Monday, December 2, 2013

"Mama, are we gay?"

A question asked by my six year-old daughter the other day.

The first thing I did was ask her if she remembered what gay meant. Mostly she did (when a girl has special grown-up friendships with girl and a boy with a boy), though I did have to remind her that sometimes people have special grown-up friendships with boys and girls.

Then I told her that I am gay and when you’re a girl and you’re gay you’re called lesbian. I am a lesbian but that doesn’t make us a gay family because lots of families are made up of people who are gay and straight.

As for her, well, some people get a sense of whether they are gay or straight when they’re little but many others don’t figure it out for sure until they are adults. I assured her that whenever she figured it out is fine, whether she turned out to be gay or straight is also fine, and if she changes her mind that’s okay too. She didn’t have to be gay to be in our family. We’re not a gay family. We’re a family.

With her position in our family established, now my Montessori-educated kid went into one of her favorite pastimes. That is, categorizing things to understand them better. She started asking about people we knew. Was this person gay? What about that person? Turns out her gaydar is pretty good, if a bit over-sensitive. She didn’t peg anyone as straight who is gay but there were a couple of people she had a difficult time believing were not gay. Luckily, none of them will be offended if she shares her mis-identification with them.

In the moment, I was just kind of bemused but later after she was in bed I got to thinking. The question, “Are we a gay family?” and the implication that if we are a gay family then I must be gay to be a part of it makes me think, did those of us who grew up in straight families assume that we must be straight to be a part of the family, to belong? Straight was the default and gay was the deviation from the norm. How many deviations do you get before you don’t belong anymore? I’d already used up a bunch of mine on just being very different from my parents, and frankly, weird. I wasn’t ready to add another deviation to the list by coming out as gay until I was nearly middle-aged.

Because my daughter is adopted and black (I am white) it’s important for me to reinforce the fact that she is part of our family no matter what. For that reason, I don’t want her to feel like she needs to come out as straight anymore that I want her to come out as gay. I hope that one day (about ten years from now!!) she can just walk in the door holding hands with Isabelle or Jack and introduce them as her girlfriend/boyfriend and that it never occurs to her to come out as anything.

Alison Aucoin is the happy single (not co-parenting) lesbian mom of a six year-old daughter she adopted from Ethiopia. She runs her own consulting firm, Two Birds One Stone, that provides low-cost fundraising and grant writing services to non-profit organizations around the country. She has her own blog at Ende beteh yemhone yelem and might get back to writing for The Nervous Breakdown any day now...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

FAMILY by Joey Spinelli

The holidays are approaching.  This means a lot of things to my family and me.  Most Importantly it means we are going to North Dakota for Thanksgiving.  What?  North Dakota?  I know, I know, its sooo Middle America, but that’s where my partner is from and that’s where his family is.  Since this is the time of year where we remember to be thankful, I want to give you and idea of what his family means to me. I look forward to this trip every year.  My partner can take it or leave it.  He loves his family but he is more concerned about spending that $1000.00 on new landscaping or updates to the house, not plane tickets.  I love all that stuff also, but to me family time is more important. 

I remember the first year T and I were dating. We went to ND to visit for Thanksgiving and I got to meet a big part of his family.  There was his mom, his step dad, his sister, her husband and their two kids.  The kids were pretty young, I think about 6yrs and 2yrs.  The family was very welcoming.  His mom cooked a fantastic Thanksgiving turkey dinner with all the trimming and I remember thinking how large the table looked with all those place settings.  It looked like she was cooking for everyone she ever met.  I had taken the liberty of bringing a recipe for sweet potato casserole that became a yearly staple for that dinner.  The whole trip went well and I felt like I really got the chance to learn about his family and about where he came from.  For instance, his mom just wanted to be included in his life because she missed her son.  To this day, I keep her in the loop on everything here at home.  His sister had her hands full with two beautiful kids and her husband that likes to hunt but she was really into Black Friday shopping.  On the day after Thanksgiving, She woke us all up at 2:30am to be at the stores by 4am.  She opened my bedroom door at 2:30am and was like, lets get going, the stores open up in an hour.  I thought, “You have got to be joking”.  But no, we all got up and went shopping Friday morning at 4am.  And, if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s like 4 degrees outside.  By 9am that day, I was wiped out and we all needed a little naptime. 

