Motherless Children

While we wait for the Supreme Court to rule, the New York Times publishes an amazingly sensitive column by a gay father on what his well-loved child misses:

“SOMETIMES when my daughter, who is 7, is nicely cuddled up in her bed and I snuggle her, she calls me Mommy. I am a stay-at-home dad. My male partner and I adopted both of our children at birth in open domestic adoptions. We could fill our home with nannies, sisters, grandmothers, female friends, but no mothers.

My daughter says “Mommy” in a funny way, in a high-pitched voice. Although I refer the honors immediately to her birth mom, I am flattered. But saddened as well, because she expresses herself in a voice that is not her own. It is her stuffed-animal voice. She expresses not only love; she also expresses alienation. She can role-play the mother-daughter relationship, but she cannot use her real voice, nor have the real thing.

I have seen two types of arguments in the discussion on gay adoption. The first is the civil-rights argument. . . . More child-focused, but still reflecting the values of the grown-ups, is the second argument: the good-enough-parent idea, as developed in the series of research papers on gay and lesbian adoption of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. The executive summary of the 2006 report states: “Social science research concludes that children reared by gay and lesbian parents fare comparably to those of children raised by heterosexuals on a range of measures of social and psychological adjustment.” Kids of gay dads (and lesbians) do just as well as kids of moms and dads, the research shows. Being a good-enough parent counts for gay people, just as it does for straight people.

What is not expressed in both arguments, which I consider valid, is the voice of the adoptee — my daughter’s voice, that is. Her awareness of being a motherless child is not addressed. I don’t want to appropriate our child’s voice, but I want to speak up for her, and her older brother, and I want to acknowledge their feelings.”

2 comments
AmaryllisZ
AmaryllisZ

Maggie, when you quote another article, but remove portions of the text, it is customary to denote that by putting ". . ." in between the paragraphs so the reader knows you edited the quoted piece. The pieces you removed tell an entirely different story from what you portray here.

Bob Koomans
Bob Koomans

Now THAT was a SAD article.... as a Father to 15 Children, who had their Mothers with them all along, in 2 marriages, i felt deeply for that poor little girl... and all the children who have been denied a mother via Gay Marriage Adoptions --- OR death of the mother. I know how I felt to be left home with MUM only to look after us, when dad disappeared.... always hoping for his return... always wondering "was it me and my brothers" who caused the loss. But never blamed mother. She went through hell to protect us, but still tried to take dad's place - in the way he behaved. But, it was a false representation, i know now. I missed my dad, and by the time I found him again, he was very old, and I was a Fireman in the Air Force at 35yrs of age. Poor old guy was in the beginnings of Alzheimer's and could barely recognise me. I just felt so bad that I had missed all those years with him, yet still loved my mother for her care and protection, and even for forcing me to keep on at school. Mothers AND Fathers of the proper gender are most important I believe, and we lack that balance of attitudes and understanding if brought up WITHOUT them.