By : Adopt4Life Community Parent
Gender. Seemingly one of the most important questions to ask expecting parents. Boy or girl?
Gender takes on an even greater importance for adoptive parents because in many cases, particularly with overseas adoption, parents are given a choice.
Our adoption journey to Kazakhstan began with a call that we had been matched with a baby boy. We were so excited to share our the news that we started a blog titled “It’s a Boy!”
Upon our arrival in Kazakhstan our adoption coordinator asked my husband and I as well as 2 other adoptive families to meet her in the parking lot where she advised us that there were 3 children available for adoption. We would have to decide among us, in a parking lot, which child would become ours. We were not shown pictures, given medical background, advised of age or race. The only determinant was gender. There were 2 girls and 1 boy available.
As it turned out we ended up with a girl which was perfectly fine as we really didn’t have a preference. After a 4 month long adoption process we returned to Canada with our beautiful daughter.”
At 2 1/2 when paternity leave was over we found a great daycare. We would chuckle at pick up time to find our daughter always wearing a cowboy, prince or ninja costume and her best friend (a boy) always in the princess dresses. It was around this time, at 2yrs old, that our daughter started insisting that she was a boy. I looked it up online. Gender dysphoria. Most kids grow out of it...phew!!
Then at 3 1/2 yrs old my beautiful, perfect baby said these words to me “Mommy, when you went to Kazakhstan you got the wrong baby. You were supposed to get a baby with my face and a boy’s body.” My heart broke. “No baby! No! Mommy got the exact baby that she was supposed to get. Mommy and Daddy love you regardless of your gender. We will be your team and we will help you be your genuine self in every way possible. Always.”
We were blessed to have a wonderful and knowledgeable paediatrician. She referred us to the Adolescent Clinic at CHEO (children’s hospital) where Canada’s best transgender support team practices. Our child’s “team” just got bigger and smarter. We knew we were in the right hands.
After a few visits we were told that up to 75% of children with gender dysphoria (a mismatch between biological sex and gender identity) will eventually revert back. There are no statistics to indicate how many of those kids revert back to biological gender due to pressure or fear of living as a transgender person. We were also told that we should not expect our child to revert as she (he) hit all markers for a transgender person. We knew what that meant for our child, we had done our homework.
Transgender kids face the same forms of discrimination as other LGBTQ people which is horrendous and unbearable to even think about. But it was the statistics stating that 40% of trans people will attempt suicide that had us worried that any decision we made regarding our child’s gender presentation could potentially be a deadly mistake. Do we keep our child’s appearance fairly neutral to alleviate the stress of constant questions about gender, in other words just coast for a couple of years? Or do we face this head on and transition our child over the summer between kindergarten and grade one? We met with the team at CHEO to help us decide.
Turns out it was never our decision. It was up to our child. We were told to follow his lead, accept and support his gender as he currently expresses it. In Dr Feder’s words “ we're talking about the kid in the moment, not the kid four years from now. So the issue is how do you support that child where they are now. And you do that as you would for any child, by trying to support them 100 per cent: love them, care for them, nurture them, praise them, and really try to bolster their self-esteem.”
I think this advise is profoundly important for parents/caregivers of all children whether LGBTQ or not. Love and support your child for who they are right now....simply beautiful!
By the way it appears that our blog title was correct all along .... our child was a boy after all!
This June, Adopt4Life shares stories from those touched by the issues in and around LGBTQ2S+ as we close in on Pride, and further explores FNMI narratives in light of National Aboriginal History Month.