I’m no activist—certainly not the kind to lay down in the middle of the street to be carried off by the police. I applaud those who are, those whose courage and tenacity in acts of civil disobedience have furthered causes for which there would not otherwise be a voice. I find myself instead as the quiet protestor—the guy who simply by his existence, without saying a word, takes a stance against the disease of ignorance and homophobia in his daily life.
I am a parent and a gay man. That is no longer a contradiction or an oddity. One in every five gay male couples in this country is raising children and there is at least one same-sex couple raising children in 96 percent of all counties nationwide. We seem to be blending in everywhere—the urban, suburban and rural. Our family lives in a quiet semi-suburban neighborhood, under a great canopy of trees. Our house is nestled among others that are inhabited by empty nesters and new families with young children. My existence would never be thought of as noteworthy, certainly not revolutionary. We don’t do anything out the ordinary. There isn’t even a rainbow flag streaming from our front porch, though you might have seen a Marriage Equality sign in our front yard a few years ago.
I don’t have conversations very often about being gay. I have conversations about being a parent, because that’s what really matters these days. I haven’t forgotten the experiences of my life as a gay man and how that is a part of who I am. I am not blind to the fact that part of our society still views me as an abomination. But it no longer matters as it once did. My role as father has taken who I am for a profound ride—there is nothing quite so life altering. How I view myself and interact with my world is now intrinsically connected to my responsibilities as the care-giver, educator, and nurturer of the two little boys in our home.
And as much as I love my parental role, it remains temporary. For the last three years I have been foster dad to the most beautiful–almost four year old—the world has ever seen. I would have made my fatherly arrangement permanent long ago, had that opportunity presented itself. For now I continue to love him and treat him as if he were my son, regardless of our legal status.
Then I became a father for the second time just over a year ago, when this amazing baby boy entered our lives. I was smitten shortly after his arrival. He is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me in my forty-some years. And for the last thirteen months he has been my almost adopted son. We have worked with our agency and lawyer for some time trying to get the judge to decree that finally in law, we are father and son. I have been poked and prodded by physicians; I have been analyzed by social workers; I have been finger-printed and background checked; I have been interviewed by adoption agency staff; and through an attorney I have been questioned multiple times by the court. I have done everything asked of me. I have been through what everyone else, gay or straight has gone through to be an adoptive parent.
This Saturday the waiting will be over—the adoption will be finalized. There is something quite revolutionary about what is to happen. Personally, there will no longer be any uncertainly about what my son and I are to each other. A government entity will make the relationship that we have shared since his birth, official, irrevocable. The role that I have relished all this time will at last become permanent. What this means for me, the quiet activist is that I am no longer just a wanna-be dad. I am not a pretender. I am the real deal. It won’t change my role or my relationship with my son. I don’t think it will alter the way our friends relate to us, or change how the neighbors look at us. In fact it will make me all that more ordinary—another dad on our street. It will make me just another soccer game spectator, kid-laden grocery cart pusher, parent-teacher conference attendee. It will make me more alike than different from my heterosexual counterparts, and that’s the amazing thing about being a dad. We are not so unlike, you and I.
In that courtroom, standing among all of those happy soon to be official parents—both straight and gay—we will all share in the same request of the court: make this permanent. Attach me to my son by law the way I am attached to him in reality. This day makes us all the same— joyful parents whose wish has finally come true. National Adoption Day—The Great Equalizer.