Dear Catherine & David,
You mention that we should not try something new like gay adoption or gay marriage until gays can "prove" that this would not lead to some harm in any way. This idea would lead to the end of all progress since one can never prove the negative, of course.
From the 2000 census we find that nearly 4,000,000 children are being raised by at least one gay parent. The majority of these, about 85%, are the result of a previous heterosexual marriage. There are 416,000 children being raised in households led by a same sex couple.
So children being raised by gays and gay couples already exist. These latter are the children in the studies comparing children raised by same sex verses opposite sex couples I mentioned earlier. When a divorced woman later remarries, the laws of every state allow the step-father to adopt the woman's children. Some states allow the partner in a recognized same sex relationship to adopt the partner's children. Many states say that only a person married to the child's legal (biological) parent can be considered in a potential adoption. Since gays cannot legally marry in all but one state, this automatically leaves them out. Other states say that gays in a civil union or who are registered domestic partners can adopt their same sex partner's children. Nine states and DC allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt jointly.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has always encouraged step-parents to adopt their mates children, since having two legally responsible parents serves the child's best interest far better than having just one. The AAP recognizes that these benefits would apply to children of gay couples as well and therefore supports legislation which would allow second parent adoption by gay partners.
Family court matters have always been the jurisdiction of each state. Reciprocity agreements among the states have, in the past, always ensured that domestic matters settled in one state's courts would be honored in every other. Custody, child support, divorce, adoption and so on are each state's prerogative. The Defense of Marriage Act has thrown this civility into abject confusion.
In an adoption, the judges court order, the adoption agency's investigation, the original birth certificate and so on are placed under a seal of confidentiality. The state of birth then issues a new birth certificate listing the adoptive couple as parents. This is needed when entering kindergarten, applying for a passport and so on. This is to ensure that these children are not discriminated against as a result of their status and allows the adoptive parents to determine when and how these children will be informed that they are adopted.
Yet it took a federal court order to get Virginia to issue a new birth certificate for a lesbian couple who adopted a child in one of the 21 states that allows both parents in a gay couple to adopt as recommended by many health organizations. This birth certificate is for the child's benefit, not the parents. It allows the child to be included on either parents health insurance, for example. Delaying this birth certificate certainly showed no concern for the well fare of the child in this instance.
So letting gays adopt would not be an experiment, it's already a fact in the many cases sited above. More information is available at the About Adoption web site