Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fighting For Families

It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. ~Johann Schiller

It’s safe to say that I enjoy both the humor and bitter irony of life. I also laugh the loudest at myself, because there’s never a shortage of material. Being a wife and mother, hell, just being a human being means that I will always have enough humor and irony in my life to keep things interesting for the remainder of my life. With that said, sometimes the irony is too bitter to swallow. When irony chafes into a blister of ignorance, and then festers into a full blown case of hatred, I have to take a strong dose of self perception, followed by a strong measure of righteous indignation. I hate having to do that. They taste like shit.

My day started off innocently enough. I took Jenda to the park and, armed with a purse full of Capri Sun and the Sunday paper, I planted myself on a bench so I could peruse the news and watch Jenda play. The park has both a playground and a HUGE pile of dirt to climb on, so of course Jenda headed for Mt. Dirtmore, and I settled in to read the paper. And that’s when the bitter irony jumped up and bit me on the ass.

The article was ‘Man Fights Florida Over Gay Adoption.’ That sparked my interest because, let’s face it, there is a very vocal gay constituency in South Florida and DCF is really doing a terrible job. So why would Florida fight against gay adoption? There are so many children living in orphanages, or living in squalor with drug addicted parents. There are horrible stories in the news daily about children who are abused, molested, neglected, killed. Here is a man who has provided a foster home to two young boys since 2004. Why on earth would the state seek to break up the family that they have created after they have been together for five years?
According to the article, the brothers became eligible for adoption in 2006, and no state or local government entity made any move to displace the boys from the foster home. So why now? Why are we still living under some arcane law that decrees that gays and lesbians can’t be loving and attentive parents? I assume that some people feel that perhaps Mr. Gill will somehow try to ‘convert’ these youngsters. Maybe he’ll try to turn them gay.

Nonsense. If they are gay, they were born that way.

I have a cousin who was adopted by my aunt and uncle. They are both professional people, very well off financially, and very devout. They raised my cousin from the day he was born, sent him to good schools, took him to church, and loved him unconditionally as parents should love their children. And they didn’t change him. He is gay. They are not. He has made poor decisions and mistakes in his life as we all do. Being gay is not one of them. Another close friend of mine is a gay father raising two children. They both do well in school, attend church, and they adore their father. By all indications, they are straight. Their dad is not. Who is being converted to a different sexual orientation? It is a flawed argument.

There can be no denying that Martin Gill has changed these two brothers. They were living in squalor with a drug addicted mother who neglected them. Feeling unloved and unwanted, they were placed in foster care with Mr. Gill. And that did change them. They were given a nice home, they were clothed and fed. They received an education. They suddenly had a father. Being a parent, I can imagine Mr. Gill sitting up late nights caring for these boys during childhood illnesses, and comforting them and drying their tears after nightmares I’m sure they dreamt. They were wanted and loved. Sexual orientation be damned; that is being a good parent. To break up a home where they have forged a loving bond with the only real father they have ever known is heartbreaking and maddening. He’s not trying to convert anyone to the gay brotherhood. He doesn’t get a Kitchenaid mixer or toaster oven for every child he brings into the fold, so to speak. He is trying to be the best father he can be, and he is fighting to hold his family together. Good for him, and good for the two brothers that he loves as his own sons.

So I stand by my belief that sexual orientation does not change. My experience is that it is in our nature, not how we are nurtured. But as parents we do mold and shape young lives. In the case of Mr. Gill (which sounds like the title of an Edgar Allan Poe story) he has indeed changed their lives. He has given them a loving home. He has kept these brothers together to ensure that they will always have each other and keep that familial bond. I can only hope that lawmakers will come to their senses and put aside fear and prejudice to think of what is best for these two young men. Mr. Gill not only built a family with these two boys. He has given them a future. He has given them hope.

Those are the greatest gifts a parent can give a child.