On September 4, 2021, social media was abuzz with a photo of two men sitting side by side and smiling at each other as each cradled an infant in his arms. It was Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten, holding their recently adopted newborn twins. The fact that the picture was widely and wildly applauded could not change the fact that something essential was missing, just as in Hans Christian Andersen’s famous tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” As summarized by Wikipedia,
Two swindlers arrive at the capital city of an emperor who spends lavishly on clothing at the expense of state matters. Posing as weavers, they offer to supply him with magnificent clothes that are invisible to those who are stupid or incompetent. The emperor hires them, and they set up looms and go to work. A succession of officials, and then the emperor himself, visit them to check their progress. Each sees that the looms are empty but pretends otherwise to avoid being thought a fool. Finally, the weavers report that the emperor’s suit is finished. They mime dressing him and he sets off in a procession before the whole city. The townsfolk uncomfortably go along with the pretense, not wanting to appear inept or stupid, until a child blurts out that the emperor is wearing nothing at all. The people then realize that everyone has been fooled. Although startled, the emperor continues the procession, walking more proudly than ever.
For those beguiled by a picture of two men smiling at each other while depriving two helpless infants of a mother, the voice of Katy Faust is like the voice of the child in the Andersen fairy tale. Deprived of a father during years of her upbringing by two lesbian “mothers,” Katy reflected on her experience in an open letter to Chief Justice Kennedy as the Supreme Court was deliberating in the Obergefell case.
It’s very difficult to speak about this subject, because I love my mom. Most of us children with gay parents do. We also love their partner(s). You don’t hear much from us because, as far as the media are concerned, it’s impossible that we could both love our gay parent(s) and oppose gay marriage. Many are of the opinion I should not exist. But I do, and I’m not the only one…. This debate, at its core, is about one thing. It’s about children….
When two adults who cannot procreate want to raise children together, where do those babies come from? Each child is conceived by a mother and a father to whom that child has a natural right. When a child is placed in a same-sex-headed household, she will miss out on at least one critical parental relationship and a vital dual-gender influence. The nature of the adults’ union guarantees this. Whether by adoption, divorce, or third-party reproduction, the adults in this scenario satisfy their heart’s desires, while the child bears the most significant cost: missing out on one or more of her biological parents….
Now that I am a parent, I see clearly the beautiful differences my husband and I bring to our family. I see the wholeness and health that my children receive because they have both of their parents living with and loving them. I see how important the role of their father is and how irreplaceable I am as their mother. We play complementary roles in their lives, and neither of us is disposable. In fact, we are both critical. It’s almost as if Mother Nature got this whole reproduction thing exactly right.
Katy’s conclusion echoes what United Nations declared in its 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child: “the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding,” a family being “the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children” (emphasis added).
Earlier in its 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child, the UN had similarly emphasized that “the child, for the full and harmonious development of his personality, needs love and understanding. He shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents.”
These seminal UN documents, three decades apart, were both approved by the General Assembly on November 20—the date also designated by the UN as World Children’s Day. It is a sober reminder that, as emphasized by the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, “mankind owes to the child the best it has to give.”
But what do you call it when adults knowingly fail to do so by placing a child with same-sex parents? Our Australian colleague Dr. David van Gend calls it “stealing from a child.” In his incisive book of the same title, van Gend mentions G. K. Chesterton’s dire warning regarding the irreplaceability of both a mother and a father: “This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.”
We urge that this World Children’s Day be a time of resolution and recommitment to stop stealing from children and to give each one the best humankind has to give: the opportunity of being raised by both a mother and a father. Every child needs it—and our civilization depends on it.