**Disclaimer: Names in this posting have been changed to protect the family’s privacy
The other day while catching up with a social work friend, she was asking me how my classes were going. I told her that I was enjoying my classes, especially my LGBT class. I explained the macro project that I was working on and asked her about various topics I may address on this particular macro blog project. I mentioned that one of the topics I was interested in was doing research on same sex parenting and/or a child being raised by a same sex parents. She perked up and said, “oh!!! Let me ask my friend in New York, as he and his husband are parenting two children.” A few minutes later she sent a message with a response from Jack saying that he was willing for me to ask him questions for my blog.
Below are the questions and answers between Jack and I.
How long were you and your husband together before you started talking about having children?
Jack: Four years
Did you explore different options when you decided to have children? Such as surrogacy?
Jack: We did talk about the different options, but since I am an adoptee, I was partial to the thought of adoption, and so we chose to adopt.
- Fact: The 2010 Census found that same sex couples are four times more likely than opposite sex couples to be parenting children through adoption here in the United States in the result of an estimated twenty-two thousand children are being parented by sixteen thousand same sex couples (Gates, 2013).
What type of agency did you go through? DCF or Private Adoption Agency? Since you have adopted 2 children did you go through the same agency?
Explain to me your adoption process after selecting an agency. Were you treated differently because you were two people of the same sex wanting to adopt? Did you or do you think you had to wait longer than a straight couple?
Jack: Nothing was different in the adoption process, except for the laws at the time of each adoption in each state to adopt as it was pre-DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). As to how long our waiting time was, each couple (single, straight, gay) had their own waiting times. Each birth-mother is different as are each prospective adoption parent, but we found the right the right fit each time we adopted.
- Fact: According to GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders *aka GLAD* (2016) in 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and gave access to various benefits that they were denied from within the act.Section 3 prevented the US government from acknowledging marriages of same-sex couples for the purpose of laws and programs on the federal level, even if the couple’s home state acknowledged same-sex marriages to be legal (GLAAD, 2016).
In what years did you adopt your children and what type of adoption plan do you have with each child and their birthparent?
Jack: We first adopted in 2010 and have an open adoption with the birthmother. We see the birthmother once a year, in addition to having phone calls though out the year for birthdays, holidays and big events, but we can call each other any time. We use Facebook to send pictures and updates throughout the year as well.
In 2013 we adopted our second child and have a semi-open adoption with the birthmother. As for contact we send pictures and updates quarterly through the agency.
How do your children address you and your husband? Dad and Dad? Dad and Papa?
Jack: Our children address us as Daddy and Papa.
Lastly, what is one thing you would like to say to other same sex partners who are wanting to adopt a child?
Jack: I would tell them to stop thinking that it will be so different. The only one making it different is you. In addition, we are all human and can parent as a single, straight, widowed, mixed race, gay or trans just as adequately. Go and make your family happen, now!
Thank you Jack, for helping myself and the readers of this blog posting understand a small part of same-sex parenting.
After conducting the interview with Jack, I looked more into same-sex parenting. A study in Vancouver, British Columbia found that social workers who worked in the adoption unit for the British Columbia Ministry of Children & Family Development acknowledged that there was negative bias when it came to same sex couples adopting children from the Ministry (Sullivan & Harrington, 2009, p. 241). Sullivan (2009) goes on to explain that a worker would get great feedback when they would describe an available family using gender neutral terms, but if the worker would disclose the waiting family was a same-sex couple, the feedback from the inquiring birth-family was quite negative.
I asked myself, why I thought this was? I mean we are in a time where it is becoming more and more socially acceptable to parent no matter what the relationship status was. I think that even though many people accept the thought of same sex couples being parents, there are others who are still not comfortable with it. I remember in 2003, when I was in the process of choosing the adoptive parents for my Lil Miss, that due to how I was raised, I wanted to find her a heterosexual couple to be her parents. If my placement planning had to be now in 2016, I may be open to placing with a same-sex couple. Why the change? I think it is because I have learned that the LGB population can be parents just as well as straight parents. I know birth-parents who chose to place their children with a same sex couple and have realized that parenting is just the same.
Lastly, did you know that there are still states in this country who do not allow same sex couples to adopt children? Before I looked to see which specific states denies same-sex parenting, I assumed (with my own biases) that these particular states would be in the deep south, due to knowing that many states in the south have the legal right to fire someone who is gay. Currently, all states except Arkansas and Florida, will allow single LGBT adoptions; several states allow joint gay adoptions, and the rule of second-parent adoption was unclear for many states (Adoption.com, 2016). I do hope that in the future, these two states will change these rules to allow anyone in their state be allowed to adopt a child.
Adoption.com. (2016). Local Adoption Information. Retrieved September 25, 2016, from Adoption.com: http://local.adoption.com/
Gates, G. (2013). LGBT Parenting in the United States. Los Angeles: The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law.
GLAAD. (2016). Frequently Asked Questions: Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Retrieved September 25, 2016, from GLAAD.org: http://www.glaad.org/marriage/doma
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). (2016). DOMA Struck Down. Retrieved from GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders for the LGBTQ Community: http://www.glad.org/doma
Sullivan, R., & Harrington, M. (2009). The Politics and Ethics of Same-Sex Adoption. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 5, 235-246.