The NSW Legislative Council is currently conducting an inquiry into same-sex couples being able to adopt children.
I made a submission to the inquiry, and below is a draft of its substance:
It is clear that the objectives of the Adoption Act are focussed on the needs of children, and this must be the focus of the Inquiry. In effect, it could be considered that there is a relatively simple question for this Inquiry to examine:
Would it be better for children if they were able to be adopted by same-sex couples than if they were not able to be adopted by same-sex couples?
If the Inquiry determines that the answer to this question is yes, then it follows that the relevant legislation should be amended to allow children to be adopted by same-sex couples.
I contend that the answer to this question is yes. Currently, children are precluded from being adopted by same-sex couples. This preclusion limits the population of potentially adopting couples. Provided that there is an appropriate process by which couples are assessed on their ability to adopt a child, there is no need for any segment of the population to be excluded from the adoption process outside of that process.
Legislatively preventing the adoption of children by any segment of the population of couples is detrimental to the welfare of children. This is because any such preclusion prevents a child from being adopted by a couple regardless of that couple’s ability to fulfil the responsibilities associated with adopting a child.
The capability of any couple to fulfil the responsibilities associated with adopting a child can only be assessed with reference to the appropriate aspects of the particular couple themselves, rather than with reference to any supposed quality of the couple resulting from whether the genders of the partners in the couple are the same or not. I see no reason for the sameness or not of the genders of the individuals in a couple playing any role in whether a couple is capable of fulfilling the responsibilities of adoption.
I understand that children are potentially able to be adopted by same-sex couples in the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia, and in a number of international jurisdictions including the UK, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Norway and some states in the United States of America. The experience of these jurisdictions may inform the Inquiry’s considerations.