The adoption agency didn’t come out and ask me about my sexual orientation but they did ask about my “relationship history.”
I truthfully described my previous romantic relationships as
1) not terribly dramatic,
2) not fulfilling enough to warrant marriage, and
3) with men.
It wasn’t until I was in the middle of the required parenting education program dedicated to transracial adoption that it hit me, like a ton of bricks. As the white parent of a black child there was no way I could model being black but it was critical that I model self-acceptance.
Hmm, I thought, how’s that going to work, what with me pretending to like boys and all?
Now you’d probably expect me to describe a childhood growing up attending a fundamentalist church or never having any gay people in my life but you’d be wrong.
My childhood was mostly good and liberal.
My mother was an interior designer so I was very familiar with out people, and I had a cousin who road a Vespa and lived in the French Quarter. As a kid, I thought she was all kinds of awesome.
Now, I can’t say my coming out was without hiccups and struggles with some family and friends, after all I was 40 years old and some people were really surprised, but it blew over before too long.
But even with ample examples of perfectly fine gay and lesbian people in my life and plenty of gay and lesbian friends in college and after, I just wouldn’t take that final step out.
Obviously being closeted played a significant role in the failure of my romantic relationships but keeping such an important part of who I was separate had ramifications in other areas of my life too. You know that term, not comfortable in your own skin?
Well, that was me.
And now I was going to raise a child who was destined to have questions about her identity because of the difference in the color of our skin?
Yeesh, if I kept the status quo, this wasn’t going to go well.
To this day, I still haven’t entirely figured out why I stayed in the closet SO DAMN LONG but whatever, I did, and I have a wee baby girl to thank for getting me out into the light of day.
What is parenting if not an opportunity to have a big ass mirror put right up in your face?
See that crap you’re working like hell to avoid?
How’s it going to feel when you screw up your kid with it?
Yep, that’ll light a fire of personal growth under your butt. Or at least it did under mine.
Though these things can change as kids grow up (sure did in my case) it looks like I’m raising a straight girl. And that’s just fine by me.
My goal in coming out wasn’t to model being a lesbian. It was to model being myself and being a-okay with exactly who I am.
My daughter’s fashion choices and ability to belt out song lyrics, dance with abandon, and blow the hell out of a trombone are all indicating that she’s getting the message loud and clear.
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.