Thursday March 21 2013 346 pm
Leave a Comment
Okay, kids need a lot more than this. But at the foundation, children need unconditional love and support. Does it matter if they get this love and support from one adult or two? If they are biologically related to the adult or adults or not? If the adults are straight or gay, the same race or ethnicity as the child or different, from the same religious background or not? Yes. Also no.
These questions matter because our backgrounds and experiences make up a large part of who we are. So it stands to reason that they will affect the ways in which we raise our children.
But more important is the central question of how we will love and support our children as we raise them. Kids–all kids–need to know that they can count on one or more adults in their lives to guide them, to explain the quandaries of life to them, to show them how to open themselves to the experiences of the world and to model caring, compassion and resilience so they can develop these qualities themselves.
Biological parents can do this. Adoptive parents can. Gay parents, straight parents, same-race, interracial, same-faith or interfaith, mixed-political parents–these values and skills are possible across the spectrum.
The national ground is shifting on the question of whether gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry and therefore obtain legal recognition for their families, and thank goodness it is. The American Academy of Pediatrics is the latest important body to state publicly that it supports marriage and adoption rights for same-gender couples, releasing a statement earlier today noting that “[c]hildren thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security.” These families already exist, and we do them a disservice by failing to afford them the same legal recognition and protections we grant to heterosexual families in this country.
What is not good about the forward motion of the legal recognition of gay and lesbian families is the collateral damage opponents are carelessly inflicting in their desperate attempts to stave off progress. Arguing against gay marriage in the Supreme Court last week, the National Organization for Marriage’s John Eastman called all adoptions, including those of Chief Justice Roberts’s two children, a “second-best option.”
You’re looking at what is the best course societywide to get you the optimal result in the widest variety of cases. That often is not open to people in individual cases. Certainly adoption in families headed, like Chief Roberts’ family is, by a heterosexual couple, is by far the second-best option.
Eastman’s subsequent attempt to backpedal from his insult to the Chief Justice’s family and to all adoptive families by calling them “heroes” who “selflessly give of themselves” did nothing, in my opinion, to negate his earlier comment. Adoptive parents are not heroes. We are parents, just like any other parents, and the fact that Eastman would offer this tired statement in an attempt to cool the hot water in which he finds himself proves he does not understand what adoption really means.
I didn’t feel particularly heroic writing my daughter’s bus note this morning, or at her allergy doctor yesterday. Anyone else? Both felt similar to driving my biological son to soccer and asking him about his homework. All of these actions felt equally like just plain “parenting” to me.
Kids need love. They need understanding. They need a shoulder to sob into, an adult who will set reasonable limits, a parent or loving guardian or two who will see to their basic material needs and explain this incredibly confusing world where some people hate other people because they are different and bad things sometimes happen for inexplicable reasons. They need grown-ups who will sit with them and say, “I don’t know,” when that’s the true answer, and add “but I’ll try to help you find out,” when that’s possible, too. They need time and consistency from someone who loves them. They need affection and respect. They need someone good, someone honest, someone committed.
This is what a child needs. This is what makes a family. Trying to categorize and rate families because of what people are and how those families were formed? That’s not even close to second-best.