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Florida Queer Adoptions Post follow up, some theory, and some clarifications

By way of somewhat of a continuation of the discussion on my last post, Florida, Queer Adoptions, and the reek of George A. Rekers & a cast of cronies, I decided to pick up O Solo Mama’s comments and write a post in response (as it was genuinely going to take a post to respond.)

Many of my own linguistic assumptions, definitions, and how I view myself in relation to “adoption reform movement(s)” are all things that I had not previously fully spelled out before now.

As I’ve said from the beginning of this blogging, this is a continual process of coming in in the middle and having to back up back out to what I really mean when I say such and thus. Hopefully this post will add some clarification.

I’ll quote portions of her comments thusly, then respond:

I am so glad you posted this and I agree with your conclusions. There should be a campaign for gay couples to adopt gay youth from foster care–the understanding and mentoring that could be achieved would be exceptional.

Actually, there have been a lot of efforts to do just that. (I’m barely going to scratch the surface here in these links.)

This is an issue VERY near and dear to my heart,  not only born out of some of my own growing up experiences, but also in that in the early 90’s back in my Queer Nation days I had a very dear friend who was in and out of local shelters and homelessness.

He was Queer, and underage, and had bounced around inside the foster pinball machine enough to have a graduate level education from the school of hard knocks.  He died of AIDS long before he reached 25.

I’m not saying that a Queer foster family would have made all the difference, all I’m saying is that the series of het foster homes who heaped additional shit upon his head certainly did.

Ok, so to answer your “there should be”, here at least are a few links worth exploring.

This article from a few years back out of Texas, Gay foster families sought makes mention of some of the various cities that have actively recruited Queer foster parents, particularly for Queer youth.

Child Welfare League of America Press has published resources like Lesbian And Gay Foster And Adoptive Parents: Recruiting, Assessing, And Supporting an Untapped Resource for Children And Youth by Gerald P. Mallon. Near the end of the book the chapter “Affirming Policies from National Organizations” is particularly useful. Of course the book is primarily simply talking about Queer parents for any foster kid.

You can find a number of places and projects where Queer foster kids are speaking about their own lives, Breaking the Silence: LGBTQ Foster Youth Tell Their Stories, for example, or even facebook groups for sharing resource links like this one, Queer and Trans Foster Youth Resources.

Then there are projects like the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in New York’s LGBT Foster Care Project which is more about training agencies to become culturally “competent” when it comes to both the Queer youth they serve and Queers who are providing foster homes. As well as more general lists of resources for Queer Foster kids like this out of California.

Obviously, there’s still a whole hell of a lot left to do, though. See this resource sheet for Homeless LGBT Youth and LGBT Youth in Foster Care for example.

As I said, these are just a few quick examples.

Programs for Queer youth, shelters, physical spaces, like what We Need Queer Youth Space in Seattle are working towards, hotlines, Queer foster or mentor programs, and obviously, as these last few weeks have made so abundantly clear, safe schools, anti-bullying, and suicide prevention programs, Youth rights more generally (see organizations like the National Youth Rights Association), etc,  all of these matter and are pieces of the puzzle. No one piece is the silver bullet, but together they begin to form a web of a safety net. It’s not going catch every kid, but each of these pieces make some very key differences in the lives of kids.

Also, I wish the gay community would become more aware of adoption issues generally, including the built-in hazards of pre-birth matching and corruption in inter-country adoption.

I think it requires more than an awareness of certain problems in the system or what you term ” built-in hazards.”

I think it involves gaining an understanding that the system itself has inherent problems intrinsic to it,  and that those problems are systemic and cannot be negated or avoided like your average road hazard.

But I haven’t written that post yet. It’s still percolating, and I’ll leave it at that.

But what I like most about your post is the connection you draw between “pro-family” elements, adoption, and discrimination.

Actually my point wasn’t that there are connections between distinct entities, my point was that there are times and places wherein these are simply one and the same.  They are EXACTLY the same individuals and organizations.

As for even the pretense of “pro-family” I think the two cases I referenced in my original post make it abundantly clear, these wingnuts are about nothing short of tearing these families apart. Which is why I don’t use the term even ironically.

Gay men and lesbians are not the enemies of the adoption reform movement.

I’m going to have to parse that apart, as there’s a lot in that single sentence.

Firstly, when I use “Queer”, I’m not merely discussing “gay men and lesbians.”

