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About those children of fractured families who keep blaming same-sex parenting for their issues...

by Jeremy Hooper

Divorce is hard. From what I understand, at least. Both my and my husband's parents have been happily married for around fifty years, and Andrew and I have a marriage solid enough to make even the toughest rocks jealous. I'm privileged to have avoided being directly touched by such separation, but I've certainly been around divorce enough to know that it can be a difficult thing for both the couple and their children.

It's not an insurmountable difficulty, obviously. Millions of families have weathered divorce in a way where everyone has come out well. In the best case scenarios, the couple finds a way to reshape their relationship into one of friends and coparents, and both remain ever-committed to however many children they brought into this world together. But there are also the other situations where new partners and old resentments lead to strife, or other scenarios where one person leaves the picture altogether. Then there are the other cases still where the process is sometimes painful, but the choice to separate is still the best (or only) option for all involved. Because divorce is not only hard, but often complicated.

Unknown-20Heather Barwick knows the pain of divorce. She writes about it on The Federalist and previously spoke about it in a Christian magazine.

Unknown-1-2Katy Faust felt pain from her biological parents' divorce. She's written about it many times.

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Robert Oscar Lopez has turned his parents divorce and subsequent parental structure into a cottage industry of commentary and activism.

BA Newmark (who assumes the pseudonym of "Rivka Edelman") bemoans her parents divorce in the 1970s.

Dawn-StefanowiczDawn Stefanowicz describes a broken marriage that doesn't seem to have culminated in divorce, but one that did involve outside sexual partners for both parents, sexual abuse at the hand of her father, and a marriage that was doomed from the get-go.

They all have the right to express themselves. Divorce, remarriage, step parenting, infidelity, and particularly sexual abuse—it can all be difficult. And life altering. And worthy of adult reflection.

But unfortunately all five of these individuals, working together as a collective that Lopez has masterminded, have gone beyond pontificating on their own broken structures and have committed acts of intellectual malpractice. All five have taken their own personal stories, which are all defined by bad breaks and neglect and hardship, and misapplied them to same-sex parenting. While not a one of them can fairly say that their lives would be better off if their biological parent(s) divorced and entered into new opposite-sex unions rather than same-sex one, they all go ahead and demand that the homosexuality that entered their lives in carrying capacities is undeniably at root for much anguish—anguish that they must now banish. They write letters against same-sex parenting. The fill conservative outlets with commentary pieces that are often downright nasty (and often mention me by name). They file friend of the court briefs at various levels, and at least some of them have already announced plans to file at the US Supreme Court. And they are doing all this because all five personally want to stop civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Now let's talk about another story. My story. My husband and I started discussing children when we were twenty-three and twenty-five years old, respectively. It was on our second date, at a random diner in Queens, when Andrew and I admitted that we both hoped to be parents someday. We both agreed that adoption was something we had always favored, as we both felt some sort of cosmic draw to the idea that we, both nurturers through an through, were on this overpopulated planet to share our love and commitment with at least some of the many in need. At a time and an age when most of our peers in NYC were focusing on more immediate and playful things, Andrew and I were committing our lives not to just each other, but to also a third (at least).

For the next decade, parenting conversation was always part of our day-to-day life. When we passed Manhattan boutiques, we talked about styles that we preferred for the infant and toddler set. When invited to kids' birthday parties (and there were many), we were the first to jump in the ball pit with the kids, partly because doing so is hella fun, but also because we were on a bit of a trial run of the whole parenting thing. Even well before we were ready to start the process, we would grab spare hours to research adoption and parenting and child rearing and everything else that we knew to be in our future. When it comes to family planning, few have done more than us.

Once we decided to move forward in the adoption process, our commitment was put to the test as fully as it could be. Anyone who has had experience with adoption knows that the process requires potential adoptive parents to open up every aspect of their lives. From financial statements to medical histories to background checks to multiple visits from social workers, our parental fitness was put through every kind of ringer. I couldn't have been any prouder when the judge deemed us "highly qualified." I also couldn't help but think how much every potential parent and child could benefit from a process that puts the relationship and the commitment to the test in such a full and focused way.

