(GP Editor’s note: This is the first of a three part series on Gay Adoption & Parenting by frequent GP commenters “V The K” and “Michigan Matt.”)
Maybe you saw Glenn Reynolds’s article on TCS from about a month ago, which was subsequently reprinted on OpinionJournal (The Parent Trap: How safety fanatics help drive down birthrates). Reynolds’ thesis is that having children in our litigious society carries too much risk, too much cost, and not enough benefit.
“(P)arenting has become more expensive in non-financial as well as financial terms. It takes up more time and emotional energy than it used to, and there’s less reward in terms of social approbation. This is like a big social tax on parenting and, as we all know, when things are taxed we get less of them. Yes, people still have children, and some people even have big families. But at the margin, which is where change occurs, people are less likely to do things as they grow more expensive and less rewarded. “
Over the last century, social mores have shifted. In the past, raising families was not just encouraged, but expected. In the present era, especially among secularized elites, the predominant social pressure is against having children, or even marrying at all. Many married couples eschew parenthood. In stark contrast, gay and lesbian couples and singles are incurring even greated economic, social, and emotional costs to build families, sometimes in the face of powerful opposition.
Michigan-Matt and his partner completed the adoption of their son after an expenditure of tens of thousands of dollars, and after gut-wrenching disappointments. Their first attempt at adoption failed when the unwed birthparents opted to cancel after their son had already lived with Michigan-Matt and his partner for 17 weeks.
“There was no warning. No notice; the decision was entirely theirs and the grandparents –who we later heard, despite what they said earlier, opposed ‘giving up their first grandkid to some fruits’. They went into court, the judge granted them custody and it was over,” Michigan-Matt recalls. “It took us three years to get over that deep pain, ultimate failure of trust, and the violation we felt at the reversal.”
The second adoption attempt was successful. Michigan-Matt and partner were even allowed in the delivery room and received their newborn son into their arms from the womb. Michigan-Matt says, “It doesn’t get any better than that. Talk about bonding! The birthmom said she heard about us through the social worker and wanted to help us heal.”
Their next child will be provided by a surrogate mother. They’ve carefully picked the birthmom, hired her to carry their son or daughter to term. The impregnation has occurred and the due date is Nov 11th, Michigan-Matt’s birthday. So far, everything is going well.
Their 3 year old son is looking forward to the first of “ten or fiftwennie brothers and sisters.” Michigan-Matt still isn’t sure what number translates into “fiftwennie” but is interested in continuing to grow as a family. (Take that Reynolds!) The estimated cost of this adoption: $71,000-97,000.
Four years ago, V the K, set out to adopt his foster son in South Carolina. The county adoption agency threw every imaginable hurdle in front of him. To cite the worst example, the county’s Guardian ad Litem (GAL) office replaced the original GAL assigned his case with a notoriously homophobic South Carolina state senator; a man who in every legisilative session has tried to push bills outlawing gay adoption and foster parenting, who, strangely enough, had no prior experience as a GAL.
The GAL is responsible for making recommendations regarding the child’s adoptive placement. Before long, this senator and the head of the county GAL office were pulling VtK’s foster son out of school two and three times a week for “interviews,” during which they pressured him to make abuse allegations. The senator also tried to bribe another family to adopt the boy, and threatened them with obstructing another adoption they were pursuing when they refused to go along.
When he filed his report to the adoption office, it was filled with misinformation and made allegations of neglect. (Whereas all the reports filed by the GAL he replaced had been outstanding.) It is VtK’s belief that this jackass politician was trying to drum up an abuse incident so he could stoke public outrage and get his anti-gay adoption bill passed.
The county adoption agency fought the adoption even up to the final hearing, and insisted on a lot more requirements than a married couple would have gone through. Eventually, with enough lawyering, determination, and faith, VtK and his adoptive son prevailed. VtK has since adopted another son (relatively smoothly) and intends, God-willing, to adopt again.
A case could be made that subjecting gay couples and single parents to more scrutiny than traditional married couples is legitimate. After all, as we’ll discuss in the next essay, parenting outside the traditional nuclear family carries its own unique challenges. But the point is, we go through a lot more than most married couple do just to have children.
– V The K and Michigan-Matt