Sara Whitman

LGBT Families Day: Rights or No Rights, We're Still Parents

Filed By Sara Whitman | June 02, 2008 9:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: gay parents, lesbian moms, lesbian parents, LGBT families

Fall soccer forms due August 8th, doctor's appointments for summer camp forms and dinner cooked- but not yet eaten- by 4PM today. There is a little league baseball game and Zachary is pitching. By the time we get home, the baseball player will be too tired to wait another twenty minutes for the water to boil, the pasta to cook.

It's another day of parenting. Not incredibly exciting or sexy but incredibly rewarding. I often am too tired at the end of the day to remember all that I did- the pick ups, drop offs, uniforms cleaned and lunches packed. But it always feels good.

Except when it doesn't. Like when someone is sick, fighting about doing his or her homework or arguing over a toy.

Today is the third annual blogging for LGBT families day. Most of the posts are in the morning because we're all too tired by night.

I find it fascinating that my neighbors have more rights than I do. I don't see them as particularly better parents- or worse- we're all simply trying to get our kids to bed at a decent hour and everyone to brush their teeth.

The only reason those parents have more rights is because they are heterosexual. They get to be married and recognized federally and internationally. There is no question about parenthood, or rights, or visitation, or inheritance or all the other rights heterosexuals enjoy in this country.

Not for my kids. My kids are being raised in a somewhat unusual family. My wife Jeanine and I decided many years ago that we wanted to have a family. Women all over the country were starting to have kids on their own, going to sperm banks and buying the best fit on paper.

Or at least what we thought was a good fit. It's a complicated decision, to say the least.

We were reading about the ground breaking second parent adoption cases and realized we could have a baby. Raise a family. Things we never thought were possible when we were young lesbians, coming out in a world not so friendly.

We talked about it endlessly. We talked about names, how many and how we couldn't wait to teach them how to throw a ball.

We also talked about what we valued, how we wanted our kids to be in the world. How we wanted strong girls and thoughtful boys. We talked about how we would deal with the homophobia they would face.

We never expected the reality. The long nights of wakeful babies ready to play at 3AM or the time that Ben, our oldest, was so nervous at his preschool graduation he threw up all over Jeanine.

Who had lifted him to her shoulders.

We did not expect to find such an accepting community. Or how our families of origin would open their arms to us. (Especially those Iowa people.)

We prepared endlessly for the "Where's my Daddy?" question. The answer ended up being a simple, but firm, We are your parents, assuring our sons that in fact, they had parents like everyone else.

Because we are the boys parents. It may not have been either of our sperm, but we indeed created these kids. We chose to do it and it was not a simple process. There was no support in the greater world for our decision and while a loving community cushioned us, we were also denied insurance payments. We sought out a LGBT friendly doctor. We researched the best hospital to go to that would accept the other parent without question.

There are no "oops" babies in our house. AND we've always been clear this was a choice, a choice we made not only for ourselves but also for our children.

We've worked hard to create a family to address the kids' needs. To have positive male role models, indeed surrogate dads to step into their lives. Sometimes, we've been right.

Sometimes we've been wrong. Pretty much like every other parent in the neighborhood.

In some ways, it is not any different at all. We all worry about high fevers or the cost of college. How to get them to pick up dirty socks or use the potty.

The only real difference? Some of us have rights, and some of us don't. The irony is, it's not going to stop us from raising families. Being parents.

Or putting our very tired starting pitcher's to bed.

After all... I'm here. I'm queer. And I have to get to bed before 9:30PM or I'll never be able to get up with the kids.


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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 3, 2008 3:05 AM

Sara, I and my partner never had kids, but in our inner city Chicago neighborhood I have seen pretty little girls serve as drug delivery agents for their parents. The fact that those animals have more legal rights than you, is a sickness that needs to be addressed with prejudice. Oh, they can lose their child for being a bad parent if you can catch them, but they create another one and no one seems to object.

Living on a park, opposite a playground, while being a member of "Citizens Assisting Police" and hearing the stories of the boys I sponsored in little league. Believe me, you don't want to know, how bad it can be for kids.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 3, 2008 5:18 AM

What I forgot to say in the above, now that two hours have passed and the memories of all the pain I saw for children have subsided, is that you and your partner are incredible parents. I get so angry whenever anti abortionists scream hatred, but do nothing for the children that are created. Oops, angry again.

In repub conservative circles I have travailed I have been asked if I approve of abortion. I respond that I believe that women do have an absolute right to control their bodies, just as men have a responsibility to control theirs. What I have found so amazing is how few women in this subset agree with me. So I announce to them that I guess that they believe that men have no responsibility to control their bodies, chug my single malt (they do serve the best booze)and depart.

If they could have come up with a logical reason to deprive you of the rights your next door neighbors assume they would have. Love to your family!

It can be really rough being a gay parent, but I think it just makes you love them more. After all, you have to go through more just to be there to start with.

Our Communities most precious gift is our families. You parents are awesome! During service at Agape MCC the first thing that happens is to call our children to the frount where if you listen very carefully to what our pastor is saying you can begin to get a sense of what the message for the day is. Family, its what we are about!

Wait til someone asks who will teach your manchild to shave as though the kid's quality of life really depends on that, and as though nothing else you accomplish counts for anything.

On a personal note, thanks Sara, so very much for blogging this day. I hope non-LGBT see that "gay agenda" for what it is through your everyday life and concerns, know what I mean? :GRIN

oh, leslieK, I'm in trouble. I love the idea of shaving. I am sooo jealous of men with their beards.

but I do know what you mean.