A kid's right to a mommy and a daddy

Do children have a right to have both a mother and a father?

Considering all the rights that have been discovered or created—human, civil, natural and so forth—an inquiry into whether children have this right is proper, if not required.

The United Nation’s Declaration of The Rights of the Child proclaims ten children’s rights, among them “special protections.” Those enable a child to “develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner…. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.”

Who can argue with that? But does it apply to a child’s right to a mother and a father? The resounding answer from comes gay advocates and their allies in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services: No.

How so? DCFS is snuffing out adoption and foster care services provided by Catholic Charities because it doesn’t send needy children to live with families that don’t have both a mommy and daddy. Catholic Charities believes that this is in the best interest of the child—a belief not without reason or empirical evidence.

DCFS says no adoption agency in the state can have such a policy, in effect, denying that children have any right to both a mommy and a daddy. It’s an unusual position to see this as an issue of the rights of children. But Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops raised it a few weeks ago in a letter to President Barack Obama.

Dolan complimented Obama for his belief that neither the mother nor father is expendable in child raising, citing his mother’s and father’s day proclamations. “I believe therefore that you would agree that every child has the right to be loved by both a mother and a father.” [My emphasis.]

The letter was prompted by a Justice Department decision not to defend a law of the land—the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines for certain purposes marriages as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife. Dolan noted that the administration’s animus does stop there: “Now the Justice Department has shifted from not defending DOMA—which is problem enough, given the duty of the executive branch to enforce even laws it disfavors—to actively attacking DOMA’s constitutionality.”

Dolan noted the administration’s other attacks on Catholic beliefs, mentioning the administration’s support of the intent of the  ironically named Every Child Deserves a Family Act (H.R. 1681). It would punish adoption and foster care agencies that refuse to participate in same-sex adoptions or foster care by denying access to federal funding and create a federal cause of action for damages.

DCFS goes even further. Under its interpretation of the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (also ironically named) it did more than deny funding for Catholic Charities; it effectively put the agency out of the adoption business. (The Thomas More Society is challenging the decision in court.)

For 40 years, Catholic Charities has been handling about 20 percent of the state’s adoptions and foster care placements. DCFS’ summary judgment isn’t just poor public policy, but also arguably violates constitutional and legal protections against state interference in the practice of religion. In effect, the state is discriminating against the agency’s religious beliefs about marriage and parenting.

So, what exactly is the state’s compelling interest in shutting down Catholic Charities’ services? The agency’s policies do not deny gay couples or singles access to adoption services. They still can arrange adoptions through other agencies, to which they are referred by Catholic Charities.

This is a matter of weighing a child’s right to have a mother and a father against a gay couple’s right to adopt children. Is it more important that gays have access to every adoption service in the state, or is it more important that at least in one corner of the state, some children have a recognized right to a father and a mother? What greater good is achieved by booting Catholic Charities out of the adoption business?

Allowing a mix of adoption approaches would be the moderate, reasonable and, for the children, a fair solution. Too bad that rigid ideology does not allow the question to be coined as a balance of rights.


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  • This gets down to that you wrote 723 words, when your only point was the repetitive one that you are aggrieved that Catholic Charities won't get its state contract renewed. About the fifth time this month you have done as much.

    While one can assume that a mommy and daddy are better, there is too much illegitimacy, divorce, and daddies not paying child support to make a serious argument about the norm today. I know that the Catholic Church has taken ineffective stands against those too, but until it also says that pedophilia (i.e. gay priests committing acts of indecent assault or child pornography) should be stamped out, it certainly doesn't have much moral influence on the gay marriage or adoption issue.

  • Agreed, Jack.

    Here again, as Jack states, it is ASSUMED that a Mommy and Daddy are better, according to "reason or empirical evidence." Well, "reason" is subjective to an extent from person to person, and varies greatly based on point of view, so not exactly a reliable rationale in the argument. And as I argue in my post on a different article of yours, "empirical evidence"? Nothing is empirical on this issue. If there is one thing that the constant battle of studies, perspectives, statistics and counterpoints HAS proven, it is that nothing is empirical on this issue!

