The Well-Being of Children

An article in the March issue of Pediatrics entitled “Marriage and the Well-Being of Children” tacitly admits that there may be empirical evidence that “children reared by same-sex couples fare worse than children in other arrangements.” However, the authors, Jeremy Garrett and John Lentos, argue that there are no “intrinsic properties of traditional marriages that make them uniquely efficacious in promoting the well-being of children” and if there were “it might make sense to grant exclusive state sanction for traditional marriage.”

There is, however, an intrinsic property of traditional marriage which makes it better for children: marriage joins the potential biological father and mother with vows to be there for each other and for the children conceived in the marital acts, which consummate and sustain their union. Anything that separates a child from his or her biological mother and/or father is a tragedy. Tragedies happen, but same-sex couples who acquire children make tragedies.

Children conceived by artificial insemination donor (AID) for female couples or by surrogate motherhood for male couples are purposefully, premeditatedly, and permanently deprived of a relationship with one biological parent. To want to know, be known by, and loved by one’s biological parents is intrinsic to who we are as people. It matters.

Some argue that there is no difference between children conceived by AID or surrogacy for same-sex couples and those destined for male/female couples, and AID is no different than adoption. A study by Elizabeth Marquardt and associates entitled “My Daddy’s Name is Donor,” addresses these questions, comparing 485 adults conceived by AID, with 562 young adults adopted as infants, and 563 young adults raised by their biological, parents.

The study found that “as a group donor offspring are suffering more than those who were adopted: hurting more, feeling more confused, and feeling more isolated from their families…And as a group, the adoptees are suffering more than those raised by their biological parents….” The AID conceived adults were more likely to suffer depression, delinquency and substance abuse.

Marquardt pointed out that the purpose of adoption is “to find parents for children who need them. Donor conception functions as a market, the purpose of which is to create children for adults who want them.”

According to Marquardt, “Donor conceived children know that the parents raising them are also the ones who intentionally denied them a relationship with at least one of their biological parents. The pain they might feel was caused not by some distant birth parent who gave them up, but by the parent who cares for them every day.”

There is a reality television series called The Locator in which the host helps adults reconnect with biological relatives, the theme is: you can’t find peace until you find all the pieces. Episode after episode demonstrates the longing for biological connections.

Children conceived by AID feel this same need. They are speaking out about their situation and have set up websites hoping to find their fathers or half-siblings.

To call a same-sex relationship a marriage, starts a process by which the same-sex, non-biological partner is legally designated as “parent.” This is a fiction and the child knows it. All children know that they have a biological mother and a biological father. The state tells the child that his or her desire for a father or mother is illegimate, and worse that this desire is a betrayal of the people on whom he or she depends.

The child’s right to a father and mother supercedes any right of a same-sex couple to change the definition of marriage. The claim that this is a civil right based on equality makes no sense, because a same-sex relationship is not equal to marriage. It cannot result in the conception of a child who is biologically related to both partners. The deprivation is intrinsic and applies to every child conceived for a same-sex couple. It does not depend of the ability of the custodians to provide “adequate child rearing.”

The Pediatrics article may be responding to a recently published,  large, well-designed study by Mark Regnerus, entitled “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships,” which found significant problems among those raised by lesbian mothers. According to the study those with lesbian mothers were more likely than those with married, heterosexual parents, to have received welfare growing up (69%-17%), to currently be on public assistance (38%-10%), to be currently unemployed (28%-8%), to have had a sexually transmitted infection (20%-8%), to have been touched sexually as a child (23%-2%), to be forced to have sex (31%-8%), and to currently be in therapy (19%-8%).

While there have been a number of studies claiming to have found no difference between children raised by same-sex couples and those raised by their biological parents, a careful analysis of these studies by Loren Marks, entitled “Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American Psychological Associations brief on lesbian and gay parenting” found that the studies they referenced failed to met the APA’s own standard for projectable research, because of small poorly chosen samples, no comparison group, lack of long term outcome data, and statistical power.

Calling same-sex relationships marriages harms children. It says to them your need for your own biological father and mother doesn’t matter. It is to be hoped that the Supreme Court in reviewing the marriage cases coming before it puts the rights and welfare of children before the desires of adults.

