End of Adoptions as One Agency Protests Gay Parents

For 103 years, Catholic Charities of Boston has found homes for tens of thousands of needy children, but tomorrow the adoption agency shuts its doors.

It is closing because of pressure from the Catholic Church, which opposes the Massachusetts law that protects the rights of gay couples to adopt a child.

"We find ourselves in a conflict," said the Rev. Bryan Hehir from Catholic Charities. "The religious, moral principles of Catholic teaching and practice clash with the political and civil regulations of the state."

Churches are increasingly banding together to fight gay adoptions, something George Graham and Michael Fleenor feel personally.

They have been partners for 16 years and adopted their 3-year-old son, Robbie, who was in foster care.

Now they want to adopt another child, but it might not be as easy this time, because legislators in their home state of Ohio have proposed a bill to ban adoption by gay couples.

"We really do feel under pressure," George Graham said. "We feel like there is a window that is possibly closing and once it is closed, it's closed."

States Debate Issues as Children Need Homes

In addition to religious activism on this issue, a groundswell of grassroots activity to ban gay couples from adopting children has led to proposed legislation across the country.

Last year, bills banning adoptions by gay couples were introduced in Alabama, Indiana, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. All those bills were killed in committee, but some legislators say they're not giving up.

"It's my job as a state legislator to make sure that these children have the best environment and the best household they are able to be placed in, and that is a traditional household with a mom and a dad," said Rep. Paul Stanley, R-Tenn.

But the American Academy of Pediatrics said that a growing body of scientific literature shows that children who grow up with one or two gay and or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual.

The academy has found that children's development seems to be influenced more by the nature of the relationships and interactions within the family unit than by the particular structural form it takes.

The AAP is expected to take a closer look at the legal and financial challenges for the children of same-gender parents in a special article in the journal Pediatrics, due out next week.

There are nearly 126,000 children in foster care who are eligible for adoption each year. Less than half find permanent homes.

"To say, 'Oh, because you're gay you can't or you shouldn't be able to raise a child,' that is horrible," said Karen Brown, a mother who gave her daughter up for adoption.

She added, "If they have the love to give, let them!"

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