Adults

Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children

Do we have a biological right to parenthood? Kevin Saunders, a childless 52-year-old gay man, says no.

Guest post written by Kevin Saunders.

Two dear friends of mine, each partnered, capable gay men of relatively sound mind and body, have recently decided to become fathers, and I could not be more unnerved. The expense, the risk, the potential for disappointment, the logistical complexity that they must navigate leave me baffled and at times enraged with the lingering question that I have, out of respect, refrained from asking, "WHY, WHY, WHY do you want to do this?!" These feelings toward what most would consider a happy occasion beg a reciprocal enquiry: "Why do you care?" The answer is rooted in a disposition and a history that has left me skeptical of the innate right to biological parenthood that many, gay or straight, seem to feel entitled to.


I've never wanted to be a father. Ever. Well, there was that frantic 48-hour period during graduate school (I'll get to that later), but as a 52-year-old gay man I can honestly say that the prospect of rocking, diapering, schooling, disciplining, worrying, and waiting for some genetic iteration of myself is deeply, existentially unappealing to me. Many have told me, "You'd be a wonderful father!" Friends and family have said that I'm so calm, so patient, so grounded. Loyal and reliable like all fathers should be. (Be damned the biosocial somersaults and private loans I'd have to endure to make this happen.) But what they don't seem to get is that, though I may on occasion possess these admirable parental qualities, I don't really like children. I'm not fond of any biped who can't hold a conversation. One who can't see beyond his/her own narcissistic needs. One who will invariably be disappointed in my failures and shortcomings. Of course, this could apply to any adult as well, but I assure you, I wouldn't like them either.

I recently watched a 3 year old have a bone-shattering meltdown in a cafe because his sleep-deprived father cut his blueberry muffin in half. Not charming. Not interested. I've seen women literally drag truculent children by the wrist through airports and shopping malls. What profound joy is this? I've heard stories of teens with broken bones, totaled cars and baby mamas. No thanks. Sorry guys, I can't make it to dinner; I have to bail my daughter out of jail.

A bit of background information: I'm an adopted only child. My adoptive mother told me, from the moment I could understand what she meant, "You're not like a lot of kids. You were chosen. You will never have to think that you were an accident." For a long time, I was proud of being adopted. I told everyone. And then, some time around 10 or 11, I started to wonder about my first family. I wondered why I was given up. Why was I unchosen and then chosen? The truth of it I'll never know, but more than likely it had something to do with being the product of mixed race parents in the late 60′s, right on the boundary between miscegenation and free love.

From my very particular point of view, there are plenty of children walking the earth right now who need love and caring. Why make more of them? I was fortunate. I was rescued from a life of foster care and group homes, and having worked with these unwanted kids for many years as a therapist, I know firsthand the enduring consequences of abandonment.

Which brings me to my temporary psychosis in graduate school. My first year I was assigned to a therapeutic after school program for "problem kids." Some were autistic or neglected. Many were socially awkward, at risk for foster care, selectively mute, smelly, biting, kicking and cursing little monsters between 6 and 12 years of age. I was utterly terrified of them all at first. But by the end of my internship, I had found my paternal wings and realized that all they really wanted, all they ever needed, was to be seen and heard and loved. There was one in particular that I fell for. Andre. He was quiet, polite, with deeply intelligent eyes. And though he never showed me any favoritism at all, I began to plan how I would adopt him, despite my mounting debt and joblessness. Needless to say, I came to my senses.

I think the lesson I learned was that fatherhood was an abstraction without a living and breathing being in front of me. I've fallen for people big and small, but even then, the responsibility of meeting their needs overwhelms me. All people aren't meant to be parents. I'm one of those people.

I enjoy my childless life. I like my lazy Sundays. My brunches. My vacations to child-free resorts. I want to be able to cut my muffin in half without enduring armageddon. Call me selfish. Or call me sensible.

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News

New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

News

Trump Administration to Allow Discrimination Against LGBTQ Foster and Adoptive Parents

In its latest move against the LGBTQ community, the Trump administration has proposed a rule that will give adoption and foster care agencies license to discriminate on the basis of religion

On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new rule to reverse an Obama-era policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity — allowing foster and adoption agencies to legally refuse to work with prospective adoptive and foster parents who identify as LGBTQ on the grounds of religious belief.

Denise Brogan-Kator, speaking to the New York Times, said the proposal would have an "enormous" impact on the LGBTQ community, noting that all organizations that get funding from the department will be "free to discriminate."

The White House, for its part, proclaimed the proposed rule was promoting "religious freedom," saying in a statement that "the federal government should not be in the business of forcing child welfare providers to choose between helping children and their faith."

