Pioneering today’s familyRaising Alek Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
Social Chaos: Raising Alek
For the past few weeks, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with some of my dear friends to have some serious “coffee talk” on parenting, and I have to say it’s been a real thrill. Despite many being long-term friends of mine, we seldom get the opportunity to sit down and really talk about the nuts and bolts of parenting.
It’s a source of continuous inspiration and motivation for me to talk to these gay parents, and hear their stories, learn of their fears, hopes, struggles and courage that they have as pioneers of today’s modern families. Gone is the 1950s concept of what a family is, as these amazing people usher in a new era of tolerance, acceptance and what it really is to be a family.
I am proud to introduce to you my good friends, Ken Dillingham, Anthony Jones and their beautiful daughter Chloe.
Sam: How did you go about becoming a parent?
Anthony: My partner, Ken, and I did a local private adoption. We hired an attorney … to introduce potential adoptive parents with birth moms looking to place their unborn children. Ken and I created a family album with pictures and descriptions of our families and our backgrounds and gave it to our attorney.
The birth moms are then invited to the attorney’s office to view various family albums and to pick the adoptive parents for her child. This process was favorable to our birth mom as she was in a position to decide which family would raise her child.
Sam: What are your thoughts on the process?
Anthony: The private adoption option worked best for us. However, there are many other options to consider, such as surrogacy, private adoption through an agency, adoption through the county, foreign adoption and foster parenting. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages.
Sam: How have politics changed your parenting and your family since the day you first became a dad?
Anthony: Our politics have not changed that much due to being parents. However, we are more resolute in our political opinions than we were before we were parents. Having a child has made us realize that the actions of today’s politicians have long-standing consequences and we want to make sure that our daughter grows up in a tolerant and accepting world.
Sam: Would you say that being a parent has made you an activist for gay rights?
Anthony: Yes. Being a parent has caused us to be more involved in equal marriage rights, the rights of gay people to adopt, the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and any other legislation that involves the unequal treatment of gays and their families.
Sam: What message do you believe is the most important message that the gay community needs to know about parenting?
Anthony: As gay parents, being that we must proactively take steps to have children, (i.e. we don’t get pregnant accidentally), the most important message that I can relay to the gay community is that parenting will be the most rewarding and the most difficult endeavor you will ever undertake. Becoming a gay parent cannot be taken lightly.
Having said that, it is also important to know that every little detail of raising a child cannot be planned for. If you think you have your child’s life all planned out when they are born, you may be in for a rude awakening. Just be confident that you will have the ability to deal with a situation as it arises the best way you know how.
Sam: If you had to do it all over again, is there anything that you would do differently?
Anthony: If I had to do it over again, I probably would not worry so much, especially when our daughter was a newborn. Being that our daughter is our first and only child, we did not have a reference point as to what to worry about and what not to worry about.
Sam: To what degree do you think you are a different person today because of being a parent?
Anthony: Being a parent has made me truly appreciate my own parents. As parents, we all do the best we can with what we know. When we learn something new, we improve and move forward with our new knowledge.
Also, by being a parent, I am reminded of what it was like to be a child. Each year, as our daughter grows up, I look back at my own life at that age and appreciate how those childhood experiences make me the person that I am today.
Sam: If there’s one single trait, or piece of knowledge or self-discovery that you have gained from being a parent, what would it be?
Anthony: Being a parent has helped me come to the realization that my actions have a profound impact on how our child perceives and relates to the world. Each and everything Ken and I do as parents is important because it affects how our daughter views the world and how she fits into that world. Our children look to their parents as blueprints as to how they should live their life.
Anthony, you’ve touched on topics here that we could elaborate on and probably fill an entire newspaper. Your wisdom and honesty is a testimony to what gay parenting is all about. Equal rights and complete acceptance of gay families is sure to follow with people like you and Ken leading the way.
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=2139