What’s an Adoptive Mother to Do?
When Your Child’s Desires Are a Problem
Parenting can be a daunting project under even the most “ordinary” of circumstances. Although we make many assumptions about how our children will turn out, we can fully predict or control little about a child’s future.
My partner and I undertook parenting unusually deliberately. We decided to adopt two siblings through social services in our region. Working with an agency that did extensive and intensive training, we knew our children would come with some history of neglect and/or possibly abuse. After two years of thought, training, soul-searching, and angst, we adopted biological brothers in whose history DSS had found little evidence of serious abuse. Unfortunately, the history was there, but no one in “the system” yet knew.
Being queer ourselves and living in a deliberately queered environment, we had already given thought to the possibility that these children, like any, might evince queer desires as they grew up (they were nine and four when they came to live with us). What we have found is that there is more, and different, that is queer here than we ever suspected. That is, given a broad understanding of queer as nonnormative with regard to gender, sexuality, and/or desire, parenting has turned out, for us, to be quite a queer enterprise.
In this essay I explore the problematics of mothering/parenting when one’s children exhibit desires that are queer in ways, and as a result of events, that cannot be celebrated. This is a difficult topic for many reasons, not least