I met a foster kid recently who is seventeen. I am very grateful to him for giving me permission to write here about our conversation.
He’d been adopted out of the foster care system when he was ten. But a year or so ago, his adoptive parents had surrendered their parental rights and given this young man back to the system. His understanding of why? Because he was gay. I knew that that reason, by the definition of parenthood that I live by, was nonsense.
I asked the young man when he realized that he was gay. He told me he’d discovered such feelings inside him when he was ten. I asked him to remind me when he’d been adopted out of the system. He said: ten. I asked him if he was still gay at eleven. He said he was. I asked him if he was still adopted at eleven. He agreed that he was.
I asked him if he was still gay when he was twelve? Yes, he told me. I asked him if he was still adopted at twelve. He said he was. I asked him if he was gay at thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. He was. I asked if he was still adopted at thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. He agreed.
So I told him that the reason he’d been surrendered couldn’t have been because he was gay, because all those years that he was gay, he’d still been adopted. He then told me that his adoptive “parents” had found out that he was gay when he was fifteen and that’s what led to the termination of his adoption.
Exactly. The termination had nothing to do with him being gay. It had to do with his “parents” having to respond to their discovery of his sexuality. And they chose to respond to their interpretation of what being gay meant to them, by getting rid of him.
Adoption, I pointed out to this young guy, like all parenthood, is about an adult making an unconditional, irrevocable, permanent, and final decision to claim another person as their child. Unconditional means no conditions…..irrevocable means “no backsies”……permanent meant that he would not have been given back to the system….and final meant exactly that: final. Which is why the court adoption hearing is called the finalization of the adoption.
His “parents” were never his parents, I told him. They were, instead, what a younger child might call “phony baloney.” They had obviously withheld their full claiming of him as their child. And that is entirely, and solely, their responsibility, having nothing to do with him, straight or gay.
This blog is entitled “Perspectives” because it is my intention to offer exactly that: perspectives. I hope that reading it triggers some thinking on the part of the reader. It is dedicated to my aunt, the late Rita Faivre, who gave me – and lived her life with and from – a perspective of responsibility that I have never seen anywhere else. I am grateful to have it, and grateful to her, my second mother, every day of my life.