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.
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3 Responses to Perspectives

  1. Rose says:

    Hi my name is Rose. I am an adopted kid and I agree with Jack by parents should be their for their kids no matter what the problem is.I do not think these parents should’ve gave up the kid because they found out he was gay.There is nothing that should make a parent give up their child no matter how bad..Like Jack said those parents were phony baloney. I wish the kid good luck with his life and I hope he finds someone to love.

  2. Mom says:

    I feel that it is unfair to catergorize all adoptive parents who have found themselves in the position of having to surrender their children back to the system as “phoney boloney”. It is a horrible and painful experience and when you experience it with NO HELP or SUPPORT it is something that scars some of us for life. Although in this case I do agree it was the wrong thing to do I want to caution some who might find themselves judging others when they have not walked in their shoes.

    • My rule is not to respond to comments, in general. I am making an exception here because I have tried to reach you through your email address that came with your comment, but it bounced back to me. One of the great disadvantages of writing a blog is that I know nothing about the people who comment, while they know so much about me. As you see, I have read your comment and posted it this morning. However, the way that the blog works is that the comments show up under the post that they are referring to. So your comment will show up under a posting that is over a year old and therefore most who read the blog, but don’t subscribe to the comments, will never read it. Same as my response here. However, your perspective is one that I would like to respond to in a new posting, as soon as I get a chance.

      But before that, I wanted to connect with you – if you are willing – to hear what apparently is your own experience of having to surrender a child you adopted, presumably a foster child. Your point about getting no help or support anywhere resonated with me and is something that I am working with constantly. As a matter of fact, we, at my agency, are in the process of responding to a federal request for proposals, to train pre-adoptive parents and their workers, in every county in the state over the next five years (NY – I have no idea where you are from) to avoid exactly this kind of heartbreak for families and children. Our hope then would be to roll it out nationally so no one ever again has to experience whatever it was that led you to write what you wrote last night.

      Again, if you are willing to engage with me, I would be very grateful to hear your experience. (Obviously, I would use none of it in the blog without your permission.) Thank you for writing. Getting people thinking is the purpose of the blog and your comment will certainly get that going.

      Jack Brennan

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