The second year I went back was slightly different because in October of that year, right before Thanksgiving, I became a vegetarian.  I never really ate red meat or fish anyway so I just decided to give up eating poultry.  I had been a month into it and then the Thanksgiving trip got here.  Again, we get to Thanksgiving dinner and it’s a large meal for everyone.  I guess my partner told them about me being a vegetarian because while they were passing the food around his mom announced loudly “Now everyone, it’s Thanksgiving so nobody is on a diet today” as she look right at me.  In a low whisper type voice, I said to her across the table “I’m not on a diet, I’m a vegetarian”.  His sister’s husband almost dropped his fork, looked up at me, stared me in the eye and said “but you eat deer meat, right?”  ummm no, sorry.  I swear I heard him crying in the bathroom later on that night. Poor guy.  The next day was Black Friday morning, and you guessed it, we were at the stores by 4am to get the bargains.

When we first talked to his family about being parents, we spoke with his mom first.  We told her we were going to take on the responsibility of a child.  I could tell that his mom always wanted him to experience being a success in life but that she was sad that he would probably not get married and have a family like the rest of her kids because he was gay.  Even when he met me, his mom was apprehensive because she didn’t want him to get hurt.  I remember when I first met T, I would write him some poetry (hey, I was young), and he would tell his mom about it.  I’ll never forget what she said to him.  “Oh son, be careful, this one sounds dangerous”.  He told me about that when it happened.  Someone else might have gotten upset about that but not me.  I knew immediately that she loved her son very much and didn’t want him to be hurt.  She and I had that in common.  As the years went on before our boy came along, she came to love me.  One of the reasons was because I kept a dialog with her all year long.  Her daughters are all married to good men, but I am pretty sure that none of their husbands text or call the mother-in-law on their own just to say hello, or to ask her opinion on things or to plan trips.  In fact, it’s kind of a running joke in our house that when his family wants something, they call me, not him. 

As the years went on for Thanksgiving, his mother and the rest of the family would treat me like I was a spouse.  There was no difference other than I felt like I had a much better relationship with his mom than the other husbands did.  They watched football and I help with the dishes and talked with her about life.  This went on for a few years and I still have that relationship with her. The real wake up moment for me, when I knew this was the real thing was when my boy was about 3 years old.  I had sent T’s mom a photo from day care that the photographers took for school photos.  I was a proud parent and didn’t really think anything other than I wanted to share the photo with grandma.  That same year, during the Thanksgiving trip. We had just all had Thanksgiving dinner (and his mom was now making a separate stuffing casserole just for me with no meat, Woo Hoo!) and we were sitting in the living room relaxing.  I noticed the photos of the grandchildren on the fireplace.  She has 4 grandkids from her daughters.  There were 5 photos.  I thought that was odd.  I got up, went to the fireplace and I couldn’t move.  I started crying. Nobody noticed because I didn’t want them to see me.  When I went up to the fireplace, there were photos of all the grandkids from their school photos, including our little 3yr old boy.  I left the group and went to be alone for a while.  I wasn’t sure what to say.   I was very happy and proud.  My boy was part of a real family, and now he was part of an extended family that treated him no different than the other kids in the family.  I told T about it later on that day and he felt emotional about it also.   Its funny, I spend every day fighting on the front lines at school, swimming, restaurants and everywhere else we go as a family to show people that we are here, we are a family and we are just like everyone else so accept us and move on.  Now, here we are, in Middle America, where there are more bibles than you can count, and we are accepted unconditionally, with no convincing needed by me.

I already loved T’s family before this ever happened, but I will forever love his mother because of how she treated her adopted grandson.  She recognized her son is happy, that he has a family, and that she is part of his family.  That is true Christianity.  Loving, accepting and non judgmental.  I don’t agree with his family on everything, especially politics.  I am an atheist and more of a liberal because of my fight for gay rights and some of his sisters are more republican because of their fight for fiscal conservativeness.  We definitely have our differences of opinion.  But, I know when the going gets tough, his family is in my corner and that I could call them on a moments notice if I needed them for something.  Each one of them means a lot to me.  Each one of them has treated my boy like part of their family and sure I am an activist for what I believe in, but when it comes down to it, I believe in family first and I know they feel the same way.  I have much to be thankful for this year.  And hopefully, I can get some good deals Black Friday morning at 4am.  It’s now my favorite part of the trip!

"Who am I? That’s simple. I am a gay parent that’s treated like a second class 
citizen and I am done taking it. 

Every day I am in the battlefields, in my kid’s school, PTA meetings, swim team, birthday parties with
other parents and I am forcing people to meet me.
Every day I stand right next to them and even if it’s just in my mind, I say “ Look at me will you! I am a gay man, right in front of you. 
I have a partner of 8 years and a 6r old boy. 
My kid is in your kid’s class and will be for the next 11 years. 
I am not going away so now would be as good a time as any to accept me and everything that comes with me."
Joe also blogs at 1 regular joe

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Catching Up with Dara Fisher on Religion, being a "Gayby" and just how great her Gaydar is.


