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Dishonest Reporting: AP, National Media, Stump for “Gay Adoption”

During the week of February 12–16, media outlets great and small piled on the AP article, trumpeting it as “proof” that “adoptive parents are better” and that America should change its laws to allow “gay marriage” and “gay adoptions.”

Lee Duigon
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“Despite the increase in gay and lesbian couples and single parents who are adopting, the number of these families in most nationally representative data sets is still too small to support statistical analysis … Our analyses focus on married male-female couples who adopt.”

—Brian Powell et al, in the American Sociological Review, Feb. 2007 [emphasis added]

How does one go from the above statement to this below?

“Adoptive parents invest more time and financial resources in their children than biological parents, according to a new national study challenging arguments that have been used to oppose same-sex marriage and gay adoptions.”

—The Associated Press[1] [emphasis added]

During the week of February 12–16, media outlets great and small piled on the AP article, trumpeting it as “proof” that “adoptive parents are better” and that America should change its laws to allow “gay marriage” and “gay adoptions.” MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, and the rest of the big media based their reporting on the AP story, while homosexual blogs and Internet sites touted it triumphantly.

But the “national study” never included same-sex couples, “married” or otherwise (for a complete text of the ASR article, see The sample studied by the Indiana University sociologists included no same-sex couples — as can be seen by anyone who reads page 102 of the ASR for February 2007.

“Of Little Value Statistically”

In a fit of advocacy journalism, the Associated Press used the sociological study as a springboard to make another sales pitch for one of big media’s favorite causes, “gay rights.” There is a consensus within the big media in favor of “gay marriage” — hence the wide and speedy dissemination of the AP story, without any attempt made to confirm its accuracy.

Brian Powell’s original study, as published in the American Sociological Review, included some 13,000 families with children in the first grade (sample sizes ranged from 12,950 to 13,899 families). Of these 13,000, 161 — a little more than 1 percent of the total — were headed by married couples with adopted children. Those 161 households included no same-sex couples or “gay families.”

According to the authors, “2–4 percent of all American households include an adoptive child.” The figure is vague because the Census Bureau has not arrived at a precise definition of an adopted child. It’s hard to find a label, for instance, for a child who is living with his grandparents, without having been legally adopted, because his parents for some reason are not able to care for him.

The study is of little value statistically, said Dr. Joseph Zanga, president of the American College of Pediatricians ( Dr. Zanga is also a past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He and others left that organization in 2001 to found the ACP.

“None of this surprises me,” Dr. Zanga said. “The sociologists’ study doesn’t even prove their own basic premise — that adoptive parents are better — because the sample size is far too small. At best, this study encourages further research.

“But that’s what the media does — they seize on the headlines, not the fact. That’s what they always do.”

Dr. Zanga has been down this road before. He resigned from the AAP when that organization published and promoted a paper in support of allowing homosexuals to adopt children — a paper which Dr. Zanga and others criticized as unscientific and intellectually dishonest.

“Of course, the media were wildly enthusiastic over that paper,” he said. “If the ‘science’ supports your argument, then these are brilliant, progressive, wonderful people who had done superb science.

“Meanwhile, at the ACP, we’re doing the job we’re supposed to be doing — letting the world know that this is not what all pediatricians believe.”

Common Sense about Adoption

Did we really need a sociological study to tell us that adoptive parents, in the words of the AP story, “invest more time and financial resources in their children than biological parents, … and invest more time on such activities as reading to them, eating together and talking with them about their problems”?

Most couples who adopt children don’t make that choice until after they’ve tried to have their own children, a quest that might consume some years. Others put off having children until they’ve achieved other goals such as finding steady jobs, settling on a place to live, etc.

The sociologists discovered something most of us already knew — adoptive parents (a small group) are, on the whole, older and wealthier than biological parents (a very large group).

Most of us earn more money as we grow older: think back to some of those entry-level jobs you had in your 20s. We also gain in experience, and hopefully become wiser, more sure of ourselves, and more settled in our ways. This is why so many parents say they had a much easier time raising their youngest children than they had with their eldest.

Adoption can be a very difficult and time-consuming process, sometimes requiring extended trips to faraway countries like China or India. It goes without saying that those who are willing to enter into this process are highly motivated to be parents.

Plus, their sample set does not include the very young, the very poor, the badly educated, and so many others who have serious obstacles impeding their efforts to be successful parents.

No, we didn’t need a sociologist to tell us any of this.

What about God’s Law?

What we have here is yet another example of dishonest reporting. Either the AP writers — and the other media who passed on their story verbatim, no questions asked — did not read Powell’s study, or they ignored the fact that the sociologists themselves said their research could not be applied to “gay and lesbian couples and single parents who are adopting.”

But we are troubled by the prospect that if only the right arguments could be made for “gay marriage” and “gay adoptions,” the American people would embrace them. The Bible teaches us that homosexual behavior is always morally wrong, regardless of the circumstances. If it could be shown that children adopted by “gay couples” invariably grow up to be millionaires, we would still be bound as Christians to reject it. Wouldn’t we?

“You and I might believe that,” Dr. Zanga said, “but although most people in this country call themselves Christians, the universe of popular opinion out there is not Christian.”

This is what makes the AP’s latest spin exercise so insidious. If people do not honor God as God, if they do not recognize God’s law as the ultimate authority in all spheres of life, they will be vulnerable to arguments based on “science,” or whatever the world and the AP call “fairness.” If they can be persuaded that “it does no harm,” or that “it’s good for the children,” they will be tempted to violate God’s laws. How many times have we heard gay activists demand, “Why do you oppose us? How does our getting married hurt you?”

Breaking God’s laws will always hurt us, sooner or later. Those laws are the stuff of which the universe is made, and we trespass at our peril.

[1] From MSNBC’s verbatim pickup of the AP article, Feb. 12, 2007,

Lee Duigon
  • Lee Duigon

Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.

Lee has his own blog at

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