Speaking personally, for example, I’m Bisexual. The way I utilize “Queer” is in the Queer Nation political and sexual sense, as opposed to the “I don’t like labels, so I’ll use Queer as a catch all”, sense.

Back in my QN days, it certainly referred to Lesbians, Bis, Gays, Trans, asexual, Leather and kink, fetishists, and any number of those marginalized for their sexuality. Yes, we were primarily talking about GLBT, BUT importantly, we were also making space for those who in opposite gendered relationships who were still “queered” societally.

Secondly, I don’t consider myself or my blog part of any “adoption reform movement.”

I would tend to speak to it more generally in terms of the human/identity/civil rights of those who have been adopted (as well as those who have “lost” children to adoption.)

Thirdly, you are correct in that Queers are not intrinsically opponents of those rights.

Some of us after all are are the Bastards or parents ourselves.

But there most certainly are some Queers who either chose to be part of the problem intentionally, or who end up part of the problem with nothing but the best intentions on their parts.

This is both a contemporary problem and an historical one. (Georgia Tann’s odd relationship, adoptive and otherwise with Ann Atwood Hollinsworth is but one example. More recently, modern day Queers supporting the NJ ACLU, makes another example, as it’s adamantly opposing records access restoration to adult Bastards.)

Mainly, I’d say Queers, particularly those with no relationship to adoption at all, have a lot of adoption landscape they kind of need to get up on, in order to understand why Bastards and parents sometimes yes, have seen certain Queer individuals as set in opposition to our most basic human rights. There’s a perception, and it’s not always wrong. But it’s certainly not universal, and it requires a great deal of intense dialog in that this history and these modern stances ARE webs of complexity.

Can I understand why in a culture that made it exceptionally difficult for a woman to leave an inheritance to her lover adoption became this legal bridge that made certain things possible? Of course I can. But can people also get their heads around the idea that far from some Lesbian heroine Tann left a string of dead babies in her wake? I certainly hope so.

But in the here and now, can contemporary Queers get their heads around the possibility that the child they’re adopting who is being presented as an “orphan” may be nothing more than a kidnapped child off the street? And do they understand how their adoption dollars can end up supporting such?

Until we’re able to get through some of those tough conversations, sadly, yes, there are times and places wherein today’s Queers can and do end up feeding the beast. That has very real repercussions. The kind of consequences no amount of LGBT adoption “ethics” conferences can make better.

Yet so often I detect more than whiff of homophobia in blogs that are critical of adoption–”hey, they can’t have’em, maybe God just doesn’t want them to” or “you know, family isn’t just who the hell you make it up to be from the people around you.”

All too true. I see such all the time.

Just because one is critical of adoption as currently practiced, that hardly makes one any notion of “enlightened” or off the continuum of common everyday bigotry.

Actually, for queers tossed out of their own natural families, that is EXACTLY what family may be.

This is a very key insight, I’m glad you brought it up.

“Queer families, “”Leather Families”, “Chosen Families”, “AIDS Families” all of these make up some of the core structures of our broader Queer community.

There are many communities that have their own equivalents , Sci-fi fandom for example has many such fannish Families or households that may have nothing to do with blood relations.

Particularly for those who have faced rejection from their families of origin, those we chose to surround ourselves with and let into our lives are in many cases far closer than any biological ties.

“Family” for many of us very deliberately is precisely what we make of it.

These constructed families are every bit as valid, if not actually closer than many families of origin.

The key, though, in relation to adoptionland is that these Families are constructed by the consent of the individuals, by those old enough to make those decisions.

Adoption is state constructed, and done to individuals who often have no say or are too young to speak on behalf of their own interests.

Reducing adoption cannot come at the cost of discrimination. I’m always amazed when that line of thinking is defended.

I find the term “reducing adoption” has a number of assumptions inherent to it, things that again, I have not really addressed in terms of any kind of set “goal.” But again, I think this comes back to “adoption reform movement” to which I simply don’t consider myself a part.

As for the rest, I’ll simply quote part of the conclusion of my previous post:

…so long as the institution itself exists, I believe barring any any class of people purely on the basis of prejudice and lies is simply wrong.

I believe that sums my feelings on the matter up pretty well.

Thank you for seeing through it (not that I expected you to do otherwise).

It’s not hard when you live as I do, on the borderlines with feet in multiple communities as I do. Many of the Queer Bastard conversations I have end up having a flavour not altogether distinct from the Bisexual conversations I end up having.

I occupy a space of “both/and,” which I suppose means I end up talking to a lot of people about angles they haven’t seen before.

