, but he had his own mother," recalls Jill, a cheerleader for motherhood whose five biological children are now adults. "Renn and I had both worked in hospitals and seen adults die alone," Jill explains of the pull they felt toward fragile children. "The idea that a child would die alone, without ever having felt loved, I can't imagine anything worse. We didn't value these children based on the length of their lives." Repeatedly, child welfare workers turned to the couple for help. Antonio, Mickey, Halimah, Jonathan, Mary, Laurie, Bree, and Christopher wouldn't have had a chance to be mothered by the big-hearted couple if Georgia restricted gay parenting. But a state constitutional ban on gay foster parents, adoptive parents, or both could fly through the Georgia Legislature and go to the voters this year. Even though a half-million children lack permanent, loving homes, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee also appear headed toward similar votes. "First it was marriage, and now it's adoption," notes Carrie Evans of the gay Human Rights Campaign. "This doesn't have to do with the well-being of children any more than marriage amendments have to do with protecting marriage. It's about how far the right wing can go to enshrine anti-gay prejudice into state constitutions and use them to increase turnout of anti-gay voters." Ballots in at least four states -- perhaps 13 -- will be marred this year by anti-gay marriage initiatives. Alaskans will likely be asked to ban partner benefits for gay public employees. And voters in Dearborn Heights could be asked to repeal a nondiscrimination law. "We could have roughly half of the country's population voting on us in one year," says Dave Fleischer of the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force. Saying she'd "walk across coals" for her children, Jill McClintic-Doyle calls the anti-parenting proposals "a tragic thing to do to these kids." She adds, "They are kids who deserve to be loved and deserve a home. Why deny a child that?" The youngest victims of anti-gay prejudice will never know what hurt them. You can reach Deb Price at (202) 662-8736 or dprice@detnews.com.


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