Getting the Marriage Conversation Right–Responding to objections

Nicole asks some important questions that I thought it might be helpful to respond to in a post.  Here comments are in italics and my comments are interspersed.

So what about the gay or lesbian couple who doesn’t *want* to have kids? Can we deign to let them marry? Maybe have a sticker on their marriage license: “no children were harmed in the making of this marriage.”

DR. GREG:  LOL.  That’s a cute idea in theory.  But do you hear how discriminatory and patronizing that is?  “Yes, yes.  You’re equal–as long as you promise to never have kids.”  Even if you could do this to couples (and you can’t) a couple could change their mind at any time.   How do you hold someone to the promise to never have children? The very idea ends up being too discriminatory and unfair to implement much less reinforce.


I also find it a bit disingenuous to couch this objection as “think of the children!” and insisting that no child raised apart from their biological parents can possibly feel “whole.” There are hundreds of thousands of children happily being raised in loving, supportive, adoptive families who I dearly hope are not exposed to this line of reasoning. Maybe the reason people wind up feeling “less than” is because we keep saying their families aren’t good enough?  As an aside, this feverent insistence on the irreplaceability of birth parents does not support the prolife goal of adoption as a response to unwanted pregnancies.

I don’t know if you are an adoptive parent.  I am. I’ve also been involved in foster and adoptive care for over 30 years.  The fact is, my wife and I are working tirelessly to make sure our child never feels a lack of anything in her life, but the truth is, at some point, no matter how awesome you are as an adoptive parent, you are going have to respond to questions like, “Why didn’t the people who gave birth to me want me?”  Or, “I wonder what the people who gave birth to me were like/look like?”  “I wonder where they are now.”    We all want to know where we’re from.   Our daughter is a very happy, talented, intelligent,  and well-adjusted kid, but my wife and I have also had to prepare ourselves to respond to questions and address a pain that our daughter will have to confront that children raised with their biological parents never have to address.

None of this takes anything away from the beauty of the gift of adoption.   Adopted children are amazing kids and adoptive parents are remarkable people (ahem, if I do say so myself), but if you are an adoptive parent you cannot deny your child’s right to ask questions–and get sensitive answers–about his or her origins even thought you commit yourself to doing everything you can every single day to mitigate the ache those question reveal.


I hope that helps.  I invite other readers to comment, criticize or play devil’s advocate.  I love a challenge.   Incidentally, the new comment system on Patheos requires me to approve all comments.  I actually have a life, so I only check for comments once or twice a day.  If you don’t see your comment  right away don’t assume I deleted it.  People who write to complain that I deleted them before I even read their comment are annoying and will be deleted for the crime of irritating me.   Be thoughtful. Be patient. Or get canned. That is all.

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