Written by Fr.Richard Nazzareno Farrugia

Child's Best Interest - A Call to Reflection

During this second week of the electoral campaign the question of adoption by homosexual couples came in the forefront as the two main political parties' leaders, Joseph Muscat (PL) first and then Laurence Gonzi (PN) concurred that the best interest of the child should be sought when it comes to entrusting them in the care of a couple irrespective if it's a heterosexual or a homosexual one.

Well, there's no problem to agree with both leaders that in the case of adoptions the criterion must always be the child's best interest. However, to pursue the child's best interest we need to listen to the child himself. Are we truly considering the child, or because he's still incapable to determine what is his best interest, then we interpret it according to our own interests be they political, social or personal?

It's worrying that nobody asked for a time of reflection on such a delicate issue, in an European context where adoption by gay couples is creating heated debates and numerous public manifestations – as for example in opposition to France's president Hollande's Mariage pour tous proposal. It is not the interest of the homosexual couples that should be sought but the child's best interest. So why not commission a study by the Children's Commissioner? This study has to reflect on many scientific studies that do show that there is a difference between children brought up by homosexual adoptive parents and others that are brought up by heterosexual ones. A short bibliographical note at the end of this reflection can provide much food for thought.

During these days we see children having fun with their parents during the various political activities organized by both parties. To a certain point, there is nothing wrong with that. However, we do hope that our children don't end up being used to seek political advantage. With all due respect, political leaders are just human beings and not some semi-gods who know everything on anything. Will they listen to the smallest and most fragile of all citizens: Maltese children who are seeking an adoptive family or will they interpret arbitrarily their "best interest" for the interest of others in the name of a policy of non-discrimination that is in itself a cause of new discriminations?

On the issue of adoptions by homosexual couples we need to take time to listen, reflect and debate – something that cannot be done during an electoral campaign. This is a necessary prerogative to do the child's best interest! May the power of reason prevail over political opportunism.

Bibliographical note:

1) A study conducted by Mark Regnerus, associate Professor of Texas University in Austin, on a sample of nearly 3,000 American youth between 18 to 39 years-old who have been brought up in eight different family structures, shows that there is a difference between children brought up by heterosexual couples and those brought up by homosexual couples and children of the latter tend to have more psychological problems than those of the former.

M. Regnerus, How different are adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structure Study. Social Science Research 2012; 41: 752-770 (on-line version: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X12000610). P.R. Amato, The well-being of children with gay and lesbian parents. Social Science Research 2012; 41: 771-774. C. Osborne, Further comments on the papers by Marks and Regnerus. Social Science Research 2012; 41: 779-783. For a review of the Study read: M.P. Lucentini, È indifferente per un bambino crescere in una coppia omosessuale, invece che eterosessuale?. Medicina e Morale 2012; 5: 850-853.

A position paper by the American College of Pediatricians with ample reference to numerous studies, favor that children are brought up by heterosexual couples.

American College of Pediatricians, Homosexual Parenting: Is it time for change? (March 2012): http://www.acpeds.org/homosexual-parenting-is-it-time-for-change.html.

France's Chief Rabbi has provided French society (and to all those who hold dear to reason things out) a long letter where he explains why homosexual unions should not be put at par with heterosexual marriage and by putting in the first place the best interest of the child, he also explains why homosexual couples should not be given the right to have children or adopt. For our argument, read pages 9-13.

Gilles Bernheim, Mariage homosexuel, homoparentalité et adoption: ce que l'on oublie souvent de dire. Essai: http://www.grandrabbindefrance.com/mariage-homosexuel-homoparentalit%C3%A9-et-adoption-ce-que-l%E2%80%99-oublie-souvent-de-dire-essai-de-gilles-bern.