Sunday, July 03, 2005

Families

Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting two extraordinary men. Although this was not a face to face meeting, but rather through the medium of television. I am, nonetheless, so glad to have "met" them.

Steven Lofton and Roger Crouteau, both registered nurses, had been working in the Pediatric Dept. of a major Miami Hospital. They worked with HIV/AIDS babies and children, a job few wanted when they first started there. They soon came to realize too, that these children were not wanted, period, either through adoptive parent situations or as foster children. They decided to become foster parents. The State of Florida had no qualms about this, and soon Steven and Roger had several infants in their care. They had embarked on the job of creating a "family".

What is this thing we call a family? To most of us what springs to mind is mother, father, and child/children. What would be considered a "traditional" family unit. This is what we find in Webster's dictionary under family:

Main Entry: [1]fam·i·ly Pronunciation: 'fam-lE, 'fa-m&-Function: nounInflected Form(s): plural -lies Etymology: Middle English familie, from Latin familia household (including servants as well as kin of the householder), from famulus servantDate: 15th century1 : a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head.

I see nothing there that specifically denotes gender.

Regardless of how we define a family, there is still the parenting aspect of it if children are involved. So how do we define a parent? Again, our minds lock onto the mother/father tradition. And although Webster's says,
Main Entry: [1]par·entPronunciation: 'par-&nt, 'per-1 a : one that begets or brings forth offspring
it also says b : a person who brings up and cares for another
Please note the description under "B". Many adopted children have been successfully raised by parents who did not "beget and bring them forth".

Back to Steven and Roger and their family.

When it was discovered that one of the children was no longer HIV positive, it freed him up for adoption. Naturally, as they had, had him from infancy, Steven and Roger set about trying to adopt, what, rightfully could be called, their son. Now he was 14 years old. However, the State of Florida, in it's great wisdom, said absolutely not. You can be "foster" parents. You can care for these children, nurse them, worry about them, see that they are started on the road of life, that they do well in school, but you cannot be adoptive parents. We will continue to seek a suitable adoption placement for him (read: Heterosexual couple). Needless to say, however, there is not a huge adoption pool out there, in Florida, or in any state, that wants to adopt a 14 year old black child. And more's the pity.

What is wrong with these people? The arguments put up by those opposed to gay couples adopting children, are just about what you might expect. And more ignorant rhetoric you will never hear. "They are looking to increase their numbers by turning the children into homosexuals." "It is not "normal".
"These children need a mother and a father." "They need to see the other side of the coin." "We will have lesbians putting their daughters into boys sports activities and gays putting their sons into ballet classes." (Bert actually IS taking ballet classes and, as he says, it is AWESOME! He is the only boy and, again he says, there are girls everywhere!) He is a normal, heterosexual male adolescent.

I truly wanted to be physically ill when I heard these pompous, self righteous, homophobic, hypocrites spew their ignorance. If homosexuals raising children disgusts you so, why are YOU not fostering these children? If they are being harmed so, why are YOU not adopting them? Why let them foster children at all? You have totally overlooked the fact that of all those whom you condemn for being gay, had parents, and most likely came from what you would term "straight" homes. In order to be a caring, nurturing parent one has to have received that as a child. Something, I feel, most gay men and women experienced to a great degree in their childhoods to be the wonderful, loving parents that they are. And when was the last time you heard of a child dying at the hands of their "gay" parents. I cannot ever recall such a case. But almost daily we hear of incidents where a child is abused, neglected and yes, sometimes killed, by their parent/s or caretakers.

Although they undoubtedly love you, (after all, you ARE their parents), I shudder to think what "family values" you have taught, or are teaching, your own children. The message in your home is surely not one of love and nurture, but rather one of sanctimonious bigotry. How very sad for you all.

I can look around me and see so many children in traditional homes, with mom and dad, and yet they are being abused and neglected. I can also look at some of the major "family values" proponents who have homosexual children. Our Vice President is one, as well as Phyllis Schafly , and Alan Keyes. One would think that these families are excellent examples of why it is not the upbringing which dictates a child's lifestyle when they reach adulthood.

In the meantime, Steven and Roger have moved to Oregon and have taken in two more children, who, I might add, had been in several "traditional mom and dad" foster homes where they had been abused. Thanks to these two men, they are now thriving and receiving the love and nurture that all children deserve. But, how many more children are there out there that are being denied this greatest of gifts, a loving, caring family.

Children do not question where the love is coming from. They are only concerned about it being there...and in abundance.
We need more Stevens and Rogers.

To learn more about Steven and Roger and their wonderful family...
http://www.lethimstay.com/loftons.html

The State of Florida's DCF (Dept. of Children & Families) manages to LOSE, on average, 3000 children per year, within it's system. It is one of the most inept social services agencies in the country.

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