As the New York Times pointed out, LGBTQ couples with children are far likely than different-sex couples to be raising adopted children. This move in support of so-called "religious freedom," then, will merely negatively impact the more than 400,000 children currently in the foster care system by denying them loving homes with LGBTQ individuals and couples.

Read more about this rule here. We'll be sure to keep readers up to speed as this issue develops.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Adoption Is a Rollercoaster, but it's Worth the Ride

Erik Alexander (aka Nola Papa) opens up about his whirlwind 3.5-week adoption process.

Adoption is an emotional journey for anyone. Depending on how long you have to wait, that anxiety can be amplified dramatically. In the beginning, we were told our wait could be anywhere from 5-7 years. Just imagine our excitement when we found it could be shrunken down to less than a month!

However, it didn't come without heartbreak. It is crucially important to know that each journey is completely different. Sure, there are happy and excited emotions. But there is also fear, tears and heartbreak. Some adoptions end in failure, without any explanation. But at the end of this journey, when you are holding your new baby, there isn't an emotion I can articulate to convey how complete you feel.

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David and Ben Met on the Dance Floor — and Are Now Grooving Their Way Through Fatherhood

David and Ben, who became fathers with the help of Northwest Surrogacy Center, live in Melbourne with their daughter, Maia.

In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. The chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

While David always wanted kids, Ben took a little convincing. So they started their parenting journey with a dog, Titan, who quickly became like their first born. From there, Ben came around rather quickly.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Single Gay Dad and the City

When Kyle decided to take his four kids, ages 6-11, to New York City on vacation, his friends thought he was crazy.

"You're crazy, Kyle."

"You can't be serious? A single dad taking four kids to the Big Apple? Think again."

"That's bold. There's no way I'd do that."

Those were a few of the responses I heard from my friends as I told them I was thinking of booking a trip to New York City with four kids, ages 11-6. My children's fall vacation from school was approaching and I wanted to get out of the house and explore. Was the Big Apple too much of an adventure?

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News

National's Pitcher Cites Wife's Two Moms as Reason for Declining White House Invite

"I think that's an important part of allyship," Doolittle said of his wife's two moms.

Sean Doolittle, pitcher for the Washington Nationals, declined an invitation to the White House after his team won the World Series this year. In an interview with the Washington Post, he listed his numerous reasons for staying home — and a main consideration, he revealed, was his wife's two moms.

"I want to show support for them. I think that's an important part of allyship, and I don't want to turn my back on them," Doolittle said during the interview.

Trump's treatment of a minority groups, generally, factored into his decision as well. "I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and [Trump] is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter. How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked or the way that he moves his hands? I can't get past that stuff."

Doolitttle clarified that his decision had little to do with policy disagreements with the White House. "There's a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we've done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the 'shithole countries.'"

He concluded by saying he respected his teammates decision to attend the White house ceremony. "I want people to know that I put thought into this, and at the end of the day, I just can't go."

Read more of the Washington Post interview here.

Change the World

A Gay Fertility Doctor Opens Up About His Own Path to Parenthood

Parenthood is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, wrote gay fertility doctor Mark Leondires in a recent op-ed for The Advocate

Dr. Mark Leondires, founder of the fertility clinic RMA of Connecticut, has helped thousands of LGBTQ people become parents over the years. But in a recent op-ed for The Advocate, he discussed his own path to parenthood as a gay man, and some of the lessons he's learned along the way.

"Similar to most gay men I struggled with the coming out process," Dr. Leondires wrote. "I strongly desired to be a parent. And as a fertility doctor I knew this was possible. What was enlightening was after we had our first child is that in the eyes of my community, I went from being a gay man or gay professional to being a parent just like most of my straight friends."

Dr. Leondires goes on to say his reasons for opening up about his parenting journey is to offer some perspective LGBTQ people who are considering parenthood. "Once you have a family you will have this common bond with the vast majority of our population and something they can relate to — having children," he wrote. "You are no longer someone living this "special" lifestyle, you are a parent on a shared journey."

Being a parent is the "one and only job" held by the majority of the population, he continued. "It is also the only job you can't be fired from."

Understanding this commonality helped Dr. Leondires in his coming out process, he said. "I had to be proud of my family because I want them to be proud of our family," he wrote. "It wasn't about me anymore. The reality is that 5-7% of patients identify as LGBTQ+, and there may be a greater likelihood that your child might be LGBTQ+ because you are. Therefore, you need to be proud of who you are and who your family is, establish and maintain this foundation unconditionally."

Read Dr. Leondires entire essay here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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