Sorry for being gone so long!  We've had a heck of a life transition lately and unfortunately, my writing had to go on the back burner.  In July, my better half had weight loss surgery and as of this writing, is down nearly 80 pounds.   On top of that, my school schedule this semester has been pretty labor intensive and then there are those three kids that keep eating my food and leaving messes around the house.  I officially have a teenager now and he is making sure I know it.  I don't mind him getting older but I wish he'd quit dragging me along with him.

I have had some amazing, life altering experiences over the past few months.  To be honest, I've spent a lot of my quiet moments reflecting on my life and the role I play in this World.  I work in a hotel and I have gay couples who check in often.  Recently, we had a group of our Marines return home from Afghanistan.  A lovely lesbian couple came into the hotel to check in and I could tell from their body language that they were trying to keep a distance from each other in an effort to avoid being detected.  I have seen this happen quite a few times but I knew instantly how to address the issue.  I smiled as I checked them in and when it came down to make the room keys, I addressed both ladies as “Mrs. Smith” because I had noticed they were both wearing wedding rings and also came from a state in which gay marriage was legal.  It was as if a huge weight had been lifted off their shoulders.  They became chatty and told me that they were in our area to welcome their son home from Afghanistan.  They asked me how I knew they were a married couple and I told them I was born with the ability to see love in all it's forms.  I also added that gaydar comes as part of the standard package when you have gay parents.  The next day, their son came into my office to thank me for making his Mom's feel welcome and he wanted to meet me because he was surprised to find another “gayby” that was in our age group.  It's always interesting to meet other children of gay parents because we all have a tendency to be really wonderful people.  I have yet to meet another gay family child that isn't absolutely awesome.  We tend to have a different outlook on life and as a result, we are open, loving, and funny people.  I don't get to meet very many of us simply because the whole gay family thing is relatively new.  Those of us who are adults grew up as a specialty thing.  For all of you who are raising children right now, I can't wait to see what the next 20 years has to offer.  I joke all the time that “we” are going mainstream.  I honestly believe our next generation is going to be the best one yet.  The children you are raising right now are going to be the voices of their generation.  They aren't going to be the minority, they are going to be part of the norm.  Rather than a young man getting excited about meeting another kid from a gay family, it's going to be, “You too huh?”

I had another experience this summer that really touched my heart too.  I met a gay man who I instantly clicked with.  He spent a few days in our local area, and over that time we had some really great conversations.  I also experienced for the first time the sadness that being gay can cause in someone's life.  This man was a beautiful soul.  He was suffering through some health issues because of his past history and anxiety was hampering his life.  I could see that he had a vibrant personality but that struggles with his sexuality had left him hurting.  It was a strange experience for me because I have never had to deal with homosexuality being a difficult issue, at least within my family.  I was born into the gay community and my parents along with their friends were always a source of love and acceptance.  You read all these stories about parents that disown their kids because they are gay but I've never seen the outcome of it.  Now I have and it absolutely broke my heart!  I felt so angry, almost to the point of rage when he told me about what he had to go through with his parents.  Not only was he estranged from his parents, he lived in fear of physical violence from his father because he was gay.  As a Mom, I just can't fathom how a parent could treat their child like that.  I love my babies.  I love my babies with a fierceness and dedication that knows no boundaries.  I love every single thing about each one of them from the top of their head to the stinky toes they put in their shoes!  They drive me up the wall sometimes but I love their independence and the fact that they can think for themselves and express their opinion.  There is nothing that could ever change that.  The idea that a child should be shunned for being gay is out of my comprehension.  This man was an adult, older than me in fact, but when it comes to parental relationships, we are always children.  This man was missing a key relationship in his life and it was causing him physical harm.  I don't understand.  I just don't understand.  I've always felt that I was the luckiest woman in the World because not only was I blessed with my children, but God thought enough of me to trust me to protect these beautiful little people.  The majority of these parents that disown their children do it because their religion tells them that being gay is a crime against God.  I am a Christian (Quit laughing!) and I feel that God created homosexuals just as he created me.  I am the first one to admit that I can be a bit high on the horse but I would never, ever, question God and his creations. 