Editor’s note: Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Dale O'Leary


Dale O’Leary is the author of The Gender Agenda and One Man, One Woman. Her blog can be found at

  • john

    Some excellent points here. Unfortunately (and it should be fairly obvious to us by now), the ideology of “a civil right based on equality” will trump any appeals to “science” in the public square. Perhaps that’s not altogether unwelcome, since ideologues have been claiming the benefit of “science” to justify their racist/immoral/pro-abortion/anticlerical agenda for so long it seems to many religious people that “science” is the enemy. In reality, it’s another tool in the arsenal of the real enemy, who uses science, ideology, or mass culture to attack the sound morality and sound sociology inherent in the wisdom of the Church. In other words, even if “we” succeed in demonstrating with impeccable scientific studies that children deserve and need a mother and a father (I can’t believe I have to say that…), it probably won’t matter. Those who wish to destroy the family will simply sidestep that argument toward another, fatuous or populist one, just as they do against the fairly simple “scientific” truth that a developing baby inside his or her mom is a distinct biological person. What does that matter to a pro-abort? Any intellectually honest one will say: it doesn’t. She and She Alone gets to decide when her fetus becomes a person, and much of society and the law is unwilling to challenge her. Our solution in this case is to support, defend, and demonstrate how beautiful true Catholic families can be, to speak up for children’s rights by telling the truth, and to point out how contrary versions of “family” (incl: IVF, same-sex couples adopting/surrogating, etc) are, as O’Leary says, a tragedy made. Some high-profile help by bishops/priests/religious sisters would be useful, too.

  • This is a great article. We need to make the point again and again: quite beyond the predictable harms that children deprived of either a father or a mother will suffer, they suffer the greatest harm of all, in that they are deprived of either a father or a mother! How can we not see that? Let us suppose that a man dies when his child is still in the mother’s womb, and the boy is brought up by his mother and his grandmother, or by his mother and his maiden aunt. Now, the chance that mother and grandmother will “split” is about zero — but who is so heartless as to claim that that situation will be just fine for the boy — that it is not a great sadness for him to have lost his father?

  • hombre111

    Excellent article.

  • cminca

    The Regnerus “study” has been completely obliterated. To quote it proves nothing but the authors bias.

    • Czech U. Fax

      Completely incorrect. To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, the Regnerus study has not been tried and found wanting, rather it has been found politically incorrect and left unrebutted.

    • Crisiseditor

      Your claim is nonsense. Anyone who has gone to graduate school knows full well how politically lopsided the academy is. We should be surprised if there wasn’t a political backlash against this study which dared to question the received orthodoxy of the left. Dissent is usually defended by the left–but only if the dissent confirms their presuppositions and conclusions. If you get out of line, they will try to destroy you. What happened to Regnerus was a classic case of liberal intolerance and narrow-mindedness. Anyone interested in a balanced assessment of the study should read the article published on Crisis here:

      • Phil

        the article link is dead.

        • Crisiseditor

          Sounds like I hit a nerve, Phil. Journalists can be, and often are, ideologically motivated. A great many enter the business to “change the world” rather than report the news. The bias in the media is quite plain. Just because journalists deny their bias doesn’t mean they don’t slant the news. The fact that you are oblivious to the obvious suggests to me that you are quite content with their prejudice because they confirm your own. Your comments on this site reveal quite clearly your political affinity with the left. Your reaction “says a great deal about your own blinders.” The left has ruined lives but you seem to approve since objections to their tactics are merely a “rant” rather than a statement of fact. If anything, you confirm my observation. The gay lobby tried to ruin the career of Regnerus and failed because their charges were false. But that does not seem to concern you. Why should you and others like you be immune to criticism? Why the double standard? Because the left considers itself above criticism and intellectual superior to everyone else. Sorry, the moral posturing doesn’t wash. Crisis has given you a platform. It is more than what the left would do for its critics. Show a little gratitude if you can. Crisis is an opinion magazine. It has been so since it was founded in 1982. Your powers of perceptions are profoundly deficient if you haven’t figured that out by now. Liberal opinion magazines routinely direct their ire at individuals and ideas they oppose. Anyone who claims otherwise will “be laughed out of the room.”

          • tom

            He fails to note the homosexual lobby is also driving Christian adoption agencies out of the business because they won’t subject orphans to narcissistic screwballs and base decisions on only “the best interests of the child”..

            • cminca

              Completely false. The abortion agencies closed because they were going to lose public funding if they discriminated. They are able to stay in business, self funded, if they so desire.

              • Bono95

                They don’t seem to desire that though. Abortion agencies hate losing a single cent of their ill-gotten gains. They scream like howler monkeys if any funders have the AUDACITY to cut or shrink their contributions however slightly, and very few (thankfully) are really dedicated enough to destroying innocent life to pay for it out of their pockets.

        • Objectivetruth

          The NY Times’ journalists are incredibly biased towards everything gay and therefore they attack the Church every possible chance they can.

        • John200

          Try this. If the link does not work, just go to Crisis. It was published November 15, 2012. Walter Schumm is the author. You won’t like what you see, but at least you might learn what you need to know.

