I received this comment from Brandi Walton today :
‘What is your response to children who were raised by gays and say things like “I deserved a mom, or I wanted a dad.” “I wish I hadn’t been created just because two lesbians wanted a kid. It’s not fair I don’t know my other biological parent.”
I ask this sincerely.
The more I thought about it, the more I realised no short answer was possible because there are so many questions implied within that one comment. On the one hand there is the issue common to adopted children of not knowing who their biological parent[s] are and hence, not knowing what their own DNA/family heritage may be. That is real. And then there is the plaintive ‘I wanted a dad.’ I adored my Dad so I could hardly ignore that one. But what of :
- ‘I deserved a mom’?
- ‘I wish I hadn’t been created just because two lesbians wanted a kid’?
I believe every child deserves to be protected and cherished and loved. If any of those needs are not met then the child’s parents deserve to be censured, but I can’t see how their gender makes a difference. I also can’t see how their marital status makes a difference. There are bad married parents; there are bad de facto parents; there are bad single parents; there are parents who abandon their children, either to the state or to the care of grandparents or aunts and uncles; there are parents who should never have conceived a child at all because they lack the ability to look after themselves, let alone a child. But in all these sad situations, being gay is not the cause; being gay is simply a fact, like being blond rather than brunette.
Unfortunately, I suspect that Brandi is not talking about that kind of bad parenting; I think she is talking about parenting that makes the child feel ‘different’ to her peers. Not fitting in can be a terrible thing. I know because I have never fitted in.
My parents and I arrived in Australia when I was just four. We were asylum seekers from the Hungarian Revolution of 1957. We did not speak English and we acted ‘strange’. My Mother insisted on bringing me hot lunches and sitting with me at school while I ate. She also brought delicious cakes for the other little kids, but I would have preferred eating sand. But that was nothing compared to her insistence that I wear trousers during winter – ugly, boyish trousers while all the other little girls ran around in frilly skirts and short socks. They almost froze but at least they were…feminine.
And then there was that weird European obsession with learning. While the rest of the kids were having a good time and messing around, my Dad expected me to actually pay attention and learn stuff. Yup, I fit in so well I could have been scarred for life and yet, my parents were hetero.
Now, as a parent myself, I know that no matter how hard I try and how good my intentions may be, I will still get things wrong. But my daughter forgives me because she knows how much I love her.
And speaking of love, I have to say that my Dad was the best Dad on earth. He was a real hands-on father before the term was even invented. He helped me with my homework and took me to ballet classes, taught me to think logically and question everything while holding my hand as I learned how to rollerskate and ride a bicycle. He taught me about beauty and honour and justice, all without raising his hand against me.
My Dad was a good parent, a very good parent, but you know what? Dad was good because of who he was, not because he was a male. His maleness was irrelevant. It’s the person that counts, not the gender.
And finally the question about heritage. I cannot imagine not knowing my parents or the history of our family. Heritage is part of who we are. It’s not everything, but it is an important part and I believe all children should be given that information. The laws are slowly changing to reflect that need, but I can imagine that some children conceived with donor sperm may have a terrible need to know the other half of their heritage. Sadly, the need to use donor sperm is not restricted to lesbian couples and the heartache of the children concerned is a deficit of the law rather than the relationship between the parents.
Finally, I have to wonder whether the child of lesbian parents is so bitter because she lacks a father, or because she clashes with her mother the way I clashed with mine?
My hope is that one day we will all take marriage equality for granted and allow little kids to go to school without being tormented for being ‘different’. I was tormented for looking different; boys like Kenneth James Weishuhn are tormented for being gay. Does any child deserve that? I don’t think so.