To the honorable members of the Albania Parliament,
Them Before Us defends children’s rights in matters of marriage and family. We are writing at the request of the Albanian Family Coalition concerning proposed changes to your family code granting single and cohabiting adults the “right” to adopt a child. Please allow us to explain why these changes threaten the rights and well-being of children.
First, it’s important to understand who adoption is for.
- Adoption is not for adults. Adoption is not a way for adults who cannot have a child to get one. Adults do not have a right to adopt– not even loving, infertile, married couples. No adult has a right to an unrelated child.
- Adoption is for children. Children who have lost their parents have a right to be adopted. Their needs are the priority, not the desires of adults- no matter how strong.
So what do children need, especially children who have suffered the trauma of losing their first family? Children have three primary social/emotional needs- mother’s love, father’s love and stability. Placing children with single or cohabiting adopters deprives children of their needs.
Mothers & Fathers
Men and women are gloriously different, and those differences are most beneficial in their interactions with children.
- Mothers and Fathers Engage Differently- Fathers tend to play with, and mothers tend to care for, children. Fathers encourage gross motor development- running, jumping, wrestling. Mothers encourage fine motor development- drawing, chopping, cutting.
- Fathers Push Limits; Mothers Encourage Security- On their own either approach could be unhealthy- encouraging imprudent risk or failing to build confidence and progress. Together, they find balance; children remain safe while expanding their confidence.
- Mothers and Fathers Communicate Differently- Father’s talk tends to be more brief, direct, and to the point. Dads make greater use of subtle body language. Mothers tend to be more descriptive, personal and verbally encouraging.
- Fathers Provide a Look at the World of Men; Mothers, the World of Women- When children have both mother and father, it gives them a parent who exemplifies who they’ll be when they grow up, and a parent who familiarizes them with the opposite sex.
Male and female parents not only maximize child development, children also crave maternal and paternal love when it’s missing; even if they are well-loved by a single mother or father.
“My dad was now a single father of 2 girls. He loved being a dad and adored us…and we adored him. We definitely felt love like any child should feel. However, something still felt missing…. All I wanted growing up was my mommy to love me and be there for me. I wanted to call her and tell her about my day and ask [for] advice…” – Rhianna
“I’ll never fully heal from having an absent father and being raised by a single mother. I constantly felt unloved, unworthy and abandoned. I craved a father figure and protection. This led to me seeking out unhealthy and abusive relationships with men. I am a human being not an object, even as a baby I had rights to a loving and caring family. I am deeply disturbed about the growing trend of single mothers by choice and I feel for the children who will be brought up in these households.” – Maggie
Single women can be wonderful mothers. But they cannot be a father. Single men can be wonderful fathers, but they can’t be a mother. Children need, deserve, and crave both. Giving single people the “right” to adopt denies children their right to a mother or father.
Marriage = Stability
For adults, marriage may seem like just a piece of paper. But for children, marriage alone provides stability and is thus one of the greatest dividing lines between thriving and suffering. Whereas it’s not unusual for marriages to last a lifetime, cohabiting relationships last an average of 18 months. Children whose parents cohabit experience high rates of instability and experience diminished outcomes. Children living with their cohabiting parents are:
- 4 times more likely to demonstrate behavioral issues
- 3 times more likely to be neglected
- 4 times more likely to be abused
- 4 times as likely to live in poverty
If we value the well-being of children, we will prioritize married mothers and fathers in adoption.
Children have a right to safety, especially at home. Concerns about child abuse are valid and children should be protected from abusive adults, whether related or unrelated. But if we are serious about child safety, we will insist that as many children as possible be raised by their own married mother and father, where child abuse is most rare.
The risk of abuse drastically increases for children who aren’t in the care of their married mother and father- including single parent and cohabiting homes. That’s why adoption agencies are tasked with screenings and background checks for prospective parents- they understand the risk of placing children in the homes of unrelated adults.
When adoption is done right, every child will be placed in a home that meets their needs, but not every adult who wants a child will get one.
In your decision-making, please put children’s rights above adult desires.