Wrestling With a Question. Wrestling With the Answer, too.
Welcome to the final interview, the last stop (sort of) before a child walks through your door (you still need CPR certification, a home safety inspection and a live scan background check) .It also happens to be the interview we were dreading. Like seriously, seriously dreading.
You see, the final interview is when shit gets real – there’s really no better way to put that. All of your thoughts, wishes, hopes, dreams, fears and desires must be on the table and ready to serve; your truth must be spoken, written and signed in blood – or signed, sealed, delivered; whichever you prefer.
“Would you be open to parenting a child who identifies as LGBT?” our social worker asked as she curiously looked up from behind her laptop.
Eric and I already had this question on our radar and had given the possibility a lot of thought before finally settling on an answer – an answer that still haunts me to this day.
“Not now,” I replied, immediately rattling off excuses to avoid the embarrassment that was already overwhelming me. “I mean, we’re looking at 6 to 9-year-olds – is this even something we might have to deal with?”
“Possibly,” she replied, clearly intrigued to learn how we, a gay couple, had arrived at such an answer.
The truth is, I don’t think we will ever get over the fact that we said “no” rather than simply saying “yes” and letting the chips fall where they may. I recalled the tragic story of little Larry King, a child of the system, and the extreme pain, hurt and ridicule he must have felt before he was eventually shot to death at point-blank range in his 8th grade classroom simply because he liked to dress up in women’s clothes and flirt with the boys. I could have been Larry King. We all could have been. And yet here we were removing children just like him off of our potential match-list before even getting started.
Years after his shocking murder, I still struggle to understand how an entire community turned their back on little Larry after his murder and somehow managed to blame him, and yet we were doing the exact same thing to someone quite possibly just like him. Why wouldn’t we want to parent a free-spirit – a child of courage who realized long before we ever did that he was different than everyone else and managed to accept it? If only we could have been that free.
In the search to understand ourselves and our answer, we came to terms with the fact that we both came from backgrounds where we tried our best to assimilate to “straight” culture, even when it was obvious to others that we were anything but. Looking back, our denial of self, based solely on fear, is a sad reality that has left us both extremely self-conscious and painfully self-aware. As first-time parents with so many other challenges ahead, we felt that adding one more complex element to our family before we even got started could prove overwhelming. We felt that parenting was something we had to get right – even if making this decision was wrong.
So what will we do if on day one our son comes home and tells us he’s gay? We’ll support him, of course! We’ll support him and love him and celebrate him just as we will if he isn’t. We’ll fight for him and never turn our back on him. And while time has passed since making that decision, the answer we gave that day hasn’t gotten any easier to digest. It wasn’t that we didn’t want a gay child, rather we wanted to be able to offer support, love, opinions, suggestions and help if our child is to navigate the process of coming out. We wanted to be able to parent that realization. This was only about us wanting to protect our child from the cruel world, which was something little Larry King never had.