In Article I we discussed the reluctance or avoidance on the part of older pediatricians to deal with gay families, but that now “the vast majority of younger pediatricians are very open to a wide array of . . . different family structures in Toronto.” Even some clergy members in the city are indirectly blessing gay-headed families by baptizing their children.
“I make no distinction if it’s a child of a lesbian couple or a child of single parents,” said the Rev. Susan Hasting, the rector of a local Toronto Episcopal Church, who recently baptized a child adopted from Russia by a lesbian couple. “I see no distinction.”
In addition to the increased availability of donor banks and surrogate mothers, the rise in gay-headed families in Toronto has been aided by a greater willingness among adoption agencies to accept gay men and lesbians as parents.
“There has been a tremendous growth in the visibility of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples as adoptive parents,” said Mike Rice, a city social service professional in Toronto. “It’s part of the general move in the city’s culture toward an acceptance of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people.”
Such families have also been strengthened by a growing number of judges willing to approve “second-parent” adoptions for gay couples in Ontario. Long common in heterosexual marriages, these adoptions are now giving full parental rights to non-biological gay parents, or gay stepparents — rights that are crucial should a gay biological parent die. Such adoptions are now commonplace for gay couples throughout most of Canada.
Support groups also are flourishing. In the Toronto area, gay family support groups now allows children of gay parents to meet other children with same-sex parents at monthly picnics, skating classes or other gatherings.
At the same time, however, gay activists report a growing number of bitter custody battles among gay couples who have split. Since all provinces in Canada recognize same-sex marriages, estranged gay couples are now starting to use the straight legal framework of divorce laws and family courts to resolve such disputes. Without a “second-parent” adoption, the non-biological parent has little leverage.
Gay parenting remains socially unacceptable in most rural areas of the country. The conservative political organizations in Toronto and all across the country still openly urge homosexuals to change their orientation, and continues to oppose the idea of gay men and lesbians having children at all.