This guest post is by Sean Michael O’Donnell , an adoptive father.
Most people come to parenthood the old fashioned way. Either they light a few candles and say, “Let’s make a baby” or they have one too many drinks and forget the condom.
I am one half of a gay couple which means no matter how hard we try or how many drinks we have we will never be able to make a baby, at least not in the conventional sense.
This does not make us unique; many people find themselves unable to have children the “traditional” way. For some people this means using a surrogate or choosing IVF.
For us it meant adoption.
Adoption made our family. We sing its praises wide and far, mostly in the hopes of encouraging others to adopt but also to educate people so they stop asking us stupid questions.
10. You mean gay people are allowed to adopt?
Yes, we can even get married now. All snarkiness aside, I’m willing to overlook this question because the truth is that I too was surprised we could adopt.
I thought our only option as two men would be to foster because no government entity was going to allow two gay guys to legally adopt a child.
Fortunately I was wrong and not only were we allowed to adopt a child, we were encouraged to do so by our agency. We now have two children and both of our names appear on their re-issued birth certificates.
9. Did you decide to adopt because of that gay couple on Modern Family?
The funny thing is we’re real people living in the real world so we don’t actually make life-changing decisions because of something we saw on TV.
My husband and I have been together for more than 18 years. We talked about starting a family very early in our relationship – approximately a year after Ellen (the TV character) came out and two years before Will & Grace premiered.
8. What country is your child from originally?
The United States of America. You may have heard of it since you live there. We get asked this question A LOT.
People seem genuinely shocked to learn that we adopted domestically, almost as shocked as when we inform them that there are more than 100,000 kids right in their own backyard in need of a forever home.
7. Couldn’t you get a baby and/or afford a surrogate?
The truth is we could not afford a surrogate. Nor could we afford to go through a private adoption in the hopes of acquiring an infant.
We are hopelessly lower middle class. Not that our limited financial resources played a role in our decision to adopt. The truth is not everyone wants a baby and not everyone requires a genetic connection to their child.
We certainly did not. My husband and I were more than happy to skip the dirty diaper/helpless stage and jump right into the horrible adolescent/helpless stage. And it cannot be said enough, there are children of all ages who need a home.
6. He looks just like you.
This is more of an observation than a question, but we hear it frequently. I’ve decided that people say it because, well, that’s what you’re supposed to say when a parent presents you with a new kid.
He looks just like you. The thing is my tall, skinny, long-limbed, Native American son looks nothing like my short-waisted, stout, full-faced, pasty white Irish ass. Still, I appreciate the sentiment.
5. Aren’t you afraid your kids will be bullied because they have two dads?
All children are bullied. Even the kids with a mom and a dad. I was the product of a heterosexual marriage and still I was bullied from the age of 7 to 18.
Of course rather than allowing my bullies to define me, I used the experience to make me a stronger person. If (when) my children are bullied I hope they will follow my lead and move beyond the tit-for-tat of playground politics.
Of course who’s to say my kid won’t be the bully?
4. Do you think/hope your kid is gay?
I assume people ask this question because as heterosexuals they think/hope/assume their child is straight. My kids are 5 and 9, and imaging them in some pre-pubescent courtship with anyone of either sex is just creepy.
The fact is their sexuality was determined long before my husband and I came into the picture. I don’t care what they are – straight, gay, bi, trans – as long as they are happy.
3. Will you be disappointed if your kid is heterosexual?
I get it…if your kid were gay you’d be disappointed. Get over it.
2. Is it in the best interest of a child to be exposed to your lifestyle?
You’re right. It’s unconscionable to expose a child to the horrors of a stable, loving two-parent home.
1. Which one of you is the mother?
Funny you should ask. I wrote a book based on that very question. The book is called Which One of You is the Mother? To best answer this stupidest of all questions, I’ll refer you to a passage in the book (and then encourage you to buy the book on Amazon).
“The first time someone asked me that question I laughed, thinking it was a joke. Which one of you is the mother? Well, if we’re talking in strict biological terms then the answer is neither of us because we’re both dudes which means we have guy parts in our downstairs.
Which one of you is the mother? Well, if we’re not talking in strict biological terms then we must be relying on gender stereotypes; therefore, as the more emotional of the two, I suppose that I fit the maternal role.
But then in terms of household duties it’s a 50/50 split: I clean, but my husband does the laundry, and we both do the cooking. My husband is better at dressing cuts and bruises, whereas I just look better in a dress.
And while he delivers award-winning hugs, I am just plain award-winning in my impersonation of Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford screaming, ‘Tina, bring me the axe!’
Ultimately the problem with the question is that it is not the question. They ask, “Which one of you is the mother?” but what they really mean to say is, “Which one of you is the woman?”‘
Sean Michael O’Donnell is the author of Which One Of you is the Mother? It is available on Amazon. He also writes at his blog, seansbiggayblog. Sean and his husband are the parents of two adopted boys, ages 5 and 9. They live in Pittsburgh, PA.
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