Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU'RE ADOPTING: Building a Family Should Be a Blessing, So Let's Get the Headaches out of the Way

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU'RE ADOPTING: Building a Family Should Be a Blessing, So Let's Get the Headaches out of the Way

Article excerpt

IN MY HOME, everyone is adopted--except me. That includes my loving partner of 20-plus years. Together we've raised two wonderful children. Parenting shaped me into the person I am today and it made our relationship stronger. Adoption is not an easy process, but I hope my experience can help guide yours.

FLEXIBILITY IS KEY

Maybe your original choice was the metaphoric turkey baster but it didn't work, or you spent thousands of dollars on artificial insemination or a surrogate. When I was single, my first inclination was recruiting men for sperm; but, wouldn't you know it, they all wanted to sleep with me. I quickly decided not to participate in the birthing process and began the quest to adopt--and fell in love with my partner along the way.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Back then, there were no queer-identified groups for future parents, so I attended classes as a "single" woman. Now there are many resources and agencies to help you navigate the trends, with affordable classes that explain the difference between domestic, private, and international adoption. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC.org) also has an All children--All Families initiative and offers a list of queer-friendly agencies around the U.S.

I did a foreign adoption during an era of ambiguous laws--so much so that I took my brother with me when it was time to pick up the baby. It was painful to leave my partner at home, but we didn't want to take any risks. Some lesbians went together and pretended they were friends or sisters, but putting on a charade was not comfortable for me. Since then, several countries have made government rulings against queer adoption, including single men and women who cannot prove their heterosexuality.

LOOK AT YOUR OWN HOMOPHOBIA

When I look back, I'm glad I can laugh at the memory of taking down my Egon Schiele watercolor of two naked women embracing, and replacing it with a Matisse poster of goldfish before my social worker's first visit. I was afraid of having anything that hinted at eroticism on my wall. My adoption report needed that social worker's approval, and I needed her green light to complete my paperwork before I could head overseas.

Although you'll be judged and evaluated, nobody is going to be looking in your underwear drawer. I overcompensated by buying conservative beige clothes and over-bathing my dog. …

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