  • Children have NEEDS. The only argument worth considering is what's in the best interest of the children. What will meet their needs : love, security, predictability, stability, encouragement, affirmation of worth, environment for growth, a sense of 'place', trust, hopefulness. . .and, of course, within that context their physical needs which, btw, do not include a surfeit of material 'stuff'.
    In a perfect world, these would be deemed children's rights.
    It is absurd to maintain the myth that children require the mommy/daddy/nuclear family scenario to thrive. The mores and social constructs of one social institution e.g. the RCC are not essential to a child's well-being.

  • In reply to jkatze:

    I agree that the best interest of the child is the controlling factor.

    Thus, I can distinguish this from the earlier post on the lesbian parents wanting to shut down the child's hormones. That would be child abuse, and an ethical doctor should report it.

    On the other hand, I doubt that it is in the child's best interest to be left in the modern equivalent of orphanage limbo (a ward of DCFS with no parents) as opposed to being adopted by two mommies, unless the mommies are as messed up as the ones mentioned in the prior post.

  • In reply to jack:

    Wow jack, we disagree on a lot of things - but on this I back you up 200%.

    Way to go.....

  • You raise an interesting point and I agree with you that children need to be protected. But I wish you would address the real issues instead of just taking the easy route of blaming everything on the gays.

    1) I think you blurred the issue a little too much. The state decided to stop giving tax payer dollars to Catholic Charities. It did not dictate that CC needed to stop providing adoption services. In fact, the Peoria Diocese transferred its workers and caseload to a newly formed non-profit, The Center for Youth and Family Solutions, which will provide all the state funded services Catholic Charities did, so the children are not left behind.

    2) If children all have the right to a mother and father, then there is a bigger problem to worry about. What do we do with all the children who lose a parent serving in the military, or in a car accident, illness, etc. and end up with only a single parent, and not both the mother and father they have a right to? Do we pull them away from their surviving parent and place them with a new mommy/daddy pair until their biological parent gets re-married? What about divorce, or children born out of wedlock? What laws should be passed to prevent those situations from occurring?

    3) If kids have a recognized right to having a mother and father, then how do they end up in foster care or being put up for adoption in the first place? Oh yeah, irresponsible and reckless straight men and women producing children they don't want or can't take care of......... That's more of a problem than worrying about a handful of gay couples who are willing to give an unwanted child a home and the love their biological parents won't.

  • Catholic Charities was not "forced out" of the adoption business. Their own narrow-mindedness prompted the agency to, in effect, take their football and go straight home, in a huff.

    There is no evidence that same-sex couples raise poorly adjusted children. In fact, there is empirical evidence to the contrary. Not only that, but the children of same-sex couples tend to become heterosexual, in about the same ratios as the children of male-female couples.

    Is it better to leave an orphaned kid in the orphanage, to rot away for years, or to let him/her live with a loving gay or lesbian couple? I'd vote for the latter.

    And by the way ... The earth is roughly globular, not flat. I am not an atheist, but we -- as a people -- need to grow up, think for ourselves, and stop granting religious leaders so much power and influence over our lives. They've caused enough damage -- measurable damage -- already.

  • For one, let's stop pretending the radical gay Nazis actually care about these children in need. They would much rather see the kids denied an adoption, trapped in some horrible state-funded facility, then have their so-called "gay rights" be infringed upon. These deviants only care about forwarding their own perverse agenda.

  • wow.

  • The only thing I have a hard grasp on defining without trampling on one's on civil rights is a word you used in the second paragraph, 77th word. "Normal". Once you throw that word out there MOST people will dismiss the argument as a "Rightist" belief. If we can truly define a "normal" manner without actually jeopardizing those vague "civil liberties" can we ever really resolute the divide in opposition on gay marriage.

    Normal tends to identify with Christian. And church tends to always creep into state. As long as this is the story you will always have a blog and there will always be a need for amendment.

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