It’s impossible at this time of year to avoid all the memes and heartfelt testimonials and emotionally manipulative articles about dads. Which is great for people who have wonderful dads and are happy to be reminded about how great a good father can be. It’s not so great for people who are grieving the loss of a father they loved. And it’s not so great for those of us who had terrible fathers.
I was lucky enough to have two incredible, wonderful, and loving grandfathers as well as an incorrigible (but still loving) great-grandfather who were all three very involved in my life throughout my formative years. And one of those wonderful grandfathers, my mom’s father, was her adoptive father. Not being her biological father didn’t diminish one iota the love he gave my mom and her sister (and me and the other grandkids). He did everything a dad was supposed to do and more.
Similarly, my great-grandfather was my grandma’s biological father, but he was also a step-dad to grandma’s oldest two brothers. Great-grandma was a 28-year-old widow with two young boys when she met and fell in love with great-grandpa (who, I should point out was only a 16-year-old farm hand). But even though he wasn’t that much older than those two kids, he did his best to be as good a father to them as he was to the other kids that he and great-grandma had together.
So I get more than a little angry when people (or stories or movies or TV shows) imply (or sometimes come right out and say) that step-parents or adoptive parents aren’t a kid’s “real parents.”
Which is why I want to share this little story (and angry op-ed) posted by Dan Savage earlier in the week: Brian Brown Suggests Terry and I Stole Our Son from His Biological Parents. Brian Brown is the head of the odious anti-gay National Organization for Marriage. Dan Savage is a national syndicated sex advice columnist and gay activist. But Dan and his husband, Terry, adopted their son as part of an open adoption years ago, and have raised that child while allowing (and encouraging him) to keep in contact with the biological mother who was a homeless street kid when she got pregnant. As Dan points out, there are far more orphaned children who need families in this country than there are straight couples looking to adopt. When you exclude unmarried people or lesbian/gay couples or other “non-traditional” families from the adoption process, the choice you are making is to leave those children with no parents at all.
It isn’t a choice of straight parents vs queer parents, or a mommy-and-daddy vs a single parent. It’s a choice of these so-called non-traditional parents or no parents. And note about the fact that not one but two traditional couples turned down the baby before Dan and Terry’s adoption paperwork was completed. So, the only people who deprived that kid of a “traditional” family of genitally-opposite parents were straight people.
I’m not a parent. I’ve never had kids and never adopted. But if I were a parent, and Brian Brown had come into my house and told me that he thought my child should be forcibly taken away from me just because I’m gay, I would have said a whole lot worse than what Terry said.