Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by one of IAC’s waiting adoptive couples, Lance Klug & Juan Beltran, on being two dads and fulfilling the “mom role” as parents.
It hasn’t happened yet, but judging from all of the literature I’ve read in the first year of our adoption journey, I know the question is coming. Some gay dads find it offensive and get defensive, others struggle with the question themselves. For me and my husband, it was something we talked through extensively when we first started thinking about starting a family. It’s a loaded question filled with complexities, but by the end of our conversation the answer was obvious.
I like to think of myself as a natural nurturer. I was raised primarily by my mother, although my sister (two years older) and my aunt (my same age) never hesitated to impart their wisdom at every turn. And my grandmothers? Let’s just say the world has never seen two better ladies! All of that nurturing of me had to have rubbed off on me, right? The open expression of emotions sure did, as well as the unconditional love and the reassurance in knowing that I always had a soft place to land. That closeness, ease, and sense of belonging is something I value and something I know I can provide to our son or daughter. That, plus plenty of hugs and kisses that make children feel so safe and valued; I got them and I’ll give them.
Does that mean I’ll be the mom?
Actually, there’s no one more intuitive than my husband at sensing needs and responding with the perfect mix of validation, comfort, and support. I think he got it from his mom and dad, who raised him and his twin brother with so much love and affection. My husband tells me about how he used to see his mom get up in the middle of the night to make sure he and his brother were still covered and warm. I know he’ll do the same with our little one because he plays that caretaker role so well. His sister tells a story about when they were young and she was feeling so down about herself on the morning of school pictures. She never asked, but he picked up on her feelings and fixed her hair (yes, we’re gay) so she “felt beautiful,” as she recalls. He had no idea how much his affirmation meant to his sister until a few years ago when she shared the memory with us. My husband has this innate ability to make you feel special and I know our child is going to thrive in the comfort of that connection.
So that’ll make him the mom, right?
Not quite. You see, our child will already have a mom; the woman who gave birth to him or her. The reason we decided to pursue open adoption is so our little one will know exactly where he or she came from and about the courageous, selfless decision that ultimately created our family. We hope the birth family becomes part of our extended family and we plan to nurture that connection through pictures, open dialogue, and consistent contact.
As for the day-to-day nurturing stuff that evokes the warm mom memories in so many, we can do all of those things. Our lives have prepared us for this moment and we know we can provide our son or daughter with such a loving, happy, and stable home filled with precious memories of their own. Traditional gender roles dictate that mom is usually the one who wipes the tears and makes the sandwiches. But what about all of those stay-at-home dads? The single fathers? The widowers? The same sex couples? Research has shown that male primary caregivers actually develop dual brain patterns and develop the mindset most often associated with maternal care taking.
Of course, our child deserves strong female influences and we happen to have some amazing women in our lives. Not just moms, grandmas, aunts and cousins, but also a number of close female friends that are more like family to us. The “Will & Grace” phenomenon is very real! There’s a special relationship that develops between a gay man and his female friends; an almost sister/brother-like bond. We’re blessed with so much love and support from this network of family and friends. Even better is the knowledge that all of this love is waiting for our little one – whenever he or she arrives!
So, when we hear that inevitable question of “which one of you is the mom?” we’ll be ready with the simplest answer possible: Neither of us. And both of us.
To learn more about Lance & Juan, visit their profile at: http://www.iheartadoption.org/users/beltranklug