Tuesday, September 28, 2004

One little girl, her two dads, and whether that’s such a bad thing 

by Grimshizzle
[Cross-posted at OT]

The topic of Same-Sex Marriage has bounced around the bloggernacle so much it has taken on a universally-recognized acronym. The topic of gay adoption has received much less attention, and, as far as I know, has elicited little (or no?) specific ecclesiastical counsel (unless one counts Sheri Dew’s controversial speech, which was delivered after her tenure in the Relief Society General Presidency – and which, incidentally, was recently removed from the Meridian website.) I don’t have any eloquent doctrinal arguments or child-welfare statistics to posit, but I do have a story to share, one that I think speaks for itself.

Two little girls, whom I will call Tuyen and Xuan, were both taken into an orphanage in Vietnam shortly after birth. The staff cared for them as best they could, given their limited resources, hygiene was substandard and the babies often slept side-by-side, several to a crib. Around the time of the girls’ first birthday an adoption agency brought a group of several prospective parents to the orphanage. It was a diverse bunch: a single, middle-aged woman, first-time adopters, couples wishing to expand their families. Also included in the group were a devout young Mormon couple (whom I know personally, and who allowed me to post this) and a gay couple. Tuyen went with the Mormon couple, and was later sealed to them in the D.C. temple; Xuan left the orphanage with her two new dads.

Before heading back to the states, however, it took the parents a couple of weeks to submit the health and governmental forms and receive all the bureaucratic approvals required to complete the adoption, so while they waited for forms to be processed the adoptive parents and their new children did lots of sightseeing. Tuyen’s mom and Xuan’s dads turned out to be naturally inclined towards group organization, and took charge of the sightseeing itinerary and shopping trips (it’s a terrible stereotype, I know, the shopaholic woman and the gay guys telling each other how fabulous their purchases are, etc., but that’s how it happened). The Mormons and the gay men became fast friends during the trip, and the friendship continued after they returned to their respective homes. Even though they live several hours apart, the two families still visit each other on occasion to celebrate their girls’ birthdays, their adoption anniversary, and American and Vietnamese holidays.

While I find that friendship in and of itself quite heartwarming (and believe me, I get a lot of mileage out of it when friends or associates categorically accuse Mormons of homophobia), other circumstances lend this story even more poignancy. Shortly after Xuan and Tuyen left Vietnam for America with their new parents, the U.S. government discontinued allowing adoptions from Vietnam. This prohibition remains in place today, largely because of bureaucratic inertia on both sides, and there are no signs of progress. This has created a grave situation for orphanages in Vietnam, as their meager operating budgets relied on adoption fees; the orphanage where Xuan and Tuyen lived has fallen into disrepair and is in desperate need of financial aid. More somber still is the future that the little girls in the orphanage face today if the adoption ban continues as they become children and eventually adolescents; if you follow the news, you probably have an idea of the bleak prospects for an orphaned teenaged girl in Vietnam. I shudder to think, but these are the questions that this situation begs: what if the gay couple hadn’t gone to Vietnam and adopted? What if Tuyen had gone home with the Mormon couple but her friend Xuan had been left behind in the orphanage as the adoption ban had taken effect, and had stayed there as she approached adolescence? Regardless of what you might think about gay adoption as a political issue –and I’m talking about an actual situation and an actual person, so it’s not really a political issue anyway–are there any grounds on which to argue that this happy, healthy little girl would have been better off if her dads hadn’t been able to adopt her?

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