Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tell Me Again Why I Can't Have Kids

Queer, Part 3

About 80,000 foster children go each year without being adopted. Many of these children float from foster home to foster home, never knowing if they're going to encounter a loving, supportive, (if temporary) home, or if they're going to find themselves a tax shelter and a source of state income for an abusive household.

The red tape one has to cut through to offer a child a loving home is a hurdle that can often prove who is and who is not willing to devote the time and energy necessary to become a parent. If that kind of proof were necessary before having a child naturally, we would be in a far safer - if far more bureaucratic - society. But then we would have the constant moral dilemma of deciding who will ultimately make good parents, and who should remain childless. But then - we're already doing that.

Some states maintain that unmarried people cannot adopt a child, while it is perfectly legal to raise a natural-born child as a single parent. These laws serve as thinly-veiled gay adoption bans. Only Florida has legislation specifically mandating that homosexuals cannot adopt - out homosexuals, that is. It's not a far-fetched idea that many have remained in the closet so that they may legally raise a child. And why wouldn't they? To many, the desire to raise a child is stronger than any other ideology they might possess. I can completely relate to this need, and while I would never base the beginning of my son or daughter's life with me on a lie, I would be lying if I said I didn't understand their actions.

In researching online, (yes, beyond Wiki), I've found four arguments to be the most common against gay and lesbian couples becoming parents.

The first argument states that gay parents may raise gay children. Well, they might, And they might raise straight children. I'm not going to waste my time or yours arguing why this doesn't make sense. Trust me that is doesn't. Blond parents do not adopt red-headed children who become blond by nature of their environment.

The second argument I ran into repeatedly is the religious argument. Assuming there is a religious argument against rearing a young person in a same-sex environment, I'm going to throw it out the window anyway. I'm not going to waste my time or yours on this one - if you would like to discuss this further, I'd be happy to in another post, because this is a posting (or series) in itself. Just ask.

The next argument is that children perform better later in life when growing up with both a male and female role model. Some studies have shown some evidence to back this up, but I would argue that out same-sex parents have not been around long enough to warrant a valid conclusion. Additionally, I find it hard to believe that these children would have no role models of the sex opposite their parents'. No family is completely insular - there will be friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters. Unless they live in a completely isolated environment and have no close relationships outside the "nuclear" family, then those children will have exposure to both sexes.

The fourth argument, which is perhaps the most common, and the only of the three to which I would grant some validity, is the argument of social isolation. These children would be picked on at school, looked down upon by the community, and on some level or another shunned. This is at least somewhat true, depending on where you live. But is this not a self-perpetuating cycle? The less exposure children and their families have to same-sex couples raising children, the more likely their suspicions are to take over their logic. No, I don't believe children should be raised as political statements, sacrificial lambs to social change - but I do believe that if we based all our major life decisions on the whims of the average bigot, social change would never happen.

Same sex couples may choose a more accepting community, or they may choose to keep the truth of their household a closely-guarded secret. Or, they may choose to live openly and freely, and in so doing teach their children by that example. And if they do turn out to be gay? They're not nearly as likely to despair over it.

Gay parents have a wonderful opportunity to raise children who are open-minded, accepting of change, embracing of diversity, simply way way of their environment. And if a gay couple is willing to overcome the stigma, red tape, scowls and growls that line the gauntlet they have to traverse? I believe these people have proven their devotion to raising a happy, healthy child.

And to those who would try to make these children and their parents miserable because of their own fears and misplaced anger - I say fuck 'em. Rise above it. So many of us have spent too long in the dark to subject future generations to that same darkness. It's time to learn from our mistakes. It's time to raise a generation prepared for the diverse country into which we're evolving. It's time to look back on the self-imposed dark ages of fear and intolerance, and rise above.

So ends part three. I may approach the subject again, but only when I find it relevant. After all, after everything I've written on the past three entries, that remains the largest goal of all - let's not place gays and lesbians on a pedestal, let's not further the debate. Let's make the debate irrelevant. Let's rise above it.


Aunt Becky said...

Shit, I think anyone that is willing to go through what parenthood involves and truly love a child should be blessed with them. Gays, lesbians, all of us. When you have yours, Will, I have some great clothes for you. I'll hold onto 'em.

Will Shealy said...

I wrote this quickly so I wouldn't be late for trivia night - I need to do some editing and reword a few things - so if you read this prior to 10:30 pm EST on 3/17, be patient - I'll fix it all when I get home!

Will Shealy said...

Aunt Becky, I adore you! While I hate this idea on principle, I will make an exception - Aunt Becky, can I be your gay?

Darkwulfe said...

Very well written Will, and I appreciate your candor and your "devil be hanged" approach to it.

Here is one question about something I suspect is another "myth" developed by the religious right in its attempt to stop this, so I will ask your opinion. I know the argument used by some is that same gender couples would choose to adopt ONLY the gender they are so they can "turn" them. So my question to you is, would you have a preference of adopting a boy or a girl, and if you do have a preference? what is your reasoning, if any?

Also I would be interested in your thoughts on the religious side of this. I know that for you it is an irrelevant argument, but in my personal circumstances where I am a straight man defending gay and lesbian rights in a very ULTRA conservative and religious environment it is very relevant. So if you feel comfortable about it, I would be interested in your elaborating on your take on it.

Ok...guess I have rambled on enough...great post Sir and I look forward to more dialogue with you on the subject.

Will Shealy said...

Darkwulfe, I'll try to answer your questions as best I can.

Do I want to adopt a boy or girl? Well, I have no particular preference, but if I had two, I would like one of each. The argument that we might "turn" children gay (people, it is NOT a game of Red Rover, as I have said many times) - all I can say to that really, is that until those who argue that this magical transformation of sexual preference by way of proximity is even possible, they will never understand that we cannot and have no desire to steer our childrens' sexual preference one way or another. Actually, I would argue more straight couples (particularly fathers who suspect their sons are gay) are guilty of this than gay couples. Think of how parents for generations tried to make their children who were naturally left-handed, use their right hands - it led to poor coordination and awkwardness. Imagine what it does to a child whose sexual preference is being forced one way or another - no rational parent should force their child to be someone they're not.

As far as the religious argument. Okay, I'm going to crack Pandora's Box open here for just a brief moment.

Whether you see homosexuality as a sin is directly related to how you see God. One might argue that the sin is the act itself, rather than than how God created a person - I've even heard the argument that it's a test of faith and strength. Unfortunately the way I see "God' (that's as far as I'm getting into my spiritual beliefs here) tells me that I was created a certain way, for a particular reason. I was meant to fall in love with a member of the same sex, for whatever reason. If I were meant to fall in love with a woman, I would be heterosexual.

The religious argument can only be approached from one angle at a time, which makes the argument so difficult to begin discussing. Religion, like life, is dictated by your perspective.

If it's an argument you're trying to prepare with family, then you first have to break down the stereotype and the illusion of lifestyle choice. Until then, all they will see in people like me is a walking sin.

Samantha said...

you would make a great dad, Will. I'm all for it!