I am also dealing with a weird situation with my youngest son.  MJ is 4 and attends a local Christian preschool.  I love the school and his teachers but I really don't want my son involved in organized religion.  Unfortunately, we don't have any preschools in our area that aren't religion based that our son is eligible for because of our income.  The husband and I have had quite a few arguments about MJ attending a religious school and I think we have finally found a meeting point.  I don't want MJ going to a school that is based in religion because he is part of a gay family.  Organized religion has a tendency to give us “sinners” anxiety problems and I don't want my baby to go through that.  I'm also not a big fan of letting our son think that he is better than other kids his age simply because he goes to a school that cost money and somehow gives off the feeling of “exclusivity.”  I understand parents wanting their children to have the best of the best but I want my children to grow up knowing equality, empathy, and pride in their achievements.  I don't intend to turn a child out into the World thinking they are better than anyone else.  Of course, I also don't believe that children who go to private schools turn out that way either.  Those character flaws are usually based in how the child is raised, not what school cashed their parents check.  Anyway, the long winded point is some of the issues that have come up with my son attending a religious school.  Last Christmas my little boy came home very excited because they were doing a Christmas play and he had been told to bring his whole family. They had also told the children to bring their family to Christmas morning service.  Of course, I just started laughing because when they told these toddlers to make sure they brought their family, they didn't know what MJ was going to come through that door with!  Knowing that our family would probably cause a scene, I opted to not attend the Christmas day service because I won't worship in a place where people like us aren't welcome.  I got a lot of negative feedback for that decision but I stand on it and will again this year.  I worry a lot about what type of information MJ is getting at school.  I know that a religious school is going to teach their beliefs to the children and I fret a lot about MJ being taught that his family is destined for the fire pits of hell.  Last week I was driving MJ to school with my daughter and from the backseat MJ said, “It's weird that I have two Grandpa's in one house”  I felt my heart drop because I knew exactly what my son was trying to say.  We were discussing our annual Thanksgiving trip to visit Papa and Grandpa and my 4 year old was expressing that he felt weird about having Grandpa's that were together.  Before I even had a chance to respond, my daughter got angry and said, “It's not weird!  Don't say that about Papa and Grandpa!”  I didn't have an immediate response because I was driving and trying to get my daughter off the ceiling of the car but I knew it was something I had messed up.  You see, my two oldest children have always known Papa and Grandpa were gay.  It was something that was part of their every day lives so there was never a weirdness about it.  MJ on the other hand has not lived around his two Grandpa's on a daily basis.  Dad and Richard live a few hours away and have since before MJ was born.  His Grandpa's are there for the Holidays but not part of his daily life.  His paternal Grandpa and Grandma see him almost every day and he spends as much time with them as he does with us.    Obviously, MJ's idea of what a “normal” family is would be based on what he sees.   I couldn't tell a toddler that he was wrong in thinking it was weird because it's not wrong.  Two Grandpa's is weird to a child who sees Grandparents as a Grandpa and a Grandma.  In the end I just asked him if he loves his Papa you love your Grandpa Richard?  Yes!  Okay....good.  Well then, guess that deals with that problem.  I'm still hashing over this situation but for the time being, we're just going to stick with this solution.  Our family is blessed because we meld so well.  My husband's parents and my parents get along very well.  I adore my in laws and my parents love my husband.    When I was a kid, I wondered a lot how I was ever going to get married and have a family with parents like mine.  I'm really glad that was just another one of my pointless concerns.

Dara Fisher. A 33 year old Mother of 3 amazing children with her Prince Charming Keith.  
They live right outside of Palm Springs, California. Dara has degrees in Anthropology, Liberal Arts, and Business Administration.  
She works full time in the Hospitality Industry and attends college classes in pursuit of her MBA when she's not busy being Super Mom.   
She spend her spare time crocheting, quilting, and making a mess with pretty much anything she can get my hands into.  She is a huge Doctor Whofan and  can't eat while watching The Walking Dead. 
Oh and she also happens to be the daughter of gay parents and the Mother of a child with Asbergers  Syndrome and ADHD

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Congratulations!! It's a Website!

Nearly two years has passed since we introduced the word DADsquared to the world.

It began with the Facebook page and this blog but it quickly became more.
DADsquared became a home for men (and women) all around the world searching for a missing piece in their lives, and that missing piece was children.

Since it's birth, DADsquared has seen the world of Gay Dads rise to such unbelievable heights that I often stand back in awe.
Our making Babbles Top 50 Blogs for 2012 is certainly proof of that.

We have seen countless numbers of new families being created.

We have been guided and help guide many people towards parenthood.

We have forged relationships with some amazing attorneys, surrogacy agencies, adoption agencies and all sorts of professionals who's expertise in helging LGBT families grow is undeniable.

As we ourselves grew we found ourselves building DADsquared in the same way we build families, with hope, blind faith and trust.

In contemplating our logo I had this crazy dream that New York Times Best Selling childrens book author and illustrater Todd Parr designed it for us.

Crazy right?
Not for a dreamer.

I reached out to Todd and together we created something I am beyond proud of, the DADsquared logo.

We then set our sites on growing our reach and thus the DADsquared Website was launched.

In same "Dreamer" fashion we reached out to famed cartoonist Jay Fosgitt and we are proud to show you the DADsquared Community..

