Argument: Gay adoption is better than foster care for children
Julian Sanchez. "All Happy Families. The looming battle over gay parenting." Reason Online. August/September 2005 - Wayne LaRue Smith had never been so happy to be called bitch.
About two months earlier, Smith and his partner, Dan Skahen, had taken in a 3-year-old foster child we'll call Charlie. The boy had emerged from the caseworker's car redolent of stale cigarette smoke, hair matted and tangled, barely able to walk, and, except for the occasional raspy cry, stone silent. "We think," whispered the caseworker, leaning in, "he's retarded."
Week after week, Smith recalls, Charlie refused to say anything. Then one day, as Smith was trying to prevent the boy from climbing around on the furniture, Charlie uttered the first word Smith had heard escape his lips: "Bitch!" Nonplussed at the vocabulary ("He didn't learn that language from us!" Smith says), Smith was nevertheless delighted that the child had said something. His silence broken, Charlie pressed his tiny fists to his hips and added "Asshole!" before scampering away. Within weeks he was speaking in complete--and more polite--sentences.
Charlie wasn't retarded. He had simply withdrawn from a world that until then hadn't given him much reason to be engaged with it. That sort of history, sadly, is shared by many of the children who find their way into the nation's foster care systems, which included half a million kids when the Department of Health and Human Services last counted, with some 126,000 available for adoption. At the end of fiscal year 2003, 30,000 of those children were in Florida, more than in any other state except New York and California, with more than 5,000 available for adoption.
Charlie lucked out with Skahen and Smith. As of last April, Florida could not even account for the whereabouts of more than 500 children nominally in its custody. Every few years, the state's papers dutifully report an especially tragic case of a child rescued from a bad home only to be deposited by the state into some fresh hell. One such child is Yusimil Herrera, who after being moved dozens of times from one foster home to another, homes in which she was beaten and sexually abused, won a famous lawsuit against the state in 1999. (The verdict was later overturned, and Herrera settled her claim.) She now stands accused of murdering her own young daughter.