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Should Same Sex Adoptive Parents “Come Out”?
I feel as if it has been ages and ages since I sat down and really wrote a "real" blog post. Since Baby Jay came into my life, I have been playing catch up. It has been difficult to do the most basic things like paying bills or write thank you notes for the deluge of gifts that we received since Baby Jay has graced our home.
My wife, Nadia, and I are just getting around to putting his nursery together—two months after his birth— and we are slowly starting to exhale. I still feel overwhelmed when I go into a baby store, but it's getting better.
After we got the call, we passed our 30-day waiting period—the time during which Baby Jay's birth mom could have decided to keep him—with flying colors in June. This was the first hurdle in our journey towards adoption finalization. Since then we have been busily filling out paper work, updating our medical records, getting fingerprinted (again), and tending to other related tasks.
In a few weeks, the adoption agency will send our finalization packet to our attorney who will submit everything to the court. Then, we hope to get our finalization court date in October. Nadia and I can hardly wait. We are completely in love with Baby Jay.
We are awestruck, really.
But in the midst of my reverie, I feel compelled to share what I call a "teachable adoption moment." I started "The Teachable Adoption Moments Column" on my personal blog last year because I was struck by the awkward (and sometimes infuriating) situations that seemed to almost instantly arrive once we started our adoption journey. Now that we’ve been blessed with Baby Jay, I have experienced a deluge of "awkward" conversations. Here is one that I would love to get advice about.
This past weekend, Nadia, Baby Jay, and I, along with one of my BFFs and her 4-year-old son, were in a corner deli, getting food and drink for a picnic when older black woman asked no one in particular "Whose boy is this?" referring to Baby Jay. She looked at Nadia, my BFF, and me. I looked back at the woman a little sheepishly because I was thinking about how to handle this question in such a public place when all I really wanted to do was get a sandwich.
Then the woman said to me, “Oh, this is your son. You can’t deny it. He looks just like you.”
And I said, "Well..." and Nadia gave me a look which seemed to say, "Don't."
Nadia and I live in upper Manhattan, which is not known for being "gay-friendly." On the other hand, I have never experienced any outright discrimination in my neighborhood and I know a lot (!) of self-identifying queer people here, so I am typically very confident as I walk around my 'hood. I never really consider about what people are thinking of me, so in some ways, I am a little oblivious, but happy.
I thought about saying, "Well, he's our son." but Nadia's look stopped me.
Were we ready to "come out" in this public place, in this neighborhood which is not particularly gay-friendly? We hadn't really talked about how we were going to handle things like his yet. At the time, Baby Jay has only been with us for a few months. Often times, I don't come out to people I don't know, not because I'm ashamed of who I am, but simply because I am just tired of dealing with other people's judgments about my life. It can be exhausting to have to defend my life, when I'm really just trying to get a sandwich, you know?
The woman went on to say, "You can't deny your blood. He looks just like you. And they say that's good luck when a boy resembles his mother." After that, we paid for our sandwiches and left.
At first, I was really at a loss for words. Part of me was secretly thrilled that she thought he looked like me. Many people have said Baby Jay and I resemble one another, and there is a part of me that would like to wear that as a badge of honor. I wanted to give birth to my own child for so long and now I have Jay and it just thrills me on some level that he is so gorgeous and wonderful and that it looks like he could be my biological son.
However, when we left the store, Nadia whispered to Baby Jay, "You are my son too, don't forget that."
I felt horrible. I asked, "Are you okay?"
And she replied, "I don't really care about what that woman said, but I'm worried about what will happen when Baby Jay gets older. What will happen when he understands that he is adopted and how will he feel during those kinds of exchanges?"
Neither one of us wants him to feel ashamed of the fact that he has two moms and, of course, we don't want him to feel embarrassed about being adopted, so we do need to figure out what we are going to say to folks.
It's tricky because people really don't have a right to know anything about my personal life; on the other hand, I want Baby Jay to be proud of who he is.
What would you do?
Related Posts on AdoptiveFamiliesCircle
- The “Siblings Question” and Other Adoption Conversation Starters
- After Seeing Thousands of Adoption Profiles, How Hard Could It Be to Create Our Own?
- Why I Support Adoptee Rights
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