The Telegraph is not sure whether to be more outraged about the anti-grandparent angle in this story (child removed from grandparents of 59 & 46 said to be ruled out becauuse they are too old) or about the the fact that the children are to be placed with a homosexual couple. The Telegraph quotes an unnamed spokesman for the Catholic Church who refers to a growing body of evidence showing that same sex relationships are inherently unstable and reduce the life expectancy of those involved. Strangely no specifics about this growing body of evidence. Really? Same sex relationships less stable than marriage?
I have had cause in the past to research this issue thoroughly and do not recall any such research holding up to scrutiny.
The Christian Right & Homophobic Discourse: A Response to Evidence that Gay & Lesbian Parenting Damages Children by Stephen Hicks is an interesting and well researched piece that debunks this sort of myth. Stephen Hicks is a Senior Lecturer at Salford University and something of an expert on the topic, should you need one and has written a number of other thoroughly compelling articles and a book or two on the subject.
I have somewhat more sympathy with the grandparents' own expressed concern that the children may suffer from not having a 'mother' figure (I do think that lay people could be afforded some time to catch up with the thinking behind with what is still a relatively uncommon placement proposition (for which, as one expert extremely sympathetic to the possibility, has pointed out we do not even as a society yet have the words to cover the parenting roles)) and their feeling that if they did not embrace the placement with enthusiasm the local authority would not support them having contact. The idea of adoption at all has always seemed to me to be a very difficult pill for family members to swallow with very little work seeming to be done to help them to adjust to the idea of it let alone the reality. Is it really necessary for the family to say the words - I think the children are better off adopted by X than looked after by me - before contact can be supported? Is it not more important to examine whether the family are capable of putting their private feelings on the matter to one side so that the children are not affected by it? There are clearly some cases where the natural family's attitude and behaviour makes it clear that ongoing contact is not a risk worth taking. I just wonder whether in other more subtle scenarios enough is done to explore the viability of greater openness in adoption situations, particularly with children who have a well established relationship with carers that will remain a live memory. It is my understanding the research on the benefits of post-adoption contact is not conclusive in either direction, no doubt because of the huge number of variables which need to be analysed, but does this have to mean we should take the line of least resistance? I am more than usually aware that I am treading on an area of expertise outside my own and would be grateful for pointers towards any useful materials.
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