10 Things I Hate Being Asked as a Gay Adoptive Parent

This post was originally published by America Adopts on September 2, 2015.


Most people come to parenthood the old fashioned way. Either they light a few candles and say, “Let’s make a baby” or they have one too many drinks and forget the condom.

I am one half of a gay couple which means no matter how hard we try or how many drinks we have we will never be able to make a baby, at least not in the conventional sense.

This does not make us unique; many people find themselves unable to have children the “traditional” way. For some people this means using a surrogate or choosing IVF.

For us it meant adoption.

Adoption was always a first choice and never a last resort. We are proud of our decision to adopt.

Adoption made our family. We sing its praises wide and far, mostly in the hopes of encouraging others to adopt but also to educate people so they stop asking us stupid questions.

10. You mean gay people are allowed to adopt?

Yes, we can even get married now. All snarkiness aside, I’m willing to overlook this question because the truth is that I too was surprised we could adopt.

I thought our only option as two men would be to foster because no government entity was going to allow two gay guys to legally adopt a child.

Fortunately I was wrong and not only were we allowed to adopt a child, we were encouraged to do so by our agency. We now have two children and both of our names appear on their re-issued birth certificates.

9. Did you decide to adopt because of that gay couple on Modern Family?

The funny thing is we’re real people living in the real world so we don’t actually make life-changing decisions because of something we saw on TV.

My husband and I have been together for more than 18 years. We talked about starting a family very early in our relationship – approximately a year after Ellen (the TV character) came out and two years before Will & Grace premiered.

8. What country is your child from originally?

The United States of America. You may have heard of it since you live there. We get asked this question A LOT.

People seem genuinely shocked to learn that we adopted domestically, almost as shocked as when we inform them that there are more than 100,000 kids right in their own backyard in need of a forever home.

7. Couldn’t you get a baby and/or afford a surrogate?

The truth is we could not afford a surrogate. Nor could we afford to go through a private adoption in the hopes of acquiring an infant.

We are hopelessly lower middle class. Not that our limited financial resources played a role in our decision to adopt. The truth is not everyone wants a baby and not everyone requires a genetic connection to their child.

We certainly did not. My husband and I were more than happy to skip the dirty diaper/helpless stage and jump right into the horrible adolescent/helpless stage. And it cannot be said enough, there are children of all ages who need a home.

6. He looks just like you.

This is more of an observation than a question, but we hear it frequently. I’ve decided that people say it because, well, that’s what you’re supposed to say when a parent presents you with a new kid.

He looks just like you. The thing is my tall, skinny, long-limbed, Native American son looks nothing like my short-waisted, stout, full-faced, pasty white Irish ass. Still, I appreciate the sentiment.

5. Aren’t you afraid your kids will be bullied because they have two dads?

All children are bullied. Even the kids with a mom and a dad. I was the product of a heterosexual marriage and still I was bullied from the age of 7 to 18.

Of course rather than allowing my bullies to define me, I used the experience to make me a stronger person. If (when) my children are bullied I hope they will follow my lead and move beyond the tit-for-tat of playground politics.

Of course who’s to say my kid won’t be the bully?

4. Do you think/hope your kid is gay?

I assume people ask this question because as heterosexuals they think/hope/assume their child is straight. My kids are 5 and 9, and imaging them in some pre-pubescent courtship with anyone of either sex is just creepy.

The fact is their sexuality was determined long before my husband and I came into the picture. I don’t care what they are – straight, gay, bi, trans – as long as they are happy.

3. Will you be disappointed if your kid is heterosexual?

I get it…if your kid were gay you’d be disappointed. Get over it.

2. Is it in the best interest of a child to be exposed to your lifestyle?

You’re right. It’s unconscionable to expose a child to the horrors of a stable, loving two-parent home.

1. Which one of you is the Mother?

Funny you should ask. I wrote a book based on that very question. The book is called Which One of You is the Mother? To best answer this stupidest of all questions, I’ll refer you to a passage in the book (and then encourage you to buy the book on Amazon).

“The first time someone asked me that question I laughed, thinking it was a joke. Which one of you is the mother? Well, if we’re talking in strict biological terms then the answer is neither of us because we’re both dudes which means we have guy parts in our downstairs.

Which one of you is the mother? Well, if we’re not talking in strict biological terms then we must be relying on gender stereotypes; therefore, as the more emotional of the two, I suppose that I fit the maternal role.

But then in terms of household duties it’s a 50/50 split: I clean, but my husband does the laundry, and we both do the cooking. My husband is better at dressing cuts and bruises, whereas I just look better in a dress.