Oh, sure, we still have much work to do on the site.
We will be adding new resources and events shortly.
I am most excited about a feature to help connect families with one another, these connections are a core mission and belief for DS.

So please, Join our Facebook Community, visit our Website and help keep our DADsquared World growing won't you?

DADsquared, Changing the World one Family at a Time!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Gay Dads Night Out by Joey Spinelli

It was Friday night and we just dropped off our 6yr old at the gymnastics center’s “Parents night out”.  Maybe your city has this?  Our local trampoline place does this as well as our gymnastics place.  You pay $25.00 and you can leave your kids there from 7pm to midnight.  The kids get to play all night, they get pizza, snacks and usually they have a lot of friends from school there.  They will even post photos of the kids playing on Facebook.  Sounds great right?  Well it was a tough week of work for my partner and I.  Our little guy had swim practice Monday and Wednesday, yoga on Tuesday, Kumon (after school learning program) on Tuesday and Thursday and art class on Friday.  He needed a distraction too.   We headed to the gymnastics place to drop him off and there was the usual “Ok, dads, kiss me goodbye out here in the parking lot so my friends don’t think I’m a baby”.  Then we got him checked in and we were on our way to enjoy the night ourselves.   We now had 4:55 (4 minutes and 55 seconds) left of our babyfree Friday night.  We headed right to Houston’s.  I really needed a nice, dark, quiet table for two, not three, and I could already taste that veggie burger and fries.  I don’t know why we don’t go to Houston’s anymore, I used to love it.

Well we got to Houston’s, and there was an hour wait.  An hour wait?  Oi, now I remember why we don’t come here anymore.  There is always a wait and they don’t take reservations.  That really pisses me off that chain restaurants wont take reservations.  How are you supposed to plan a night out with your spouse?  Well we are not going to wait an hour just to get seated. “BZZZT!”  Wait, my phone just alerted me that I have a Facebook notification.  I can see on my phone that there is a photo of the kids at gymnastics and my boy is holding a huge slice of pizza.   Great.  I am glad someone is getting dinner.   We are down to 4:12 and we were hungry.  We went to two other restaurants nearby and the same thing happened.  I was just about go give up when my partner suggested we call this Italian place that we had been to before but its kind of pricey.  I was willing to try anything so I called them and there was no wait.  Great, lets head over there.  

We got to the Italian restaurant and gave the valet the SUV.  I hate paying $10.00 to have the car parked but time was a-wasting and I didn’t want to argue.  We got seated to our table and the waiter came over to bring us some water.  I looked at the menu and really, $15.00 for pasta is kind of much, especially when you are a vegetarian and there is no meat in your meal.  I just bought whole grain pasta for .20 cents a box last week with coupons at Safeway.  Why does it cost $15.00 to serve it at this place?  I looked at my watch and we were now down to 3:27.  We both ordered some drinks, an appetizer and pasta entrees.  Don’t you just love eating out with your spouse?  I am always the loser at dinner and here’s why.  I will look at the menu and see something that works for me.  Then Ill ask him about what he’s getting for dinner.  He will usually say something like “Why don’t I get this meat dish and ill have a bite of whatever you get.  Ok, I don’t mind sharing a bite.  So we will order two dishes one with meat and one without.   When dinner gets there, he will try a bit of mine, which usually is surprisingly good to a meat eater who expects vegetarian meals to be bland.  I’ll eat part of my dinner because I am trying to eat smaller meals, but he will eat his meal and the rest of mine.  I of course can’t try his meal because it has meat.  So, I wind up with half a meal, and he winds up with two different meals to eat.  Isn’t love grand?  “BZZZT!”  Oh wait, another FB update, this time it’s of the kids eating ice cream sandwiches.  Great, I just realized that I am still hungry!

We were down to 2:18.   We still had time to go upstairs to the theatre and see a movie.  We stopped at the concessions stand, grab some popcorn and the concessions clerk tells me “Sorry, all out of Bunch-A-Crunch.”  What?  No Bunch-A-Crunch?  Why the hell are the doors to this place even open?  UGH!  Ok, we are down to 1:58.   The next movie to start was “The Getaway”.  This was the usual testosterone driven flick where a guy’s wife is kidnapped and the only way he can get her back is to drive some supped up hot rod around for an hour on the screen.  This movie was just terrible.  I think I hit a new low.  I found myself many times wishing that the car in the movie would come right through the screen and kill me to put me out of my misery of having to watch this horrible flick.  Is this the best role Ethan Hawke could get?  The move sucked, I don’t have any Bunch-A- Crunch and time is running out on our parent’s night out.   “BZZZT “, oh look, another photo of the kids.  Apparently they are all getting Twizzlers and popcorn while they watch “Despicable Me” in the TV room.  I am not happy.

