Copyright (c) 2004 University of Florida Journal of Law & Public Policy
University of Florida Journal of Law & Public Policy
RE-FRAMING THE DEBATE: SYMPOSIUM ARTICLE: ADOPTIVE FAMILIES HEADED BY GAY OR LESBIAN PARENTS: A THREAT . . . OR HIDDEN RESOURCE?
15 U. Fla. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 443
Scott D. Ryan* and Scottye Cash**
Adoption is the social and legal process whereby a permanent parent-child relationship is established between persons not typically related by birth as a result of the inability or unwillingness of the birth parents to care for the child. 1 Since the first enactment of adoption laws in the United States, practice has evolved to meet the changing demands of both the children waiting for adoption and the potential adoptive families. Until the 1960s, adoptions were predominantly engaged in by infertile, Caucasian couples wishing to anonymously and confidentially assume parental responsibilities for healthy infants. 2 However, by the 1970s and 1980s, these adoption types were no longer the norm because the proportion of racial/ethnic minority children and children possessing significant emotional, physical, or mental impairments had grown dramatically. 3 By 1994, approximately 50,000 children with special needs were available for adoption in the United States, with estimates for the future growing to more than 85,000 children. 4 Since then, the Child Welfare League of America has increased the estimate to more than 130,000 children - exceeding their own dire predictions. 5 Currently, there are tens of thousands more children available for adoption than there are families who are willing to adopt. 6
Family constellations are changing, and adoption experts have been asking for a more flexibile interpretation of the word "family." 7 However, given the symbolism in which the word "family" is embedded, it is not surprising that such a request has encountered heavy resistance.
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