(GP Editor’s note: This is the last of a three part series on Gay Adoption & Parenting by frequent GP commenters “V The K” and “Michigan Matt.”
So, adoption is tough, and parenting is tougher. And for gays and lesbians who parent, the costs are higher and the challenges even greater than those Glenn Reynolds describes in “The Parent Trap.” So, why would anyone raise children in this day and age? Why do unstraight people go to such lengths to parent when both the Anti-Family Left** and the Anti-Gay Right have it in for them?
(**The latest manifestation of the left’s attitude toward families is Laura Hirschman’s book-length attack on stay-at-home mothers Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of The World.)
Part of the reason is that parenting is not quite the grim science Glenn Reynolds makes it out to be. Only counting the economic costs and social risks of parenthood doesn’t take into account the social, psychological and, some would add, spiritual rewards that balance or even exceed the costs of parenting.
Children have always served to cement the bond between mother and father, although, unfortunately, in this era of self-fulfillment and easy divorce, it doesn’t often work that way. But for a gay couple, like Michigan-Matt and Michigan-Partner, raising children together deepens their commitment to one another; encouraging each partner to act with maturity, responsibility, and selflessness. These traits, and not selfish gratification, are the real building blocks of long-term happiness.
V the K will admit his kids have caused him a lot of time. money, stress, and lost opportunities. But having them around is more meaningful and gratifying than buying a new Land Rover or attending A-List cocktail parties (at least he imagines so, never having actually been to an A-List cocktail party, but even if they gave out winning lottery tickets and Superbowl rings at those things, he’d still rather have his kids). There is nothing that the material life can offer that compares with sharing the journey of a child to adulthood, watching your kid experience things for the first time, nurturing a young intellect and teaching a kid the things you believe, and a thousand other things you get from raising kids that you can’t get from all the parties, bars, and shopping malls on the planet.
There is also, as described previously, the privilege of joining the culture of families. The culture of families is as different from the culture of gay as 7th Heaven is from Queer As Folk, but if you’re into stability and positive values, it is a welcome change. In the culture of family, you embrace responsibility, not indulgence. You appreciate the value of common sense and home-truths over the stylish cynicism of ironic detachment. Yes, Virginia, there is a Culture of Life, and it is awesome. Being a part of a community that reinforces positive social values is a benefit Reynolds can not quantify, and those who disdain family life can never appreciate.
And, at the margins, there is the consideration that even though government programs have sought to make the family unnecessary for financial security, families and children offer another kind of social security; a hedge against growing old alone, and with nothing to do.
You could still argue that those largely intangible benefits do not seem to balance the scales against the costs and the challenges, especially for the gay couple or sinle parent who has to fight all that harder to make it to parenthood. Perhaps they don’t, but there is still one more thing.
Our litigious, self-obsessed culture has made childlessness the easy choice and parenting the harder one. But those of us who make the harder choice do it for the same reason doctors still doctor when ambulance-chasing lawyers make the practice of medicine a dangerous and expensive minefield. We do it for the same reasons soldiers still soldier, when our media slimes them and our politicians undercut their mission at every opportunity. When a person does right against prevailing social pressure, one reason they do it is to be part of something greater than their selfish little lives. Love is defined by what you sacrifice, not by what gratifies you. Parents create the future in our children, and that is a mission far greater than our selfish wants.
– V the K and Michigan-Matt
(GP Ed. Note: THANKS GUYS!)