By an Adopt4Life Member
The pre-adoption period is one fraught—for most pre-adoptive parents—with anxiety and feelings of acute vulnerability. Too often, perhaps, pre-adoptive parents mute parts of themselves, fearing that they will be denied a child. So much of making a family through adoption is in the control of others, so much is based on scrutiny and fear that this scrutiny will deem you unfit to parent. Being a lesbian couple seeking adoption brings, arguably, certain challenges.
I remember clearly encountering the profile of a 12-year-old girl on the Adopt-Ontario website. Without knowing what agency, she was affiliated with, we submitted an expression of interest. When we met with the girl’s worker at an ARE we discovered that she was with a Catholic Children’s Aid Society and were told, to our faces, that the agency would not adopt to same-sex couples. We were shocked. I have no idea whether this is still the organization’s policy, but it certainly has been. It is appalling that public funds can be deployed by an agency that discriminates against same-sex couples. But we did not lodge a complaint, did not bring this to the public eye (something we likely would have done at another time and place). We grieved and moved on, feeling vulnerable and not wanting to make too much of a “fuss”.
Two years ago, we adopted a 7-year-old. Adoption brings with it so much cataclysmic change. For us, we became first time parents filled with the overwhelm and worry that this brings. For our daughter, she became part of a queer family, moving for the first time through the world with two moms.
If there is a silver lining to our story of discrimination during the adoption process, it is that this moment helped us understand how vulnerable our daughter sometimes feels. She has so many identities as native, indigenous, adopted, and a daughter of lesbians (to name just a few). Perhaps it is easy to forget how challenging it can be, particularly for older adoptees—with past life experiences with heterosexual parents—to adjust to living in a same-sex parent family. Our daughter is beautifully open and joyously accepting, something for which I am eternally thankful. But, she lives in a world, and with other children and adults who sometimes struggle to be as open and accepting.
As I watch her navigate that world I am continually struck both by her grace and the grace of others in accepting our queer family. It is something I see when we are touring a future summer camp and she reaches, unabashed, for both of our hands at once. I see it also when, in the midst of frantic pre-game preparations, her coach bends down to adjust some equipment and then straightens up laughing; “What am I doing? You’ve got two moms on this! You are fine!”