We are down to 0:22 and its time to head over to the gymnastics place to pick up our boy.  Somehow, we just wasted 5 hours waiting in line for restaurants, eating overpriced food, and watching a horrible movie.  And, to top it all off, I’m still starving!  We got our little guy in the car and headed home.  We asked him how his night was and he said “It was great, can we do this again very soon”.   The good thing that happens after every parent’s night out is that our boy falls asleep as soon as he gets into the house.  No arguing about 15 more minutes.  No begging for 1 more story.  No pleading to talk about our day.  Nothing.  He just lies down on the couch and he’s out in less than 3 minutes.

Finally, its after midnight, we are both tired. It’s been a long night and we should be going to bed.  My partner heads to bed, but not me. What am I doing at this very late hour?  Why, I’m updating Facebook of course.  I always feel better about a disaster if I can get people to sympathize with me.   “BZZZT!”

"Who am I? That’s simple. I am a gay parent that’s treated like a second class citizen and I am done taking it. 
Every day I am in the battlefields, in my kid’s school, PTA meetings, swim team, birthday parties with
other parents and I am forcing people to meet me.
Every day I stand right next to them and even if it’s just in my mind, I say “ Look at me will you! I am a gay man, right in front of you. 
I have a partner of 8 years and a 6r old boy. 
My kid is in your kid’s class and will be for the next 11 years. 
I am not going away so now would be as good a time as any to accept me and everything that comes with me."
Joe also blogs at 1 regular joe

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tempered Joy. The (Sometimes) Unspoken Truth About Adoption by Alison Aucoin

Each child welcomed into a LGBT family is a victory. It’s true. LGBT couples must overcome great complications and often incredible sacrifice to bring a very wanted and loved child into their family. When it finally happens, there is reason for great celebration. But if this child is welcomed through adoption, joy untempered by respect for the unfathomable loss the child has suffered misses an incredibly important opportunity.

Recently, two LGBT couples I know welcomed a child into their family through adoption. And while I understand their joy, I REALLY do, I found myself feeling uncomfortable with both couples’ expressions of seemingly unfettered glee on social media. It’s true that they may have had many more complex feelings than they posted on social media. After all, who among us hasn’t put a little positive spin on a story for the benefit of the Facebook universe? But if they didn’t and they completely ignored the hard part of adoption, they did a great disservice to every member of the family.

I’ve often said that waiting to adopt a child is like waiting for an organ transplant. The greatest gift of your life is the greatest tragedy of another person’s life. On more than one occasion the person with whom I shared this sentiment assumed I was talking about the birth mother, and I was, but I was also talking about the child.

Each child deserves to enter the world into the welcoming arms of the person whose muffled voice they heard during their gestation, who shares their DNA. And when that doesn’t happen, whether the separation is at birth, 6 months old, six years old, or 16 years old; whether it’s a result of death, poverty, abuse, youth, substance abuse, or mental illness (maybe even reproductive technology); there is a deep need for connection that no adoptive parent can fill exactly as a welcoming birth parent would. This does not mean that adoptive parents are inferior to birth parents. It means that we are different and the way we connect to our children is different. We cannot look at one another and see the genetic connection. We cannot recount for them how it felt when they wiggled inside us or the pain of birth.

But there is another pain that binds us, if we let it. Because when we truly acknowledge the loss involved in our child’s journey to our family, when we go to that awful place of grief with them, we let them know that they are not alone. And that is what every adopted child needs to know, that no matter how ugly it gets, they are not alone and never will be again.

So I ask couples who are preparing to adopt to celebrate the joy and the victory but leave room for the pain, because it’s through the pain that you get to the greater and sustained joy of parenting a very wanted and very loved child. That’s how they become your child.

Alison Aucoin is the happy single (not co-parenting) lesbian mom of a 5½ year-old daughter she adopted from Ethiopia. She runs her own consulting firm that provides organizational development, fundraising, and grant writing services to non-profit organizations around the country
and also writes for The Nervous Breakdown.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Perfectly Typical Toddler

So I picked up my son from daycare yesterday and was informed that he had been put in his first "Time Out."

We have been attempting this at home with very little success.

He is nearly two and getting him to sit for any lenght of time in any part of the house is next to impossible.

He's a good boy, don't get me wrong, but lately his fasination with our pets has taken a slightly more uncomfortable turn, namely for the dogs.

He has realized that running trucks into them gets them to make sounds he never dreamed possible and that chasing them with said trucks makes for such an awesome game, again, not so much for the dogs.

We've tried the taking away of the truck, (his favorite toy) and calmly explaining the what's and the why's of this terrible punishement but unfortunately we can barely hear our own calmess over the giant sized screams that somehow come out of out tiny little angel.

