Same-Sex Adoption: Best for the Child?

Marriage-Alliance-Australia-Same-Sex-Adoption.pngSame-sex couples could soon be allowed to adopt children in South Australia, following a conscience vote in the state’s lower house. N­ew legislative reforms were put forward in an attempt to make adoption laws “more inclusive”, the ABC reports

The proposed changes to adoption laws include allowing same-sex couples to apply for adoption, provided they have been together for five years.

SA Child Development Minister Susan Close proposed the new Adoption Act, pushing criteria for parenting that is not supported by the government’s own advisors. Ms Close said:

“The main criteria for being a successful parent is really wanting to have a child and wanting to do the best for that child and anything else is really a secondary consideration,” she said. [Emphasis added.]

But in an independent review of the South Australian legislation commissioned by the Government, reviewer Dr Lorna Hallahan said: 

Adoption does not exist primarily for family formation, so the selection of adoptive parents cannot be based on the desire of some people to have children. It must be based on a profound understanding of the rights, needs, best interests and welfare of the child or children.  [Emphasis added.]

What Ms Close describes as the “main criteria” for being a successful parent – a person “really wanting to have a child” – is named by Dr Hallahan as a factor which must not be taken into consideration.  Instead, the rights, needs, best interests and welfare of the child should be paramount.

South Australian independent MP Martin Hamilton-Smith had the best interests of the child front-of-mind when he voted against the bill, acknowledging that a traditional mother-father relationship is the best environment for adoption.

“Children have a right to know who their mother and father is and the best environment for them to grow up in,” he said.

“I have no doubt a single parent or a same-sex couple where [sic] they to be parents could provide a very loving and nurturing environment for the children, and I'm sure that's occurring in many instances around the country.

“But to me that's not the issue — I think the issue is whether adopted children have the right to have a mother and a father. I think that is the best environment for a child to grow up in.”

Dan Flynn of the Australian Christian Lobby pointed out that there are already many couples waiting to adopt children, and that there was no need to expand this to include same-sex couples.

“In 2013-14, South Australia only had 15 adoptions and a long waiting list of men and women couples so there is no reason for the law to change to abolish the requirement for there to be gender diversity in the parenting of orphans,” Mr Flynn said.

What do you think? Is same-sex adoption in the best interests of children in South Australia? 

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