Our profile apparently stood out, because we matched in record time. And once we did match with a birth family (after said family first met with a whopping thirty-two other couples), we went into preparatory overdrive. We chatted with the birth mom near-nightly on the phone, and despite the several states separating us, we even made it to more than a few prenatal doctor visits. Crucially, we spent much quality time discussing wants and desires and reasons behind the adoption plan. And when back at home in NYC, Andrew and I put almost all of our summer plans on hold so that we could "nest." We outfitted our home with every last need (and more than a few superfluous-but-adorable items), read every parenting book that Amazon review told us might be beneficial, selected our at-home care team (pediatrician, eye doctor, specialists, etc.), and readjusted our minds as fully as two can without knowing the many unknowables that come with parenting. Nothing that was in our control was left to chance or whim.

On the day of birth, we were blessed to be in the delivery room. I cut the cord. Andrew held her first. We took turns giving her her first bottle. Other than the ultimate parental decision that led us to the most amazing and fulfilling path our lives could ever take us on, no one has ever made a parental decision for Savannah other than Andrew or myself. And this was all at the birth mother's staunch and repeated request. She wanted Savannah to have two committed and doting parents from her very first breath of life, and we were more humbled and more grateful than I could ever put into words to oblige her wishes.

This continued commitment defines how we now live. I scaled back my consulting work so that I could dedicate the bulk of my weekday hours here in this relatively short season of my life toward the bonding and education and general wellbeing of my precious little one. Andrew spends every available second prior and following work with baby girl, sucking up the precious moments that we both know will be all too fleeting. Savannah and I attend an early education program twice a week; Andrew and Savannah take swim classes every Sunday; we are starting foreign language this summer and classes at Alvin Ailey dance in the fall. Our plans are her plans; she is we, thus us.

Like all children's futures, Savannah's is a question mark. She will grow up with her own experiences. She will go through great high and (hopefully far fewer) B Herlju0Aarplmlows. She will have opinions (and by will, I mean already does!) and beliefs and feelings about the world and her place within it.

But one thing is certain: Savannah is being brought up in the world in the same way that millions of adoptive parents have so successfully done before. Savannah's parents were as-married-as-we-could-be for a decade before her birth, and legally married for over four years prior. She became a part of our family not only because an abundance of love and the resources to provide it, but also because of a wealth of intention. She was wanted before she was known; she was cared for well before we ever laid eyes on that gorgeous face or her that most beautiful first cry. She is a child of a well-functioning, highly committed, rock-solid, intact home. Her every (reasonable) want is met; her every last need takes priority over my or my husband's own needs combined.

It is not only the height of offense for these children of what they themselves describe as broken and beleaguered homes to equate their experiences in the latter party of the twentieth century with childhoods like the one that my kid and countless others will know. I want to repeat that millions of children come from homes touched by fragmentation, and they very much thrive, whether in spite, because, or simply apart from it. But this sort of story is not the story that Lopez and Barwick and Faust and "Edelman" and these so-called "children of gays" are trying to sell in order to undermine gay equality. These activists are described deep wounds that informed a Pandora's Box of negatives. And they are misapplying these wounds to situations that aren't even on the same planet as the ones they are describing.

If these conservative activists (many of whom are driven by personal faith) insist on making this their mission for the next few months, then any credible media outlets that run their stories without noting the real fractures at the center of them is operating with disturbing negligence and a rank irresponsibility for their profession. Many of these people despise me in a very weird, obsessive, and often slanderous way [and I mean that literally; I've been advised to file suit against Robert Oscar Lopez for the many times he's made supposedly factual claims about things I've never done (and would never do)], but I can take those slings and arrows. I couldn't care less about them, frankly.

What I do care about is what these activists are trying to do to countless good people and many good homes as they target not only the rights but also they psyches of both the adults and the children who reside within them. It's one of the ugliest developments I've witnessed in my over ten years of doing this kind of work. To me, it sounds like all of these adult children need to step away from the misguided activism and find real help overcoming the heartbreak that came from the fracturing in their lives. Divorce is hard. From what I understand, at least.

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