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A rare look at same-sex adoptions

by Jessica de Bruin, staff writer


It took the usual nine months for the proud parents to welcome their first child into their lives, but not in the traditional way.

“ We knew we always wanted to have children. It was one of the things that brought us together,” Cory, 41,said, as he spoke for him and his partner of 10 years, Mike, 45 (names were changed). They now have two sons from Southeast Asia, both of whom were adopted as infants. Jon is 5, and Danny is 3.

It took Cory and Mike, "Daddy" and "Papa" respectively, nine months to adopt Jon, and then 11 months for Danny.

They adopted the boys through second-parent adoption (co-parent adoption), which is basically a legal procedure that establishes legal rights for same-sex couples. Since Hawai‘i has no law supporting co-parent adoption, it was approved through a trial court judge.

Mike, a doctor, decided to adopt the boys under his name because his professional background would make the process easier for them.

“ I think we go through all the same things that any parents would go through,” Mike said. As with other parents, they had many of the same concerns. Some were heightened for Cory and Mike because of their sexual orientation.

Cory said that their main concern had always been, "Would we be accepted as a family?" Other concerns focused on the boys: would peers in school accept them? Would they have an identity crisis? As Cory simply puts it, “We were worried for the kids.”

They also didn’t know what to expect from their gay friends when they decided to adopt. “Once you adopt, you won’t see much of the majority of your gay friends,” said Cory. He explained that this is because their priorities changed. They still talk to most of their gay friends, but they aren’t as close, because their lives are busier.

As it turns out, Cory and Mike have had very positive reaction from the community.

Friends, co-workers, teachers, and the like have all been very loving and supportive of their family. Jon goes to school and gets along great with his peers, Cory said. And he added that Danny is very happy at a preschool play group, which Cory also attends with the other moms and their children.

The boys are happy and Cory said he has only one complaint: “If Danny sits down at circle time, it will be a blessing!”

But there are people in the community who have reservations about same-sex adoption. Whether one is uncertain, or against it, there are questions: how healthy is it for children to grow up in a family with only one gender, even if one plays "mom" and the other "dad"?

“ [Speaking] as a psychotherapist, it is not a good idea….You need the balance of the two sexes,” said Dr. Vernon Thompson, a licensed psychologist (1972) who works for the Associates for Christian Counseling in Honolulu.

Other than the need for both sexes for a child to be healthy, the most prominent concern is that the child/children will become gay since their parents are. To that, Cory answered, “I was raised by two straight parents, and I am gay.”

Although Cory and Mike have had very positive responses to their family, the people of the United States are still debating gay and lesbian marriages or civil unions.

The Bush Administration has called for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, even though both houses of Congress have defeated measures proposing it.

Some see endorsement of the amendment as “the linchpin in efforts to protect marriage in our country.” So said Dr. James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family. “The president understands that families formed through the union of one man and one woman are best for America and America’s children” (Beliefnet 2004).

On the other side, Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of ACLU, opposes such an amendment, saying: “Gays and lesbians are our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends….Amending the constitution to deny them the same rights we all take for granted just isn’t very American” (Beliefnet 2004).

But while the American people are fighting that fight, here in paradise Cory and Mike and Jon and Danny are a family living out the American dream in a beautiful Hawai‘i Kai home overlooking Moanalua Bay. They have just added a new addition to their family, Purdy, a boxer adopted from the Hawaiian Humane Society.

Just how same-sex family life will affect the boys is undetermined, but for now they are loved and provided for by two men who, no doubt, want only the best for them. They live their lives like the rest of us, planning family vacations and which schools they want their boys to be enrolled in, and then determining whose turn it is to help them shower before bedtime.

What may be a complex situation to others, Cory simplifies: “Mike and I are both very private people. We try to have a normal family life. This one just happens to have two dads.”

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