Thursday, February 01, 2007

Missing cheerleaders in the adoption wait process

My family and I just returned from a trip visiting my parents in Florida. We are extremely fortunate in that they absolutely adore our daughter, and are very supportive of our family as a whole. It is so precious to see my parents light up around my daughter, and to see her beam around them. It has brought out a beautiful side of them I had never quite seen before.

We know not every family is so lucky, so we really count our blessings on this one. It is nice to have a supportive family to share your precious child with--though we haven't been successful in getting them to move back up to "freezing Georgia" so we can reap the benefits of a free babysitter!

I bring all this up because I remember the many times my parents would visit while we were in the adoption-wait process. It sometimes hurt, but mostly was very frustrating. My parents really didn't believe we as gay people could adopt a child. Sure celebrities like Rosie O'Donnell could do it, but they didn't think WE could do it. And when we told them a birthmother would actually choose us to raise a child, they really thought we were off our rockers.

They generally weren't blatant about their disbelief, but it would always trickle out over a meal in some little comment they would make. As many people know, the adoption wait process is already very hard for most people. Having loved ones and friends not believe makes it especially hard. Sometimes we need cheerleaders in our life to keep us going, and the adoption wait process is certainly one of those times.

As gay people, the fortunate ones are resourceful and turn to others to get needs met. We were lucky to have a wonderful support group of other gay and straight people going through the adoption process with us. We were each others best support, and every single one of us eventually adopted!

As beautiful as my parent's relationship with our daughter is, there is always this nagging feeling of how my parents didn't believe it would happen for us. Were we not worthy? Would we not make good parents? Or was it just the gay thing?

It was probably the first time my parents didn't believe in me when I said I would accomplish something, which made it especially hard. Over time, I hope I forget their doubt.

Though I am living in an anti-gay world, I have high expectations for my family.

Whether my parents believed it or not, we are worthy, we are good parents, and we would not give up our dream of children simply because we are gay. Apparently, they just needed to see it happen.

I am sure their recollection of the whole experience is totally different now because none of us could imagine a life without Maggie, and I know they get it now.

I have to remember they don't live in a community where gay folks are falling off the trees like where I live. Heck, my mom's PFLAG chapter even meets on the down low in her retirement community!


Val said...

It's true, your parent's didn't know if you could adopt a baby or not, because you and your partner are gay. And that a birthmother would actually choose you, we didn't think so. Our main concern was that maybe you were being too optimistic and you would both end up being hurt by the rejection of not getting a baby. I'm sorry you didn't get the support you thought you needed at the time, but one of the hardest parts of being a parent is watching your children set themselves up to be hurt. It certainly never had anything to do with you being worthy people. As it turned out I guess you were right after all, because we can't imagine a life without Maggie. I think the main reason that is true is because you girls are such great parents. I'm glad you never gave up your dream.

Lara Belonogoff said...

I recently wrote a blog posting on gay adoption, but from the perspective of what it will mean to gay couples as they near retirement and face the needs of being an elder in their community. (Knowing that adoption laws may be becoming more progressive doesn’t mean everyone will be more open to it—or that they will find it do-able for all couples even if they have no issue with the idea of gay adoption.) There was study recently released by a team of researchers at UCLA regarding gay adoption; it was pointed out in the study that “same-sex couples raising adopted children are older, more educated, and have more economic resources than other adoptive parents.” Just another point for “in the best interest of the child” rhetoric if you ask me!

Also as an aside, I work for a company that writes about long-term care issues and I have been trying to do a few postings on LGBT retirement communities which are still few and far between. I also am trying to focus on the issues that affect LGBT seniors. One of the major ones is how present and available family members, especially younger ones, are. I found it especially heart-wrenching that your mother’s PFLAG chapter has to meet in secret, but quite inspiring that she attended.