This week, my husband and I should find out if we approved for adoption with the province of Nova Scotia. It has been almost two years since we began our journey to grow our family. We choose to grow our family via adoption because it feels as the most logical means for us to accomplish this. Surrogacy is expensive and technically illegal in our country, plus there are many children that need safe, loving homes. For me, I have known probably since my mid-twenties that I do some day want to have children. Being gay, I wasn’t completely sure how that would happen. Obviously, the biological method was off the table, so once married adoption was our option.
The journey to becoming parents didn’t feel real for me until we did our pre-training classes. In these classes we learned why children come into care, touched lightly about attachment, family transition and met other perspective adoptive families. It was interesting to hear other family’s stories, but as we were the only same-sex couple in our group – somewhere inside there were times that I did feel uncomfortable. That may sound silly, but because of socialization many members of the rainbow community can at times experience internalized homophobia. I feel that was a part of it, but also the feeling of hearing others say how they had always wanted to adopt. It took me some time to reconcile my feelings to own that we were just as worthy as any family in that room. That, I found surprising because I didn’t think I would feel that way for I have always been proud to show who I am and my stregenths to anyone.
For any family who is planning to have kids or already has some, I believe that is a very special and rewarding endeavour. For people that can get pregnant and experience growing a family that way, I count them so lucky. And I admit that even though, there is no biological means for my husband and I to be pregnant in the traditional sense – I am envious of that. There is part of me that so longs to hear others be excited that we are expecting versus saying ‘cool it is that we are going to adopt’ As if, it is some big miracle that we want to grow our family and choose to do that by adopting. I want the showers, the excitement of friends and co-workers and the sheer anticipation of a new life joining our family. No, if our family grows will that process bring a total new life into the world but it will bring a new life into our world. I believe that is something to celebrate, to swoon over and to share with everyone. I don’t want to be known as the same-sex family on the street, I just want to be known as another family on our street. It ‘s challenging because I embrace and celebrate the differences that make our family special, but the only frame of references I have for child rearing are ones seeping in heterosexual norms. It is a question of how one retains their queerness as a gay man while raising a family and that is a question I have not fully answered yet.
Another unanticipated aspect of the journey to date, even though that I knew we may not get a “healthy child” is dealing with my own biological sensibilities. I sense and am connected to my desire to father children and the type of children that we are open to from a sub-contentious level could be argued to be against our nature. Everyone hopes and prays for a health child, and that they will remain healthy for their whole lives. We hope for that too, but because the vast majority of children in care have special needs in some manner –it forces me to re-define what healthy really is. We are open to children that are on the autism spectrum, have fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), learning disabilities etc, do we know right now that we will always be able to handle a child with one of those: no. However, we both have good examples of parents that were and are committed to their children. I gather from hearing a lot of other parents and reading articles that there is a good part of parenting that really is just trial and error. There is no manual, and I don’t think that part of raising kids will be different for us. I worry how we will do and how many sleepless nights we will have. How we navigate being working parents, the school system, our kids teen years and beyond but I think those are things that all parents or perspective parents ponder.
Are we going to be the perfect parents: no. But we will do our best, and provide for our kids.
Right now, I can’t wait to learn if we can say “we’re expecting”