Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Two Orphans in Search of a Father

Would-be father Burr and his would-be adoptees. (Photo: El Tiempo)
The brothers, ages 10 and 13, are considered difficult to adopt, because they are older than most orphans and because most prospective parents want to take on only one child.

So, when a journalist from the United States - employed by no less than the New York Times - met the boys and petitioned to adopt them, you'd assume that all involved would be thrilled: not only would the boys have every prospect of receiving a good education and a loving upbringing, but the Colombian Institute of Family Wellbeing, or ICBF, would make a bit of progress in its backlog of thousands of orphans seeking loving parents.

But when the prospective father, Chandler Burr, informed ICBF officials that he was gay, the proceeding stopped.

That was last spring. Then, a recent series of articles in El Tiempo pushed ICBF officials to reconsider Burr's petition - and this time they approved it, in part because the boys want to be adopted by Burr. ICBF officials might also have reviewed the many scientific studies which have found that gay parents generally do as fina a job at child raising as anybody else.

But then Colombia's arch-conservative attorney general - the same guy who wants to prohibit abortion in all situations - opposed the adoption by Burr. The Catholic Church also opposed the adoption, based on outdated stereotypes about gays. That's particularly offensive in light of the Catholic Church's efforts to cover up sexual abuses by Catholic priests.

The whole episode exposes the deep cultural prejudices that persist against gays. If Burr, who works for one of the world's most respected publications, is a museum curator and even has his own Wikpedia entry, weren't gay, he'd likely be considered an ideal father. But he is gay, and so there's an unspoken suspicion that he might just be a child molester or worse.

Even El Tiempo, generally progressive and open-minded on gay rights issues, describes Burr as "confessing" that he was gay - even tho I'd bet that Burr is proud of his sexual orientation.

Finally, a commentarist below says, Burr was able to travel to the U.S. with the boys, where hopefully all will live happily ever after and prove wrong the church and A.G.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Brad said...

A point of correction: the adoption proceeding did not stop 2 years ago. It was only stopped this last Spring after a 2 year process where the boys had already visited Chandler's home in New Jersey and he had passed all the necessary psychological evaluations. What I can't figure out is if the Attorney General's objections are enough to prevent the boys from returning to the US with Chandler this weekend.

Miguel said...

Thanks for the correction. I'm also not clear about the impact of the A.G.'s position.

But it does appear to me that Chandler will succeed in the end.

Colombialiv said...

I work at one of the organizations that had this case (in defense of Chandler) and he is already in the US with the kids, he left yesterday.

Even if the Procurador would manage to revert somehow the adoption process (which is highly unlikely), there is very little risk that the children would be taken away from their father as they will already be in the US as US citizens and there is very little Colombian authorities can do then.

Miguel said...

I'm glad that Chandler was able to adopt the kids. Still, I think it's important that the process follow the rule of law, and if the AG were able to reverse the approval, then it'd be quite ugly, it seems to me. In particular, future adopter would have a much harder time. At the same time, all of this must be stressful for the kids. - Mike

Miguel said...

Also, I wonder how many openly gay Colombians have been able to adopt.