    • dover_beach

      On the contrary, a recent review of the methodology of Regnerus (2012) in Social Science Research, Methodological decisions and the evaluation of possible effects of different family structures on children: The new family structures survey (NFSS), by Walter R. Schumm found:
      Like all researchers, Regnerus (2012) made a number of methodological decisions in planning and implementing his research. While other researchers might not have made exactly the same set of methodological decisions, that does not mean that his decisions were improper or notably different than those of many other scholars. Other scholars, including well-known progressive scholars, have defined same-sex families using parents who had previously been in mixed orientation relationships or marriages. The NFSS data set is one of the few that can specify exactly how the family patterns of adult children changed over the life of the child. Further work can help answer questions with respect to how to better define lesbian mother and gay father families, although the combined effect of changes in sexual orientation and changes in relationship status may make finding even a minimally adequate size (N > 30) random sample of adult children from stable lesbian mothers or gay fathers nearly impossible. While many would differ with some of Regnerus’s many methodological decisions, his decisions are within the ball park of what other credible and distinguished researchers have been doing within the past decade.

    • Objectivetruth

      Two men can never bring a mother’s love and instincts to rearing a child. There is no Mom. Two women can never bring a father’s love and instincts to rearing a child. There is no Dad. Only a man and woman in a committed marriage can bring to the child what they need: a Mom and a Dad. that is the Truth.

      No matter how you try to spin, twist, distort or attack this truth……it’s still the truth.

    • John200

      “Obliterated?” Prof. Regnerus’ study is brilliant. As I write, it has survived attack after attack, including…. if you want a long story, I can tell it. But I don’t think it is necessary.

      And you will be pleased to know that Regnerus is just the first in a parade. Homo”sex”ual marriage is quite poisonous to children. Imagine homo”sex”uals purchasing children, and just when that becomes slavery. You’ll get it.

      So sit tight, you’re going to learn everything you need to know. And then you won’t have to labor in darkness, unless that’s your “choice” (oops! I micturated on one of lefty’s favorite words).

  • Brittany

    This is a great article, and I agree with all of these points. However, I am a child of artificial insemination, and if my mom had had her choice, she would not have conceived me in this way. She was married to a man who, after his previous marriage and only daughter, had had a vasectomy. She was already in her late 20s-early 30s and very much wanted a child. It took her many tries, but she finally conceived of me. If God hadn’t wanted her to have me, he wouldn’t have given me to her; it’s as simple as that. I was conceived out of love only, and not the desire to experiment with technology, nor out of the desire to withhold one of my biological parents from me. I grew up with a male role model (my grandfather), and I am very grateful that he was present for 10 years before he passed away.

    I definitely empathize with those who wish they knew who their half-siblings are, as I am an only child; I would also love to know my ethnic background on his side. I did not, however, develop a ‘lost-father’ complex – I am 21 years old now, and I do not wish to disrupt his life, whether he has a family of his own or not. My situation could have been much worse – I never had to experience my parents fighting, nor was I ever torn between two parents. My mom didn’t even date anyone while I was growing up, and she never neglected me in any way.

    I intend to marry the man I love for life and to have many children, and I do not think that either experimenting with technology or directly depriving a child of one biological parent (such as in same-sex ‘marriage’) is a good thing for children. However, I do not think that my mom’s decision was a mistake.

    • Czech U. Fax

      Good can come out of evil. That doesn’t, however, make the evil good.

      • Brittany

        I didn’t say that what she did was a good thing, only that the outcome was good. And her decisions after that choice was made were loving. She may have to answer for it someday, but I think that all of the good things that she did will also be taken into account.

  • Notice how Regnerus defines the lesbian mother and gay father category. These are both taken directly from the study itself.
    [Lesbian Mother] (the pool of respondents who reported that their mother has had a lesbian relationship)
    [Gay Father] (those who reported that their father had a gay relationship)
    Notice that he did not study any children who were raised by an in tact same-sex relationship from early in childhood.

    Of course when you compare children raised in an in tact opposite-sex household by their biological parents with children raised in households where their parents’ marriage broke down because one of their parents was gay or lesbian you would find the children of in tact opposite-sex households fared better.

    Why do the lesbian mothers and gay fathers in the study end up in a broken marriage? The simple answer is that religious groups insist that being gay is a choice and thus suggest that gay and lesbian individuals can happily marry someone of the opposite sex. If anything, the Regnerus study shows that these marriages (in which one spouse is gay or lesbian and marries someone of the opposite sex) are likely to end up broken and harming the child.

    Thus, if gay and lesbian individuals were encouraged to marry someone of the same sex, they would be less likely to put their children through the pains of divorce.

    • Czech U. Fax

      Of course, if SSA persons “married” persons of the same sec, they would have no children period.