The screams only stop when he has either exausted himself from the backflips he has been doing or when he notices another interesting toy, perhaps not nearly as fantastic as the truck but hey, a boys gotta do what a boys gotta do.

So I don't get a sense that the consequence is becoming evident to him,
my gut tells me he thinks we are just teaching him that he can have fun with the dogs with all types of plastic devices, not just the truck.

Okay, so where is my story going?

Well you see, as a two daddy family I hear a lot and have read even more about the behaviour that may or may not arise from a child being raised in our type of home.

There are these studies and those studies that tell us that a child being raised by two of the same anythings could have some big issues that show up as they develop.

For us, two men raising a son, I have heard that he could grow to act out in violent ways since he doesn't have that softer more femine influence, (don't say it wink!)

So is that whats happening?
Does it start with chasing animals and end up with lots of tiny little unmarked graves in our back yard?
I know, I'm being a tad dramatic but does it?

So back to yesterday, his school, the time out thing.

Teacher: well daddy we had to put your little one in a little time out today,
Me: Oh, what happened?
Teacher: well he didn't want to use his listening ears today and insisted on throwing the toys around,
Me: really?
Teacher: yes and we explained to him that he had to use gentle touches so that he wouldn't accidently hurt his friends,
Me: well how did the time out go?
Teacher: well he only sat for a bit but he was so much better after he got up and resumed play.

So now I ask her how he's really doing?
how his behavior has been?
is it changing?
(remember my crazy concerns)

And she proceeded to say the best thing that these listening ears could have ever wanted to hear..

Nope, he's just a toddler, a typical toddler, no better, no worse than I've seen in my 15 years here.

And that my friends certainly called for a little shopping spree,
A bigger truck for my son,
and a new doggie gate for the pups!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fall from Grace by Joey Spinelli

It was early one afternoon and my boy said, “Can you play with me?”  “No, I’m working, “, I said.   “No you aren’t, you are looking at Facebook” my boy pointed out. , OK, I did feel a little guilty and decided to play with him for a few minutes. 

He said, “I want to be superman and you can be the bad guy”.  I decided, “Ok, I’ll be Captain Butt Kicker.” “Whose that?”, He asked.   “That’s the bad guy that kicks you in the butt if you get to close to him”, I said.   Well that got him going and he went running through the house. He ran past the one side of the kitchen so I bolted to the other side hoping to cut him off as he was going by.  As I ran to the other side of the kitchen, I put on the brakes, pivoted on one foot and turned suddenly and then “SNAP”, I felt something in my lower right leg pop out of wherever it was supposed to be,  and it hit the back of my leg behind the skin.  I immediately lifted up my leg because the sound of that thing snapping was so horrible, but I didn’t feel anything strange.  Then, I started to lower my leg back down to the floor and that’s when the pain started rushing in.  I had torn something and it was bad.  It was so painful that I could not use that leg at all and I had to hop on one foot to the bedroom.  My stomach was getting that nauseas feeling and I was getting more worried by the second.  I could see my boy was scared.  I told him that I just got hurt and that I could not walk.  He kept apologizing, telling me he was very sorry.  I was feeling very sick now, like I wanted to throw up.  I needed to get to a hospital.  I kept telling him that it wasn’t his fault, but he was starting to cry.   I was now lying on the bed and trying to figure this out.  My boy crawled up next to me, being careful to stay away from either of my legs and was holding on to me.  He was still apologizing and I told him not to worry, I would be fine. “Please get my phone so I can let your dad know that I’m coming to the hospital where he works”, I said.  I sent a text to my partner and then hopped to my keys. I managed to get into the car.  Sitting down I was fine, I just couldn’t stand and it really hurt to even lay down.  I asked my boy to lock up the house and he set the alarm using my phone.   We headed to the hospital. 

I got to the emergency room parking lot and attempted to get out of the car and hop to the front door but it was way too far.  My boy went ahead and asked the attendant to bring me a wheel chair.  I got wheeled into the emergency room.  In what has to be the fastest emergency room visit in history, I got to the desk and they wheeled me right into a triage room.  My partner was there to meet us and I explained the whole story.  The nurse told me that I could have a blood clot so they were ordering an ultrasound.  An ultrasound??  I don’t have a blood clot, I was chasing my son around the house and I tore a muscle.  Well nobody cared about what I was saying, so it was off to the ultrasound.  It was obvious by now that I was not going to get my boy to his swim meet that night, so my partner asked a few people to cover for him and he clocked out and took my boy to the swim meet.  Having to deal with hospital tests with a 6 yr old who wants to touch every gadget he sees is more stress than I wanted to deal with anyway.