And while he delivers award-winning hugs, I am just plain award-winning in my impersonation of Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford screaming, ‘Tina, bring me the axe!’

Ultimately the problem with the question is that it is not the question. They ask, “Which one of you is the mother?” but what they really mean to say is, “Which one of you is the woman?”‘


Sean Michael O’Donnell is the author of Which One Of you is the Mother? It is available on Amazon.


making a list, checking it twice!

I apologize. I hate social media top ten lists. I realize I’m in the minority here because the truth is these lists are incredibly popular. They generate insane numbers of shares and views. I suppose they’re popular because they don’t require much thinking. Certainly not for the lazy writer who counts the top ten list among his top ten best friends. Shame on every last one of you lazy writers for phoning it in and shame on you for reading these lists…and for clicking on those You Won’t Believe What Happens Next videos. (You know what happens next? Exactly what you would expect to happen next.)

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest please enjoy today’s blog post 10 Ways My Life Has Changed Since I Adopted My Sons

  1. People think I’m selfless. This is a common misconception. When you tell someone that you adopted your children they assume you are good person because only a good person would do something so selfless. Whatever. Adopting my kids was the most selfish thing I ever did. Basically I wanted something and I got it and then I ate donuts. End of story.
  2.  I got Christmas back. When I was a kid I loved Christmas. I would stay up all night waiting for Santa Claus. The weeks leading up to his arrival were pure magic and there was nothing better than Christmas Eve, the one night of the year when I believed that anything was possible. But then I grew up and slowly Christmas started to lose its magic. I would still go through the motions, but it was hollow. Then I had kids and poof! Christmas was back. Suddenly I’m a five year old again, staying up all night, and embracing the incredible magic of one perfect night. Is there a Santa Claus? Absolutely.
  3. I have two children. This one is a bit obvious, but every good top ten list has padding. Still, nothing will change your life more than being responsible for tiny people.
  4. I have a stronger relationship with my husband. Todd and I have had our ups and downs over the years, and it’s no secret that in the years leading up to adopting we were in a downswing. Fortunately we got our act together and just when we realized we didn’t have to be together it made us want to be together. I’ve known Todd for almost twenty years and I thought there was nothing left to know about him, but then I saw him as a father and I fell in love with him all over again. Having the boys has made me see and appreciate my husband in a new way. He is, simply put, the best person I know. I admire and love him.
  5. I watch cartoons again. Before the age of ten I watched cartoons nonstop, then I found soap operas and it was goodbye Garfield & Friends and hello General Hospital. Maybe I just got tired of the recycled plots or maybe it was the day ABC cancelled One Life to Live, but I turned away from soaps around the time we adopted Chris. Now I spend my evenings catching up Teen Titans and I leave the goings-on in Port Charles to a new generation of ten year olds.
  6. I played baseball with my son. I hated playing baseball as a kid. My Dad made me play because he thought I should and he thought I should because he knew I was different and I think having me play baseball was his way of trying to make sure I fit in, and for that I thank him. But still, it is a painfully boring game. And even though my kids show no interest in sports (yet) one of the best first days of being a Dad was the day I took Chris to the park and we played catch. It was a rite of passage that made me feel more like his father than a thousand re-issued birth certificates.
  7. I learned patience. I have a temper. I blame it on ten years spent directing plays in the theater and working with needy adult children. I screamed a lot as a director but I only screamed because I knew if I hit people I would probably go to jail. Anyway, parenting children is a breeze after you’ve worked with a gaggle of passive aggressive narcissists (there were exceptions, you know who you are!)
  8. I became a better version of my parents. My parents were very good parents, but they did have stumbles. I have the benefit of their experience and being able to learn from their wrong turns just as I hope my children will learn from my mistakes.
  9. I gained 25 30 35 pounds. The reason you gain weight when you have kids is not because you don’t have time to exercise. The reason you gain weight when you have kids is because you eat all the leftover food on their plate every night. And then eat a half gallon of ice cream while you catch up on Call the Midwife.
  10. I downsized. My weight notwithstanding, I have really cut back in every aspect of my life. My circle of friends is now a short line. I don’t waste money and hours at the mall. I don’t need stuff to make me happy because my family makes me happy. They bring out the best in me that isn’t always there. My husband and children are all I need. Ten years ago such simplicity would have made me run screaming into the night, but now I find comfort in just how easy it is to be happy.

Now please share the hell out of this top ten list as you are required to do by the gods of social media.