In Reality, There Are Only Motherloss or Fatherloss Children?

NEW YORK, June 22, 2013-- Frank Ligtvoet, an adoptive parent wrote an honest piece in the New York Times about the trials of children living with same-sex parents who have been deprived of their mothers or fathers or both. The article is refreshing because he looks at reality from the perspective of the child, rather than the usual way people treat such subjects-- from the interest of the adults.

Today, most people forget that every child without exception has a mother and father, and as much as adults deny it, if they lose one or both, they are in an objective state of privation of something that is common and good. Children are resiliant, and as much as adults try to offer accomodations, reality is undeniable.

When a child loses both their mother and father, the best accomodation is adoption by a man and woman who have fist made themselves irreplaceable to each other in marriage. Only a man can become the father, substituting for the father the child has lost, and only a woman can substitute for the mother. Ligtvoet's conclusion about the need for sensitivity in dealing with children's sense of loss of a mother when adopted by gay men is less than satisfying. In reality, would it not be better to not create such situations to start with? As a matter of justice for children, would it not be better to promote adoption by married mothers and fathers instead?

The Misnomer of ‘Motherless’ Parenting

By Frank Ligtvoet

SOMETIMES when my daughter, who is 7, is nicely cuddled up in her bed and I snuggle her, she calls me Mommy. I am a stay-at-home dad. My male partner and I adopted both of our children at birth in open domestic adoptions. We could fill our home with nannies, sisters, grandmothers, female friends, but no mothers.

My daughter says “Mommy” in a funny way, in a high-pitched voice. Although I refer the honors immediately to her birth mom, I am flattered. But saddened as well, because she expresses herself in a voice that is not her own. It is her stuffed-animal voice. She expresses not only love; she also expresses alienation. She can role-play the mother-daughter relationship, but she cannot use her real voice, nor have the real thing.

I have seen two types of arguments in the discussion on gay adoption. The first is the civil-rights argument. You find this in David Strah’s book “Gay Dads: A Celebration of Fatherhood,” which contains interviews with gay fathers. “The men in this book stuck it out, kept struggling, claimed their rights, and triumphed in the end,” it says. “They are heroic, and their heroism is a gift for their children.”

The books adds: “If coming out was the first step and forming a movement the second, then perhaps asserting our fundamental right to be parents is the third step in our evolution as a community.” The argument is not so much about the voices or feelings of the children but about those of their dads.


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