Considering Parenthood Homework

Today’s homework:
1. Think back to being a child in your family.
- What was something wonderful about being a child in your family that you would like to pass on to your child?

Matt: We ate dinner as a family most nights. I would like to keep that going. My parents always asked about my day.

Brian: Family get-togethers (Christmas, Thanksgiving, summer family reunions) where all the grand-kids felt like they were the most important people in the world.

-What is something that you would not like to repeat with your child?

Matt: Drunken Thanksgiving get-togethers.

Brian: Having them go through Jr. High and High School ashamed of and hiding some aspect of themselves, whatever it might be. Of course, they may not even have this issue.

2. Your child is now 12 years old and asks that you stop ?acting gay? in front of their friends. They also request that you hid all gay or lesbian literature, posters, or anything else in your home that would perhaps lead their friends to think that you are gay or lesbian.
- What would you do or say? Is it ok to ?out? one?s children?

Matt: I would want to talk to my kid about it. I?d want to understand what their concerns were, and how they had arrived at the conclusion that being gay or lesbian is something that needs to be hidden away.

I think it is probably similar to any kid in a minority position wanting to cover up aspects of their life that are different from the norm. It reminds me of how I felt in GT programs as a kid.

Brian: I would try to use the opportunity to talk about issues of prejudice, racism, and bigotry and how much they hurt all the people involved. I would basically say that if we were to hide traces of our homosexuality that would be sending the message that there is something wrong with it, when there isn?t. Prejudice is painful and hurtful and unfair, but you don?t respond to it by hiding. I would try to find out the source of what is causing my child to act this way (his friends or classmates) and do my best to educate them and their parents. Maybe meet with them face-to-face so they could actually see the people they are degrading or are afraid of.

3. What might be advantages for children who are raised in lesbian or gay households?

Matt: Awareness of diversity about sexual orientation. No ?jesus? guilt trips. Sense of adventure, creativity. Not constrained by norms about what life should be. Two parents that really wanted to be your parents and entered into the parenting role very intentionally. You’d never wonder if you were an “accident.”

Brian: They will have a better understanding of prejudice and why it?s wrong. Just because people are different, doesn?t make them evil or worth less than others.

4. Your child is at summer day camp and decides to wear his name tag on the back (instead of the front) of his shirt. A Junior Counselor says ?Hey ? Don?t do That ? that makes you look gay!? The next day your child tells you about the incident. What do you do?

Matt: We?d talk about it. How did he feel when that was said? What did he feel like saying? I?d want my child to understand that sometimes people will say mean things to other people ? it might be about gender, race, orientation, social status, etc. I?d also want my kid to understand that the problem lies with the person saying such things. Hateful comments are a reflection of a person who says them, not the person they are directed to.

We?d explore various ways of conflict resolution ? pick your battles. Is it important? If so, how do you stand up for yourself without being defensive. Did the other person even realize that what they were saying was offensive? It?s a whole lot of talk.

Brian: Similar to #2, I would talk to the camp management and hopefully meet with the counselor that made the comment so they can see who we are and have a good reason not to use the word ?gay? in a negative context.

The birthmother letter begins

Matt: Started writing the “Dear Birthmother” letter this evening. What an incredibly frustrating experience. It is as though a part of my brain knows exactly what it wants to say, but it can never find the words so I just sit their in neutral while my brain spins.

I managed to get about two pages of text written, hopefully some of which will make it into a final edit. Writing the document seems to create more questions than it does answers.

For example:
- If I was a birthmom, what exactly, would I want to hear? Would I want them to call it my child child, or our child, or their child?
- What parts of my life are the most relevant to becoming a father?
- How can I be so confident I’ll be a good father?
- What does she want to know about our relationship?
… and the list goes on and on and on.

Anyway, I almost didn’t start work on it today, because we couldn’t find the big sample stack of birthmother letters the agency gave us. Brian finally found them in the computer bag, where he had placed them so he could review them when we flew to see my family last weekend. But in the five minutes we were searching for them, it was kind of frantic.

Operators are Standing By :-)

Matt: One of the things we have to have for our “Dear Birthmother” letter is an 800 number for people to call us on. I just called Sprint and got it set up. How cool is that. Now I guess we have to stop procrastinating and actually write the letter.

We were hoping we could get a special ring tone for the number, but so far we haven’t figured out a way to do that. Hopefully we will, because I’d prefer a little heads up when a birthmother is calling. But I guess that’s part of the fun!

Let’s Roll

Matt: Hello. I’ve been reading about weblogs on the net for a while, and I decided it would be cool to start my own. I live with my partner, Brian, and our two dogs – Spot and Fred – in San Francisco.

We’ve just started the adoption process – we are going to do an open adoption. So I’ve decided to keep this blog (I hate that word, but who doesn’t) as a record of my thoughts and journeys through the gay adoption process.

We’ve been working with a great agency – The Independent Adoption Center and we’ve also been taking classes to help us explore gay parenting, run by a nice lady named Cheryl Deaner. I found out about the class at my church – I’m a Unitarian, and Unitarians are cool and supportive of gay people and gay adoption. It’s one reason I joined.

Yesterday, I also signed us up with the All Our Families group so that Brian and I could start networking with other gay parents.

Peace out!