Author: Jefferey Spivey –
Adoption can be a lengthy and exhaustive process for any parent. When an adoptive parent finally gets their child home, it can be an overwhelming but rewarding experience. Welcoming a new child into your family can be fun as you try to match the energy of a toddler. It can also be emotionally daunting as you come face to face with your child’s past. But for many gay men, new challenges arise because of their non-traditional family makeup. The good news is these hurdles can be cleared with a little patience and open communication.
In 2007, The Independent published an in-depth profile of 5 gay couples who’d adopted children in various parts of the country. “The main response we get is surprise,” said Lewis Campbell, a 44-year-old dad. He recalled taking his daughter shopping for a dress and being asked why his wife couldn’t make it. Upon explaining that he didn’t have a wife, the sales clerk quickly became embarrassed. Those types of experiences are common in the lives of adoptive gay dads. And sometimes, the surprise can manifest itself as prejudice.
To overcome awkward, and sometimes hostile, interactions, enlist the support of your local community. Search for support groups like Philadelphia Family Pride and Rainbow Families, which specialize in connecting gay adoptive parents.
Explain Sexuality in an Honest Way
Quite often, your child will come from a family with heterosexual parents. With little exposure to the LGBTQ community, it’s important to help your child understand your family make-up and why other kids may not understand it. Make sure the information you disclose is appropriate for his or her age. Also, be open and honest. The objective here is to make sure your child knows your family is just like anyone else’s—normal.
Normal Challenges of Parenting
Once you get past the difficulty of helping your child understand your family and finding a supportive community, settle into the everyday challenges of parenting. From figuring out how to care for your daughter’s hair to defining masculinity for your son, you’ll face the same issues as any other parent. The difference? You might not have the advantage of a woman’s touch when it comes to more delicate female issues. But you have community for that. And as long as you both have love, you can overcome anything.
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