Which I suppose leads me into your postscript, as I also oftentimes occupy that “both/and” when it comes to Butch and Femme identities.

(Pulling the pictures in Question for clarity’s sake in this next portion.)

PS: I wrote about the butch couple a few years ago (unfortunately, I can’t pull it now).

Not finding it in a couple of quick searches, perhaps you wrote about it on some other page?

I always felt they were being unfairly discriminated against too, by those who would point to the pretty blondes as the real couple in question.

Which has a great deal to do with why I worded my piece thusly:

certain people feel the need to resort to all out lies/ playing to homophobic fears and projections about butch Dykes.

I’m not going to go into writing a whole book here, but the topic of butch and femme identities in relation to Dyke adoption and wingnut perceptions thereof is something someone could easily go write a book about (if they haven’t already.)

I’ll try to put together just a few paragraphs on the topic, and encourage readers to go off and do their homework in relation to butch and femme identity and then postulate for themselves how such could begin to entwine with adoption issues and projected fears by the wingnut class.

To me, and others like me, it matters not one whit whether the actual couple in question is the one on the right or the left, (although I’ve certainly a special place in my heart for certain Butches!) other than the fact that the picture on the left was used politically to enhance a constituencies’ fears about the actual couple on the right.

So long as all four people pictured are actually real women who love one another and not photo-shopped creations or stunt evangelicals in for an afternoon photo shoot, I’m good. (I haven’t had the time to actually research the back story on the picture on the left yet.)

BUT for that certain constituency, groups like the The Florida Family Policy Council have essentially primed the pump with homophobic fears and projections about butch Dykes.

To their perception, femme Dykes are still people they can relate to one some level. They still embrace some pop perception of “womanliness” that wingnuts find relatable,  if anything, they come to symbolize all things “womanly” just times two. (Let alone the projected sexual desires at the notion of two, count ‘em two women! Regardless of the reality that odds are, they probably wouldn’t be sexually interested at all in the one doing the projecting.)

In any case, femme is still considered some level of ‘in bounds.’ Those external may project all the usual “she just needs a REAL MAN to show her…” crap, but the bottom line remains, femme Dykes are still considered somewhere on the scale of “womanliness.” They are still considered sexually desirable, and they are still considered capable of mothering.

Butch Dykes, on the other hand, are considered nothing short of monsters: women who have rejected “womanliness.”

One is far less likely to see that usual projected “she just needs a REAL MAN to show her…” crap in that the man doing the projecting would then feel somehow too close to having sex with what he considers another “not-quite” man, i.e. it brings up all his male based homophobia in ways that femme Dykes don’t.

Butch Dykes then are not only not considered anywhere on the scale of “womanliness” they are now simply relegated to “otherliness” or “wrong.” They are generally not considered sexually desirable by wingnut men, and they are viewed of being completely incapable of not merely mothering, but also of fathering.

Thus the picture on the left brings up every last fear you could ever possibly imagine, it gets translated out to “two not women/monsters who want to -what? attempt to- ‘mother’ a child, and not just any child, a child the state is intentionally placing in their care.”

This is practically guaranteed to drive wingnuts even further nuts.

And to raise wingnut anger against them, because now they’re ‘not women,’ ‘not men’ and not even considered human. They are considered a ‘mockery of manhood’, or ’scarier still’ a replacement to fatherhood. Once wingnuts start feeling replaced, while getting their ears filled with ‘unnatural’ or ‘against nature!’ I think we all begin to understand some of what can come next, and some of the emotions some of these groups are playing with.

Butch dykes are viewed as gender traitors, transgressors, and as rejecting “proper roles for women.”

How that then begins to relate to adoption and foster care, is not a trivial matter. The intentional lie of utilizing this picture to drive fury says a very great deal about Florida Family Policy Council and Focus on the Family, they are not above resorting to all out lies to stimulate hate.

Frankenstein-angry-mob

If what one hears when they hear two Lesbians wanting to adopt is nothing more than ‘mother x 2′ they lose. But if they are able to shock their own people out of that perception and into ‘inhuman monsters want children!’ they can push their troops to action. Now all they need are some pitchforks and torches.

Rough-looking couples may make fine parents. One simply wouldn’t know unless one talked to them.

“Rough-looking”

<Sigh.>

Ok, where do I even begin? Here perhaps?

I’m about to say precisely what you probably figured I was going to say next, you might want to spend some time listening to Butch Dykes themselves.

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