      • Arligator

        How ignorant of you. They would adopt just like thousands of straight couples do. Of course, you would probably prefer that these kids remain in orphanages and foster care than admit, as is patently obvious to anyone without ideological blinders, that growing up in a loving stable home is far better than growing up without one. Marriage ceased to be just about children generations ago.

        • John

          Um, the argument of this article is precisely the opposite. The point is that however homosexuals might wish to define their pseudogamy as a “loving stable home,” the weight of tradition, morality, natural law, science (albeit in jeopardy), Christian doctrine, and, until very recently, positive law all held differently. Marriage has never ceased to be about children–that’s part of the Catholic faith that this website celebrates and defends.

        • Objectivetruth

          But play this out: same sex couples can never, ever biologically make their own children. “what if” all heterosexual couples decided to marry for life and raise the children that are begotten of their love embrace, there would be no orphans for gay couples to adopt. Therefore, (except for tech like IVF) gays would never have children. Don’t make it look like same sex couples are being heroic and virtuous for adopting the children of heterosexual couples.

        • tom

          It’s always great for the kids when some Lesbian’s wife decides she’s not gay anymore and their adoptee is left in the lurch. nihilists like alligator, can never think clearly.

        • “Marriage ceased to be just about children generations ago.” And there in lies the problem.

    • John200

      Dear Paul,

      Sophistry does not work any better today than in Socrates’ time. Nice try, in fact, you are quite a funnyman. But it is awful hot and dry where you aim to send the child.

      Not very loving, that.

      The simple answer is that there is no such thing as homo”sex”ual marriage. Nor was there ever. Nor will there ever be. Nor could a pair of homo”sex”uals raise a child to normalcy.

      Pitiful. But funny, I’ll give you that much.

      • The true sophistry here is that the author cites the Regnerus study as if it has anything to say about how a child raised by a committed same-sex couple turns out. I might accept the study if it actually studied a gay couple who raised a child from a young age after adoption. Regnerus himself admits the study doesn’t say much about the ability of same-sex couples to raise children.

        “And when pushed, a lot of people who were critics of mine will say: “Yeah, we know that, obviously, family structure matters,” and then they’ll complain, “Why didn’t you find many stably coupled lesbians?” Well, they just were not that common in the nationally representative population. There were two cases where they said the mom and her partner lived together for 18 years. There was another several who lived together for 15 or 13 years. So, stability in the sense of long-term was not common. And frankly, it’s not all that common among heterosexual population. I take pains in the study to say this is not about saying gay or lesbian parents are inherently bad.”
        (Source )

    • cestusdei

      People of the same sex cannot “marry.” They can live together in sin, but not marry.

  • Vivianne

    Thank you for this article…

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    As the eminent psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Pierre Lévy-Soussan, told the Pércresse commission in 2006: “It is in the child’s best interests to join a nuclear family that is already socially accepted so that he or she does not have to take on the additional task, following a history of abandonment, of adapting to a family that is, for whatever reason, ‘non-standard’.” He believes that in order to be successful, adoption must lead to a psychological filiation that “allows for a nexus of the three elements that are basic to any society: the biological, the social and the subjective dimensions specific to human beings. The psychological strength of this construction exceeds the purely biological connection of filiation and provides it with security. The security and ‘truth’ of this filiation are based on childbirth, on a potential or actual procreative relationship between a man and a woman, allowing the fictional filiation through the encounter with the other sex, alive and of the same generation. The fictional filiation can then be experienced as true, consistent and reasonable.”The difference in sex between the two members of the parental couple thus seems to him indispensable if the adoption “graft” is to take.

    Obviously, we cannot conflate adoption with cases of children raised by a biological parent and his or her same-sex partner, or, especially in the case of older children, an existing carer.

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  • tom

    We’re a hopelessly hedonistic and depraved society now. It’s too late to run through the railroad cars to get back to the station, because our train has left Western Civilization, itself, behind. Anyone who votes “Democrat” just accelerates the decline in family values and should ask God for forgiveness.

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  • givelifeachance2

    “The child’s right to a father and mother supercedes any right of a same-sex couple to change the definition of marriage. The claim that this is a civil right based on equality makes no sense, because a same-sex relationship is not equal to marriage. It cannot result in the conception of a child who is biologically related to both partners.”

    Same sex “marriage” ALWAYS discriminates against the opposite sex. Why noone acknowledges the obvious truth that ssm is NOT an equal opportunity employer (M/F) is beyond me.

    Furthermore, there is a great harm that same sex “marriage”, and other artificial repro-fiddlers share – that is, they are unwitting facilitators of the brave new world technocratic State. Instead of gaining true parental roles for themselves, homosexual partners are, in effect, handing off everyone’s parental rights to the State by insinuating themselves into, and weakening the institution of matrimony (which means “mothermaking” by the way).