After 3 hours of paperwork, ultrasounds and a few Kit Kats, the nurse came over to me and told me that my ultrasound was negative for a blood clot.  I can only imagine how much that cost my insurance company.  They handed me a piece of paper showing that some doctor somewhere looked at my paperwork and said I might have a possible slight muscle tear and that I was free to go home. Slight muscle tear??  Slight muscle tear my ass!!   Free to go home? Are they kidding? I cant walk!!  That’s why I came here.  I turned to the nurse and said, “Hi sweetie, umm I don’t suppose you have a pair of crutches somewhere that I could borrow for a week?”  “Oh yes, sure, I can get you some crutches”, she replied.  How in the world do they think I’m going to get out of this place when I can’t walk?  They handed me a pair of crutches and I realized that they were digging into my armpits, which meant they were not set at the correct height.  I did get as far as the front door of the parking lot before I sat down on the hot Arizona pavement outside and changed the height on the crutches myself.   I was then able to get myself home.  I was about to shut the car off in the driveway, I texted my partner to pick up my pain meds from the pharmacy that the doctor had called in for me.

Once I got home, I was alone since my family was at the swim meet, so I was the only one there, along with Aly, my Schnauzer.  Aly looked like she was starved and ready for dinner but I can’t feed a dog now, I’m disabled.  “Sorry old girl, you will have to wait till your other dad gets home”, I told her.  Then I started assessing the situation.  Ok, I can’t walk, I’m starving and I missed my kids swim meet.  But hey, It’s not the end of the world.  I can grab some Chex Mix and catch up on Days of our lives, right? Wouldn’t you?  Great.   I only have one leg that works so both my hands are occupied with crutches.  I hobble around the Legos and Hot Wheels cars on the floor and make my way to the kitchen.  I grab an open bag of Chex Mix, put the bag in my teeth and with both hands I grab my crutches and head toward the couch.  This was going to be good.  I can watch a little TV, eat some snacks and maybe drift off for a bit. It wont be long now.  I am just inches from the couch.  Then, while I was stepping on the floor, my only good foot stepped right on a Lego.  I opened my mouth and yelled, M*** F***(nobody was home, right) and the bag of Chex Mix that I was holding in my mouth fell to the floor.  Aly, being able to detect food on the floor from 3 rooms away, came bolting to the living room.  She started sliding on the wood floors and bam, she ran right into one of my crutches, causing me to collapse onto the floor.    As I lay there trying to figure out how the heck I got into this mess today, I thought Ok, looking back at this moment, maybe I should have fed her as soon as I got home.  If I look back even further, Maybe I should have just kept chatting on Facebook instead of trying to be a dad to my kid today.  I mean, what in the world is a 48yr old man doing running around the house.  I haven’t worked out since, well since I became a parent.  Hello, my athletic days are behind me! I still have all that baby weight.  I must be insane.  I eventually managed to pull myself on to the couch, and take the Chex Mix away from Aly.  I just sat there on the couch. My whole life flashed before my eyes.  Well, just the parts when I was skinny, so it didn’t really take that long.  I started feeling around the couch for the TV remote.  No such luck.   All I could come up with from between the cushions were; 3 pencils, my IPOD, 2 Dum Dum wrappers and my stapler from my office.  Apparently, these are the things a 6yr old needs when he watches Daniel Tigers Neighborhood.  Not a TV Remote, but all that other crap.  So there I was, thinking this is how it’s all going to end.  I’m hungry, I am in pain, I have a possible slight muscle tear (MY ASS!!) and the only good thing that has happened to me today is that I finally found my lost stapler.  I really needed some good, positive energy right now.  The universe owes me big time.  So, I channeled all my thoughts and focused on something positive happening.  I just wanted positive thoughts in my head.  I thought about little baby birds hatching out of eggs.  I thought about the US Men’s Olympic Gymnastics team winning the gold in 2012.  I thought about Mitt Romney losing the presidential election just like I said he would.  Yeah, positive thoughts only baby!  And that’s when it happened.  The best news I could have heard all day.  The front door opened.  “Hey babe, we are home and we have your pain pills!.  Want to hear about the swim meet?  No thanks, but can you grab me some cold water from the fridge and get me those pills? 

See, you can always count on family to make you feel better after a very long day. 

"Who am I? That’s simple. I am a gay parent that’s treated like a second class citizen and I am done taking it. 

Every day I am in the battlefields, in my kid’s school, PTA meetings, swim team, birthday parties with
other parents and I am forcing people to meet me.
Every day I stand right next to them and even if it’s just in my mind, I say “ Look at me will you! I am a gay man, right in front of you. 
I have a partner of 8 years and a 6r old boy. 
My kid is in your kid’s class and will be for the next 11 years. 
I am not going away so now would be as good a time as any to accept me and everything that comes with me."
Joe also blogs at 1 regular joe