Are Adoptive Parents Saviors?
The other day my husband and I took the boys out for lunch to celebrate my oldest son's fourth birthday. We were having a really good time and my oldest had to use the bathroom so my husband took him while I stayed with my other young son. A middle-aged woman approached me and asked if those were my two kids and my husband. It caught me off guard because, for once, someone assumed correctly so I hastily responded that they were. She then asked if we adopted our children. Another good guess. I was grinning from ear to ear by his point. She ended by saying, “Thank you for saving those boys from a life of hardship.”
She kindly went on her way and my husband and son came back. As we left and drove home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the interaction. It sat with me for the rest of the day, but I couldn’t really put my finger on why. I didn’t think I was mad, or upset, or irritated. It took me awhile, but I finally realized what was bothering me: I didn’t save my kids from anything. I felt that her assumption was unwarranted and hurtful to the birth parents of my boys.
Ben with his eldest son
All adoption stories are different. I think all of us adoptive parents go down that road for different reasons. In our case, my husband and I always wanted to be parents more than anything. Financially, the surrogacy route was out of the question, so really our only option to grow our family was through adoption. My father-in-law is adopted as are other more distant relatives, so we felt like it was also something our families would easily support and not view as a foreign idea. I don’t think either of us went into this journey under the guise of saving children. We just wanted a family. That’s what led us to working with our adoption agency who helps match birth parents with prospective adoptive parents. Our goal when we met with the birth parents of both of our children was to help put their minds at ease, hopefully getting the sense that their children would be well cared for, loved, and cherished.
My own two children had very different reasons for being placed with my husband and me. Their stories are beautiful and unique. However, I truly don’t believe my children would have faced a life of hardship. Like everyone, I can assume there would have been ups and downs. We recognize that we’re not perfect, as much as I try to convince my husband that I am. We also recognize that we don’t know what the future holds for our children or how their lives could have been. But what difference does it make honestly?
Ben's eldest son
Choosing to be Parents
At the end of the day, we chose to be parents. Not because we wanted to be saviors. Because we wanted to be parents. We do our best day by day to provide a loving family for our boys. That’s our No. 1 goal.
In the cases of our boys, adoption was chosen in their best interests. Is adoption a beautiful thing? Of course it is. Does it give adoptive parents the gift of parenting? Yes. Was it made with the best interests of everyone at the moment of adoptive placement? Hopefully, yes. Do people voluntarily or involuntarily place their children up for vastly different reasons? Yes of course they do. But in no way are adoptive parents “saving the child from a life of hardship." There is no way of knowing what would have happened if the child had stayed with the birth parents or whoever placed the child up. Did my husband and I do a wonderful thing by adopting? I personally think we did an amazing thing. But I’m more focused on giving them the best life I can. I will worry about that and hopefully others around us will focus on that and not on what might have happened.
Read Ben's last blog post "Dad, why is my color different from my brother's?"
Read Ben and his husband Nick's #GWKThenAndNow
Over 2 years ago, we spoke with experienced filmmaker Carlton Smith about his documentary featuring gay dad families created through foster-adopt. It was a heartfelt project that shone a light on the number of children in foster care (roughly 400,000 as referenced at the time) who desperately needed a home. And the large population of same-sex couples, many newly married, who were interested in starting families of their own.
"Let's skip," my daughter said on our way to school the other week. She took my hand and started skipping along, pulling me forward to urge me to do the same.
Wouldn't it look, well, gay, for me to skip down the street? In public? I wasn't willingly going to make myself look like a sissy.
As part of our ongoing #GWKThenAndNow series, we talk to dads who have gone the distance and been together a great many years. Terry and Michael have been together 15 years, have two children, and live in Orlando, Florida. We find out how it began, and what they look for in a partner in life, love and fatherhood.
Johnathon and Corey, both 29, met in 2011 working for the same employer. And since their first date, they've been inseparable. Johnathon is a full-time student pursuing a degree in Human Services, and once he completes his degree, he will return to his Native American tribe to help fellow Native American families in need. Corey is a stay-at-home dad. Together they adopted 6-year-old twins, Greyson and Porter, from foster care on June 1, 2017. We caught up with the first-time dads to see how fatherhood was treating them.
The Long Island Adoptive Families support group was created by parents going through the adoption process or who had already adopted. It was a great way to help members navigate the path of adoption whether it be private domestic, international agency, domestic agency or foster care. We spoke with Chemene, one of the founders, and found out how this group is supporting local gay men interested in becoming fathers.