The weight of it all.

Oh friends, I’m feeling a little less sunny side up today. I started this blog so that other people could read about how our family came into fruition, and so I want to tell the whole story even when it’s painful. This blog is one part journal, one part resource, and one part self defense. I think the first two parts are pretty obvious, but the third may require some explanation. Although we haven’t told very many people we’re trying to start a family, there have been a few underwhelming responses. And that’s okay, but I want a chance to have my say, and I want to say it thoughtfully, on my terms.

I read an article about the increase in gay adoptions in The New York Times. First, I have to ask about the choice of monikers. What is a gay adoption? How is it different from adoption? It reminds me of this quote from comedian Liz Feldman:

Personally, I am very excited about “gay marriage”, or as I like to call it, “marriage”.  Because I had lunch this afternoon, I didn’t have “gay lunch”.  And I parked my car, I didn’t “gay park” it.

Second, I must tell you that I nearly blew a gasket after reading the comments that followed the article. Now, I know that I should not read the comment section. I should limit myself to letters to the editor, where people are forced to say something intelligible and sign their name to it. But the comment section is like an accident scene–it’s hard to look away. The article is about two gay men who adopted 8 children, including five siblings from foster care. They did this in spite of the legal challenges and the emotional risks involved, and some people had the nerve to shame them for depriving their children of a loving mother and father. Never one to keep my mouth shut, I had to point out the obvious to these finger wagging windbags:

VeritasVeritas, Fairandbalanced, and Mdm Mignon: has it not occurred to you that the people who originally denied these children a loving home with a father and a mother are the HETEROSEXUAL birth parents? LGBT families are willing to take on the risks involved in fostering and adopting children who may have been subjected to abuse and mistreatment since they were in their mothers’ wombs. I know hundreds of conservative, pro-life Christian families, and among them there are only two who have adopted a child. Want to appoint yourself defender of vulnerable children and moral compass setter? Adopt a vulnerable child.

After seeing that 4 readers agreed with me, I felt a little bit better. That is, until I read this letter to my favorite advice columnist, Carolyn Hax, about soon-to-be-grandparents who aren’t thrilled with their daughter’s pregnancy because it was achieved through IVF.  Again, it wasn’t the main story that got to me, it was the discussion that followed in which one woman said:

Coming from an extended family with multiple adoptions, I honestly don’t understand why couples who are having trouble conceiving go to the expense and physical difficulties of fertility treatments when there are so many children available for adoption. So maybe you can’t get a “made to order” newborn, but why not open your home to an older child? I just don’t see why people put so much value on passing on their genes while children languish in foster care.
I wrote to ask “WashingtonDame” how many children she has adopted from foster care, but she didn’t write back. (Insert surprised expression here.) So, gay people shouldn’t adopt because they are selfishly and willfully (and I quote here) depriving children of a loving home with a mother and father, but they also shouldn’t undergo fertility treatments because there are so many children languishing in foster care. So what’s a girl to do? Stop reading the papers, I guess.
But seriously, this week’s foray into the world of ersatz journalism resurfaced many of the questions R and I have been grappling with over the last year. Is it selfish to go to what some would consider extreme lengths to have a biological child? Is it wrong to choose an anonymous donor, which makes my path to legal parenthood easier and our family life less complicated, if it means our child may feel deprived of knowledge about her biological origins? Should we risk the legal and emotional difficulties of a known donor for the chance that our child will have some relationship to the donor that leaves her more healthy and secure than she might have been if we didn’t? Is the burden of languishing children uniquely ours, as a couple that cannot produce our own biological child?
Sometimes the weight of it all feels very heavy, like it does today.
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4 responses to “The weight of it all.

  1. I’m sorry that you are less sunny side up today. I’m sure there is precious little I can say to ease your pain except that I love you. But, I will share some of my own beliefs: I believe in the right to choose. To choose to be a parent in whatever way feels right to you, IVF, AI, etc, etc,. You owe NO ONE any explanation of why you choose what ever method you WANT to bring a child into the world. You also owe NO ONE any reason why you don’t choose the method they would suggest, or not to have one at all for what ever truth they hold. Plenty of people bring children into the world as an “oh, well I’ll go ahead even though I hadn’t wanted a child, but I’m pregnant”. I stand by that choice too. I also stand by the woman who got pregnant , realized that for her this was not a good thing and chose to terminate. These are all personal decisions, the most personal and intimate. I don’t want to be told I had to, ought to, must choose any of them and certainly not because of beliefs held by someone else. While there may be children who need parents you do not have to feel that is your obligation because your attempts at pregnancy require more “doctoring”. I also don’t feel that the pregnant woman who chose abortion denied another couple a child, or owed it to someone . Please quit reading this stuff. If you feel “called” to adopt, by all means do! Thank goodness some are! If you know in your heart that you want a biological child, do all you can to have one, and when that reaches an end for what ever reason, relook and move forward.
    You are being very mindful and thoughtful. Be true to you. You know your heart better that anyone. Trust yourself and try to ignore people who don’t know your heart. I believe in you and your choices.
    I wish I could say that becoming a parent will answer all questions, but I’m afraid it will only cause more. I could have asked myself to look at potential mates from a genetic standpoint and not chosen to mix the family histories of your father’s and mine. But, there is no way to look at everything and anticipate every
    potential outcome. I might not have realized fabulous YOU could have come out of a mixture of our genes and seen only the mixture of other issues. Look what I and the world would have missed out on.
    Be true to your heart. You know it better than anyone. A long missive that unfortunately because I’m writing on my iPad I cannot figure out how to scroll up and re-read. Hope I didn’t say too many stupid things! With love always.

  2. All those things your mom said. I can confirm that the waiting is the hardest part. We tried several paths toward adoption for nearly 3 years, but once we met J, we quickly forgot how long we had waited. The thing we hung on to was friends reminding us that you get the child/children that are meant to be yours, however they become part of your family.

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